Lead Generation in the Commercial World

Commercial Corner

Andrew Cheney B&w

Andrew Cheney, CCIM, SIOR
Principal, Lee & Associates, Partner, Coppola Cheney Group


Generating leads in commercial brokerage is not rocket science, but it takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and discipline. When I first entered the business I talked to many brokers who warned that it took anywhere from three to five years to make more than minimum wage in this business. As I started my career, I quickly found they were right! The 18-24 month sales cycle in commercial real estate is longer than many industries and filled with many twists and turns along the way. Whether you want to work on commercial real estate leasing or sales, here are five tactics that will help you succeed in any market condition.

  1. Commitment.  Real estate is both a career and a lifestyle and one must remain committed to this exciting business. This means, especially in the early years, working 50-60 hours per week to build a book of business and learn the market.  It means spending the time reading the daily news, industry publications, studying trends and staying up to speed on transactions. Once you have established yourself note it still takes 50-60 hours to be a very successful commercial broker. Keep your eyes open constantly and you will see opportunities every day driving around town — even on Sundays.
  2. Consistency. It is surprising how many different ways there are to generate business in commercial brokerage. Some do it by phone, some do it by floating around town, some brokers employ great email campaigns and many continue to do it by canvassing buildings. It is important to try out several different methods, find what works for you, and then stick with it. If you are great on the phones, make your sales calls every day. If you are much better in person, stick to your weekly canvassing plan. If passive mailing is your thing, that’s ok too. Whatever your method, keep doing it consistently. The reality is it will be months or years before anyone really needs you. In the meantime, you will be building your brand in the prospect’s mind.
  3. Build And Work Your Network. It takes a tremendous collaborative effort to get a commercial deal done, and one can meet a ton of people along the way: other brokers, architects, city officials, contractors, attorneys, owners, analysts, project managers, cabling vendors, furniture dealers, and many more. Treat all of these people you meet along the way with service and respect and you will build a network of professionals who can refer you in the future to clients — even your competitors.
  4. Focus on a Specific Area. It can be easy to try and run with deals all over town and spread yourself thin. A proven method for building a good commercial book of business is to pick a specific submarket, and know it cold. Get to know every tenant in every building and who makes the decision. Call up every owner in that area and let them know you are working their market and hope to do business some day. If you know the trends in the area (sizes, active industry types, market nuances, etc.) you will be a tremendous value to players in this market.  Eventually you will brand yourself as an expert in the area and leads will come looking for you.
  5. Attend Events. Both community and industry events. Greater Phoenix is one of the most active markets in the country. There is a wealth of knowledge to consume, relationships to develop, and dots to connect by going to events. Open houses, economic forecasts trade association meetings and chamber of commerce functions. There are endless opportunities to elevate your market knowledge and presence through events.

Follow all of these tactics and you will eventually prove you are a value-add to a client’s transaction. You will gain their trust and ultimately their business. Once hired, a tremendous amount of service delivery and hard work will be required to close a building sale or lease. The good thing is you can control hard work — building trust will take the most patience.


Andrew Cheney, CRE, CCIM, SIOR is a Principal with Lee & Associates Arizona and currently serves as NAIOP Arizona’s Programs Chair.  More information is available about Andrew at www.coppolacheney.com.