As published in Scotsman Guide's Commercial Edition, May 2008.
Given the prevalence of the Internet in our lives, it's natural for brokers to look to it as a way to generate leads. And considering that the Internet eliminates geographical boundaries, many brokers are finding that online prospecting is an efficient and powerful way to create relationships nationwide.
Follow some basic tips when seeking leads online and when making plans for following up with those leads.
Where to begin?
Brokers prospecting via the Internet should become familiar with lead-generation and membership Web sites. Many of these sites will give you direct access to people with customers looking for funding. They are designed to allow people to share or refer business and are a terrific starting point for forming relationships and creating a network of prospects.
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Finding these sites is easy. Choose your favorite search engine, and search for terms such as commercial loans, construction loans, hard-money loans, commercial lenders, commercial databases or lending databases. Your search should generate any number of sites with which you may want to become affiliated.
In addition to being a rich prospecting pool, these lead-generation and membership sites are also a great source for networking, guidance and continued education. For example, if you have a question about how to handle a specific portion of a deal, you can seek counsel from other experienced business associates with just a few clicks of the mouse. Other brokers simply view your questions and respond with their comments, advice or feedback. Most of the time, within just a few hours or a few days, you will have several answers to your questions.
You will be surprised at how easily and quickly you can start to forge relationships and unearth deals on these Web sites.
Remember, you should create your own relationships rather than simply purchase a lead list online. Purchased lists are not targeted and can cost a lot of money. Further, people on those lists often view any communication from you as spam because they don't know you directly.
Merely meeting people online is not enough. You must get to know them, understand their business needs and determine if they are a source with whom you want to work. To create a long-standing relationship that will separate you from the competition and pay dividends in the future, focus on providing quality service and stellar customer relations.
Return phone calls promptly, communicate regularly and ensure contacts that you are working hard to help them. If referral sources think you are attentive and that you value the relationship, they will more likely consider you for all commercial lending deals and will send other business to you.
Once your new contacts know and trust you, you can add them to your own database. It's important to be organized and to maintain accurate contact records because these are people who can introduce you to borrowers who need financing.
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