Prior to getting my CRE tech startup, Digsy, off the ground, I was a commercial real estate agent for Lee & Associates. I worked there for 12 years and was promoted to Senior Vice President & Principal of the firm when I was 25 years old. I attribute much of my success to my unsatiated obsession using technology tools to improve my productivity and workflow so I could win more clients and quickly close more deals. This obsession with productivity remains today.
The technology available today is smarter and more efficient than it was when I was a commercial real estate. My tech tools help me maximize my productivity each and every day.
The context of how I use these apps has changed because instead of being an agent, I now run a CRE tech startup. Instead of trying to find tenants and landlords to use my brokerage services and sign off on a lease, I now use these tools to recruit amazing software developers, get VCs to fund us, and get tenants to use our CRE platform to find the best commercial real estate agents to help our clients find commercial space.
Although I don’t use these tools from the perspective of a CRE broker, the end-goal is the same: get funded, get more clients & close more deals.
Being an entrepreneur is a super busy, never-ending list of things to get done. Here are the apps I use to kick ass and take names throughout the day and be ultra productive:
Boxer — My Favorite Email App
Email not only drives the day of commercial real estate agents, it also does so for CEOs & Founders. Like many CRE agents, I get over 500 emails a day and it’s crucial for me to be able to process them quickly. This is why I love using Boxer. With Boxer I can set-up reply templates to quickly respond to emails with one tap. I love the HTML reply template feature because it allows me to quickly respond with an email that includes a link to a pitch deck, marketing brochure, etc.
Boxer also has a “Like” feature similar to Facebook that allows me to quickly send a reply to someone saying that I “Liked” their message. This is a super quick way to let them know I read their email and acknowledge it without wasting time typing a smiling face or finding where the hell the “thumbs up” emoji is at (Damn, iPhone keyboard).
With Boxer you can also quickly create a to-do from an email with one swipe or save an email to Evernote that I can reference later (I use this a lot to save customer testimonials) . Boxer also integrates with Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive and all the usual file storage suspects. Since I keep some documents in Dropbox, while others live in Google Drive — being able to easily access & attach them from one app is a killer time saver!
Boxer is very customizable, which means I can change the action that each swipe gesture does to my preference. It also pulls pictures from the sender’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts so that when I receive an email it puts a face with a name. Pretty neat stuff.
One thing that drives me nuts about Boxer is that I cannot snooze messages to remove them from my inbox and have them return to my inbox in the evening, tomorrow, next week — et. al. I’ve found a way around this using another tool that saves me from spending a ton of time in my email called, SaneBox.
SaneBox — the Virtual Assistant and AI in My EmailSaneBox is a piece of artificial intelligence (AI) that scans my inbox and incoming email in real-time and moves unimportant messages into a separate folder that I can check later in the day.
SaneBox works on your PC or Mac, desktop or mobile, Gmail, Exchange, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, IBM Notes and anything inbetween. Many commercial real estate agents use the Desktop version of Outlook and with SaneBox that’s no problem. It works like magic.
I’ve tried technologies that claim to do what SaneBox does, but too many times I’ve missed an important message — and when you’re trying to close a deal or a round of investment, this is a HUGE no no. However, after using SaneBox I found it to be beyond amazing and hold its promise. It learns which emails are important to me, and which ones to get out of my way as I work my inbox.
Its AI learns from your activities. For example, say that SaneBox moves your LinkedIn invites to the @SaneLater folder, but you want to see these in your inbox instead. Well, then you simply move the email to your inbox, then SaneBox will never move the message into a separate folder again (unless you tell it to). SaneBox is also customizable. You can create your own custom folders and rules. Say for example you want to automatically move your Mother-in-Law’s emails to a folder called “@NotRightNowBro”. Then, all you do is create the folder in SaneBox, drag your Mother-in-Law’s email into that folder and from then on it will go into that folder and never clutter your inbox. If you change your mind and like your Mother-in-Law again, then just move the email to your inbox and SaneBox won’t remove the email from her from your inbox again.
SaneBox also has a feature that allows me to snooze emails to a later date by dragging into a folder called “@SaneTomorrow” or “@SaneNextWeek”. This helps me remove the email from my inbox today, but returns them to my email inbox tomorrow or next week. It’s a great way to overcome Boxer’s inability to snooze emails and have them pop up in my inbox again at a different time. The SaneBox dudes give you a $15 credit when you signup for SaneBox here.
When you’re leasing commercial real estate or getting an investor to fund your startup, you need to get things signed quickly. That’s where DocuSign is a lifesaver.
With DocuSign I can quickly send a Microsoft Word or PDF document and get it signed by the other party on their Smartphone, tablet or desktop. I can also setup documents as “Templates”, that automatically show people where to sign, so I can quickly shoot them to investors, tenants etc. directly from my iPhone. It’s amazing rad stuff! I love the DocuSign bros and sisters for creating this feature!
The other thing I like about DocuSign is that I can setup reminders that automatically email people who haven’t signed my docs and remind them to sign my stuff!
Their interface automatically organizes my signed docs and the ones that still need signatures so that I don’t have to scour my emails and computer folder to figure out if someone has signed stuff. It’s a HUGE time saver
I personally use DocuSign to quickly sign documents people send over to me on my iPhone, iPad or Computer.
When I was a commercial real estate agent, most of my business came from outbound sales efforts and referrals. That means a lot of outbound sales emails, cold calls and all that jazz. However, at Digsy most of our business is inbound from online marketing efforts. Regardless of our massive inbound deal flow, we do not ignore outbound efforts and use them often to get big deals into our pipeline. Our Sales Development Reps (SDRs) research and identify potential companies who can use our on-demand tenant rep matchmaking services. The SDRs then reach out to these businesses to see if we can convert them into Digsy customers.
Most of this activity is done via email and we’re very scientific and data-driven about our approach to make sure our outreach sales strategies are predictable and scalable. There’s no way we would be able to do any of this without ToutApp.
With ToutApp, we can upload an email list of potential customers, pick our data-proven most effective cold email template and send it to hundreds of prospects in just a few clicks. ToutApp, then tracks who opens the email, clicks on a link and their engagement level. Our SDRs can then prioritize who to follow up with on the phone or with another email.
The best feature is the fact that you can tell ToutApp to automatically send a follow up email if the person hasn’t replied to your email within a certain number of days. This feature alone has helped us significantly increase the number of clients we get from our outbound sales emails. I highly recommend it.
Many of you are familiar with mass email (eBlast) software tools like MailChimp and ConstantContact. Our favorite mass email tool at Digsy is MailChimp. It’s not only easy to send marketing drip emails to thousands of customers and commercial real estate agents, but we can automate the whole thing.
My favorite feature of MailChimp is its automation feature which allow us to set up a campaign that automatically shoots emails to prospects based on a specific set of rules. For example, say we’re launching Digsy in a new market and we wanna send a marketing campaign to make CRE agents aware that we’re gonna be there soon. Using MailChimp we send an email announcement to CRE brokers in that market and with their automation feature we can tell MailChimp to send a follow up email if they haven’t opened the email or click on the link to our website. We can even add additional emails to follow up with them until they perform an action we want them to make. It’s pretty awesome stuff. It’s effective and best of all — runs on autopilot.
Well, there you have it guys! I use a lot more apps than the ones mentioned above, but I want to make sure I initially mention those I believe will make the most impact for commercial real estate agents on a daily basis.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or reach out to me on Twitter: @AndrewBermudez
About the Author: Andrew Bermudez is a former Senior Vice President of Lee & Associates and the Founder/CEO of Digsy. Digsy is an on-demand CRE tech platform that pairs businesses with trusted tenant rep agents to help them find Office, Warehouse or Retail space. You can reach Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewBermudez