Buildout is partnering with Ethos CEO Alida Miranda-Wolff in 2019 to develop our culture, leadership, and individual growth with a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We sat down with her for a Q&A about her experience consulting with commercial real estate brokerages and how the lessons she’s sharing with Buildout can be applied to all of CRE.
Why does investing in your team matter?
Alida: Most companies put their sales first, the product they’re offering second, and their people third—but who actually provides what you’re offering? Think of the difference between a call with J. Crew’s gracious and attentive customer support and one to your cable company. Customer experience is tied directly into employee experience.
That’s why, if you’re working to build customer relationships that span years and multiple deals, employee longevity is essential. Employees that deliver the best results for customers have been at a company for two years or longer so investing in their growth really is focusing on satisfying your customers.
What’s the incentive for a broker to contribute to their firm’s culture when success in that role tends to be built on individual reputation and drive?
Alida: Brokers pursuing a real career in CRE have to be able to develop a personal brand that’s authentic. Really what you are doing as any kind of service provider is building a human connection, but you have to be able to scale that if you want to work with more than one or two clients.
That’s where working with a brokerage that has a strong culture of collaboration can be so important. Your firm can amplify your reputation and provide training on how to truly support each client’s needs. Are the people on your team equipped to support more than just a sales script? When you bring that human connection inside the office, your support staff can help deliver a unique experience for every client you work with.
How can teams get more out of their conversations with customers—or even their own support staffs?
Alida: One of the most successful brokers I’ve worked with said, “It’s much more effective to have six meetings where you understand everything about the person, what they need, and how the deal will ultimately create value for them and their company. Then, with all that information, come with two or three articulate ideas that represent all of that information.”
The key to this is active listening and going into each conversation with a true curiosity mindset. So many questions are trying to lead someone to a conclusion instead of reflecting a need for more information.
Know how to construct questions—start with broad, open questions (try a journey question like “how did you come to need office space?”), then narrow down into the most specific, and finally, create a cooldown period after your hardest questions. I always end by asking if there’s anything the other person wished I had asked or if they have any questions for me to level out the playing field.
What excites you the most about your partnership with Buildout?
Alida: I read a recent blog about a lack of diversity in CREtech and one of the things that struck me was that when I first met Buildout you were so forward-thinking about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion so early on in your life cycle and it comes from such a genuine place.
The common slogan I’ve heard from tech companies is to “move fast and break things,” but without the consideration that when you move fast and break things with your team, it’s people who are “broken.” But in my time with Buildout, I’ve seen huge product releases and national deals closed without you ever losing a focus on empathy and collaboration. Also, it’s a really quirky vibe! People are funny. They are interested in each other and creating something special for the people of CRE.
At Ethos, in order to truly help, our client has to care more about the problem than we do. And Buildout has definitely shown that.
If you’re interested in learning about how Buildout can be a part of your workplace culture, talk to sales today.