Like many REALTORS®, you probably have some sort of contact list, but you’re not really sure how to use that list to grow your business. Perhaps you have a contact list in Microsoft Outlook or Google Gmail, but it’s really just a glorified address book. You’ve heard about how successful agents leverage their contact database to generate leads, encourage referrals, and build a loyal clientele, but you’re not clear on exactly how to go about doing this. If this sounds like you, read on! This blog post will show you the specific steps you need to take in order to become a master in effective contact management.
#1: Begin using a real estate CRM system
A good real estate customer relationship management (CRM) system is the cornerstone to effective contact management and managing your sphere of influence (SOI). Your contact management system needs to be tailored to real estate, which is why Outlook and Gmail, for example are not sufficient. With a real estate CRM, you can effectively manage not only your contacts, but your listings, and send pre-written marketing communication pieces out that have been designed with Realtors in mind. Not only that, there are many, many other benefits to working with a real estate CRM system as you’ll see below.
#2: Segment your database into groups and categories
In order to have relevant, personalized conversations with your SOI and organize your business effectively, you need to categorize your contacts. The first thing you’ll want to do is to assign every contact to the appropriate contact type: prospect, client, business-to-business, or personal. This is the most basic form of segmentation and it’s so important to be communicating with different contacts in different ways. The emails and letters you send to prospects should be completely different than those you send to clients.
To truly master contact management, you’ll also want to go a step further and assign your contacts to relevant groups. These groups can be as simple as separate groups for your “A List” and “B List.” You might also create “community” groups, which allow you to capture the nature of your relationship with each contact. Church groups, community service clubs, sports teams, college alumni, and former co-workers are all good examples of categorization groups.
Let’s say you worked for Apple in a previous career and have many former colleagues in your contact database. Ideally, you’d like to send customized versions of your marketing communications to these people, with part of the content in each email or letter reflecting your Apple relationship and shared experiences. Customizing your marketing communications in this way makes them more personalized and relevant and this in turn increases their effectiveness. By creating a group called “Apple Colleagues,” your real estate CRM makes it incredibly easy to execute these kinds of high-impact communications.
#3: Gather more information on your contacts as time goes by
No one is expecting you to have oodles of information on each one of your clients off the bat. But the more information you have and are able to get, the better. The information you need goes above and beyond phone number, mailing address, and email. I’m referring to interests, hobbies, birthdays, and various details on a contact’s partner and children. This will enable you to carry out my next point, which is the ability to have meaningful and relevant conversations.
Although it’s highly advantageous for you to have this type of detailed information on each one of your contacts, the process takes time. You’re not going to want to sit down with a client, for example, and interview them. But people do like to talk about themselves so next time you’re speaking with someone in your SOI, ask about how their weekend was. I’m sure a number of things will come up naturally – maybe they’ll mention their son, Michael’s baseball final and their cottage outside town. If you have 30 seconds to show genuine interest in a client beyond the business at hand, you’ll be surprised at how much information you’ll learn.
#4: Use the information you have about your contacts to have more meaningful conversations
You have all this great information on your contacts. You know John Doe’s birthday, you know he loves Honduran cigars, and you know that his son Jimmy plays basketball. Why is this valuable? Well, imagine how John would feel if you not only sent him a card on his birthday but also a box of Honduran cigars? Imagine how he would feel if the next time you spoke with him, you asked about how Jimmy is doing in his basketball league? Imagine not dreading that call to a past client because you now have something to talk about that’s relevant to their life. Getting to know your contacts as real people is so vital to building those lifelong relationships. Who do you think John will refer next time he’s asked about a real estate agent? You!
#5: Build a marketing plan that generates leads and grows your business
You’ve invested in a real estate CRM system, grouped your contacts, and have some great information on most of them. Now this is where the fun comes in. You have built the foundation to market to your clients, past clients, and prospects in a meaningful way. Say goodbye to those useless batch and blast emails. In order to get results, your communication needs to be targeted, personalized, and relevant. Your real estate CRM will allow you to easily select a group or number of groups and then send a personalized mass email out or select a group and create mail merge letters and labels.
In order to really supercharge your marketing plan, you need to assign different activity plans to different categories of contacts. For example, you’ll want to ensure you have an activity plan for that first time buyer, an activity plan to get that expired listing, and yet another activity plan that will allow you to make certain you’re nurturing your relationships with past clients after you’ve found them their dream home.
The bottom line
Simply having a glorified address book is not enough. What matters is how you’re using the contact information you have to grow your relationships and generate leads and referrals. And you need a system in place to be successful. A real estate specific contact management system is key here and is the foundation to maximizing the value of your database. If don’t have a real estate CRM that you’re using, or you have one that just isn’t working for you, sign up for a FREE 5 week trial of IXACT today. Take the plunge; you’ll be happy you did!