Danger, Will Robinson!
Did you know? 46 percent of all firms cited keeping up with technology as one of the biggest fears facing their firm in the next two years (2015 Profile of Real Estate Firms).
As we grow our businesses, the demands of balancing lead generation, nurturing, communication, facilitation, reporting, and team management grow exponentially. Thankfully, plently of technology solutions are built to solve those problems. Today I want to talk about CRMs.
Give Me the Dirty Rundown: What is a CRM?
CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is also a common moniker to describe a wide variety of customer relationship management tools. CRMs automate customer engagement and help you keep track of your pipeline, buckets, and communication. In practice, CRMs keep you focused on what matters: Saving costs and making money.
Although CRMs are built with specific industries in mind, at their core, CRMs work on the back- and front-ends to help manage databases of clients plus their unique corresponding information.
My Friend Uses Salesforce! Can’t I?
Salesforce is one of the most popular B2B and B2C small business-to-enterprise level CRMs. Salesforce is a great CRM, but considering it’s size and relative complexity (think Ikea furniture versus buying a chair pre-assembled), Salesforce isn’t an appropriate CRM for real estate.
Why Can’t I Just Use Excel?
You could. It’s been done before much in the same way Napoleonian marched on Moscow in the Winter of 1812 and found it set ablaze stranding his army. Even before Excel and even way before personal computers, businesses were able to crush sales without software, but it was incredibly painstakingly slow and required significantly more staff.
Unfortunately Excel is not a real estate sales solution. It’s an excellent finance tool, however, it doesn’t offer and customer relationship management features. Column B, Row 32 has a buyer lead with an number and address, but where is Column B’s recent search history, lead score, lender notes, or even birthday?
Today, the benefits of using real estate CRM tools heavily outweigh all other options. CRMs are optimized to save you time!
The Double Edged Sword of Software.
Balancing multiple tools was unfortunately common. Just look at all the tools on the market in the picture above! The problem came from software developing companies over-promising their solutions and severely under-delivering with their products. It’s one of the most common necessities I hear from agents in the field, on the phone, and even at trade shows: I wasted money on a tool which didn’t provide the expected results!
One of my favorite clients is a prolific producer (seriously, it’s insane) and he had to use multiple tools out of sheer necessity in the past. One CRM couldn’t pull Zillow leads whereas the other CRM could aggregate leads but lacked basic email integration. Instead of having a centralized platform, he cut up his entire pipeline by software and mentally juggled everything offline.
Okay, What Features of CRMs Save Me Money and Time?
Today, modern CRMs have a few distinct advantages over traditional databases and database management tools:
Modern CRMs exist in “the cloud:” Your CRM will be synced over the Internet from your device to a secure remote server. This is ideal for two main reasons. First, remote servers are more secure and safe from hackers and thieves. Servers also have incredible cyber security features which protect your data. Second, remote servers allow your CRM to take up less space on your device’s hard drive. There’s absolutely nothing to install and nothing to crash your device.
Modern CRMs offer 3rd party integrations: Application Program Interfaces (APIs) like Zapier, Gmail, Mailchimp, and Zillow are some of the millions of integrations widely available to add to your CRM. Integrations allow you to continue to work within the platform without having to juggle multiple applications or switch devices.
Modern CRMs are easy to use: Before CRMs and APIs, we used to access databases by running queries using a database language called SQL. Managing databases using a language was incredibly time consuming and required special education. Modern CRMs function like any other computer or browser based program, which are easy to navigate and use clicks, drags, and drops to make changes instead commands. There’s little to no learning curve with a modern CRM.
Modern CRMs are customizable: Every business is different and a modern CRM will allow you to customize the platform and tailor it to your unique needs. The beauty of modern CRMs is they aren’t offering just a solution for your sales pipeline, they are offering a way to meet your specific needs.
Before You Shop, It’s Time for a Questionnaire!
Have you used a CRM before?
Do you have a team or is it just you?
Are you looking to advertise and find leads?
Next, let’s define some goals and see how your next CRM will help:
What do you want to achieve in 2017?
Do you have enough referrals to meet a milestone for next month?
Do you want to invest in more online advertising?
How are you currently managing your leads?
The CRM Shopping Checklist.
With your answers in mind, here is a list of important features and benefits to look for when shopping around for a CRM. The features highlighted below are designed to help automate your business, so even though some features might seem complex, they are easy to run and manage.
Does the CRM:
Track and record conversations between yourself and your leads?
Allow you to send texts or even make calls from the platform?
- Have the option to create email templates and even run email drip campaigns?
Offer multiple ways to stay in touch and nurture your leads?
Have alerts for new leads, hot leads, and property alerts
Allow you to use it on multiple devices and/or is it mobile responsive?
Offer integrations with productivity tools you are already using?
Have team management tools?
Allow you to see team performance and analytics for coaching?
Offer a lender’s portal?
Import your leads automatically, and lastly
Offer a lead tracking to see the source, search history, saved properties from your website, or even preferred property type?
Ready to Know More About Fully Capable CRMs?
Grab the whole list with Chime. I can get you up and running with lead generation, team management, lead nurturing, and even IDX websites!