My nightmare of contact management is finally coming to an end. After using AgentOffice for the past 12 years (and outgrowing it about six years ago!) I felt it was finally time to investigate what's out there so I headed south in November to the 2008 NAR convention in Orlando to see firsthand. When Top Producer went internet a few years back I was envious yet reluctant to jump ship, knowing that AgentOffice would soon counter with their own version of an internet-based contact management system. Good thing I didn't hold my breath! Talk about a company dropping the ball on a loyal following...
So for the past few years I've been tucking contacts into:
1) AgentOffice (and doing back-ups and syncs and inventing new cuss words every time something went haywire and I had to sign up for their ridiculously expensive support services)
2) Outlook (my main email center) which never synced with my AgentOffice without great struggle
3) MobileMe (a handy though weak contact and email program from those wonderful Mac folks) which gave me the ability to access my contact info, emails and data from anywhere
I've now surrendered to the universe and, after a solid month of testing my top picks I decided (drum roll...), that I'm still torn between an internet-based system and a database system. Did I want to access my info from anywhere via web 2.0 enabled programs or maintain control over my data and have a beautifully clean sync between my emails and my database? A huge thank you to all who have posted on this topic (and there are many posts in the Rain about this topic) and thank you to Gary David Hall for your patience with my questions. It's down to two for my needs: RealFuture CRM for the internet or Mark-it Advantage Xi for the database.
I have a PC at my office, two PCs at home (one for me and one for my wife who is also my client services manager), a Mac desktop for photo and video editing (trust me, once you've done any kind of graphics work on a Mac after a lifetime of using PCs there is no going back!) and a MacBook laptop. Sounds like too many computers, I know, but there are still many MLS-related programs in my area that aren't Mac friendly yet. If I had my druthers, there'd be nothing on our desks but a Mac desktop but the real estate community isn't there yet in my opinion (though I will be giving Parallels 4.0 a try which will allow Windows XP -- no VISTA in my world -- to operate on my Mac).
I need my phone (Treo 700) to sync easily to my data, I need my email (Outlook) to flawlessly integrate with my CRM, I need a good referral tree and the ability to set up drip marketing campaigns. I want a company behind the product constantly updating the system and listening to its clients' needs. And I want to have complete control over my data and the ability to move it somewhere else should the need arise.
So, I am leaning heavily toward Mark-it Advantage Xi based on my above needs and also by the fact that this is the program of choice for Gary David Hall (aforementioned Guru of all things CRM-related) to use for his day-to-day business. Consider this: Gary has studied CRMs for years and is assembling a matrix right now using hundreds of questions to determine which CRM will be right for your needs (go here for a sneak peek: http://garydavidhall.com/CRMMatrixSample.htm ). Good enough for Gary, good enough for me. And during my test of Mark-it Advantage Xi, I easily pulled far more data from my old AgentOffice database than any of the other companies told me I'd be able to... and it only took a minute or two.
This has been a steady progression of scouring the internet for CRM comparisons and comparing them to my list of needs. The only thing I'll be giving up will be the ability to easily access my data from anywhere, anytime via the internet but realistically, with my Smartphone, I'm never far from my data anyway. Good luck to those of you still searching for the perfect CRM. If anyone knows of a more complete solution, please let me know so I can see how it stacks up against Mark-it Advantage Xi.