Contact Management with Soul - Contact Management Pays for Itself! (If you use it, that is...)

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A few days ago, I posted a blog about how I don't buy the argument that a real estate agent can't afford to purchase a contact management system because that extra $10 or $20 or $35 or $39/month just ain't in the budget. You can read it here. Contact Management

Today I'll be a little more upbeat and a little less preachy and explain why I made the claim in the above-noted blog that good Contact Management can and should pay for itself, many times over.

There are two general ways a CMS pays for itself, both, not coincidently, based on the two general things I believe a contact manager should do Very Well (those would be contact management and conTRACT management).

Managing Your Contacts
First, a CMS should enable you to create and maintain a database of everyone you know. But it's what you do with that database that will make you money.

What can you do with your database to make money?

You can remember and acknowledge birthdays of the people you know. You can print out a list of your Group One (your social network) and ask two people from that list to lunch every week. You'll have a handy place to enter the contact information of new people you meet and add them to your go-to-lunch-or-coffee activities or send them your monthly mass-email and annual calendar. You can take notes on conversations you've had with friends and acquaintances and set a reminder to follow-up with them in a week or two to "see how it went" (whatever the "it" is).

Simple simple stuff! Yet, without a contact manager, even a rudimentary one, most of these easy, friendly, stay-in-touch activities simply won't get done. And I guarantee you'll forget all about 90% of the people you're meeting out there in the world...and they'll forget about you. A year goes by... and two... and three... and then you wake up one morning and realize you've lost thousands of dollars in commissions because you lost touch with most of the people you know, and never followed-up with all those people you've met. You didn't mean to, of course, but without a CMS, it's tough to do even a marginally good job of keeping track of those Very Important People In Your Life who can send you business.

If you don't have (and use) a CMS, I'll bet $100 that you've lost over $10,000 (at least) in potential paychecks every year you've been a real estate agent. Probably more.

Managing Your Contracts
The second way a CMS will pay for itself is by helping you stay on top of your transactions - that is - conTRACT management. And this will pay for itself in multiple ways as well!

When you're on top of your business, your clients are being well-taken care of - and they will notice! When you do the things you promised to do when you promised to do them; when you contact your client with updates before they have to contact you; when you head off problems before they even arise; when you always appear to be on top of their transaction - you'll have yourself one (or a dozen) impressed client(s) who will be delighted to spread the word of your impressiveness to the world.

But what's really sweet about having and using good conTRACT management is that you won't screw up - at least - not nearly as much as you might without it. When you have fully customized checklists and action plans keeping you on track, things don't slip through the cracks. And when things don't slip through the cracks, you don't have to open your checkbook to fix problems nearly as often. For example, once I got to pay for a thorough housecleaning on my listing after the seller moved out because he "forgot" to do it. So, my Listing-Under-Contract checklist now includes "Verify that seller has arranged cleaning after move-out."

Another time, I got to write a check because I hadn't verified that the HOA fee advertised in the MLS was correct... and it wasn't. We didn't find out until we were all sitting at the closing table and my buyer was, to put it mildly, annoyed. The listing agent (who made the error) wouldn't ‘fess up to his mistake, so it fell to me to make things all better. Which I did, to the tune of over $500. Now, right there on my Buyer-Under-Contract checklist is a line that says "Verify the HOA Fee."

So, the moral of these stories is to assure you that if you commit to using a contact management system in your business, it will pay for itself. Over and over. I promise.

Part I - The Unanswered Questions
Part II - The Two Things a Contact Manager Should Do Very Well
Part III - Creating Reasonable Expectations for Your Contact Manager
Part IV - "But I Can't Afford a Contact Management System!"
Part V - Contact Management Pays for Itself - if you use it!
Part VI - Which System do I Recommend?

p.s. On January 27th, there will be a live webinar in the SWS Virtual Studio on the topic of using a contact manager to, well, make money! Unlike previous such programs, this will be a show-n-tell demo (that is - there will be visuals associated with the show) where I'll demonstrate various ways you can use a contact management system to get in touch and stay in touch with your sphere of influence. Details and registration here: I'll be using Ixact Contact for the demo, but the principles will likely apply to any contact management system you already use or are considering.

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Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I really do need to follow up on your blog. Almost 8 years into this business and I have a haphazard system if I can call it a system. My new task - contact management!

Jan 20, 2011 12:14 AM #1
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Excellent series - I suspect this strikes a chord with many agents.  This business can be so crazy, staying on top of everything is critical.

Jan 20, 2011 12:38 AM #2
Tanya Nouwens
RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

OK, so I signed up for the free Ixact contact management system last week and as of today, have done ixactly nothing with it :)  Hopefully, your session next week will move me to act on it.  Clearly, downloading is not enough!  As you say, we need to use it too.

Jan 20, 2011 12:51 AM #3
Laurie Martinez
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Dana Point, CA
South Orange County Real Estate

I signed up for the Ixact trial on Monday and I'm getting my (cleaned-up) contacts entered into it today.  I can't wait to get started with it.  This is what I need - somewhere that I can enter my good intentions and be constantly reminded to follow through!

Jan 20, 2011 01:32 AM #4
Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Jennifer - my current system leaves a few things to be desired. At KW, in March we get a new CMS, I am looking forward to implementing it.

Jan 20, 2011 02:02 AM #5
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Birthdays are HUGE, so is the anniversary date of closing on their home... All great opportunities to contact them..

And when they contact you, with a few key strokes they think you remember EVERYTHING, while in reality it is just all on the computer screen in front of you! 

Jan 20, 2011 09:53 AM #6
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I signed up for the free trial of ixact last week, and so far I LOVE it! Yes, you do have to actually use it. lol And I'm really trying to train myself to put my appointments in there, rather than Outlook. Old habits...

I think that system would be just about PERFECT if it had it's own email program. Yes ma'am, I do want it all!

Jan 21, 2011 04:51 AM #7
Bob Jakowinicz
National Realty Centers Livonia--Bob Jakowinicz - Livonia, MI
Michigan Real Estate Agent-- MI RE Adventures

Isn't this about the same thing as Top Producer?  If not than I missed something looking through the website.  I will look into this further to make sure I am all caught up, thanks for the post 

Jan 21, 2011 11:26 AM #8
Christine McDaniel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Porter Co. - Crown Point, IN
Broker Associate

It definitely takes discipline to get used to using a contact management system.  The longer you're in the business the more you will need one.  That being said, I need to work on my discipline.

Jan 22, 2011 06:34 AM #9
Mark Boyd
MarQeteer - Lancaster, PA

Best summation of a good CRM I've ever heard...manage your conTACTS and your conTRACTS.  Everything else is mostly bells and whistles.  And you're right...a CRM has to be in the budget.  Just goes back to the axiom that you have to invest in your business to make money:)

Jan 25, 2011 06:53 AM #10
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

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