So you've outgrown Excel. Using your email system to track your customers has become overwhelming. What now? Well, here's what to look for in a CRM to take your real estate business to the next level.
CRM once required a massive software investment that only the largest organizations could afford. But today, the CRM world is alight with affordable, user-friendly apps that were made specifically with small businesses in mind—without sacrificing any of the power that these organizations need. This boom in CRM apps is good news for real estate agents, but it also creates a new challenge: How do you know what is good for your business and where do you start? Don’t jump into anything. Spend the time to do the research because once you choose a CRM you’ll probably use it for a few years (at least!). There are applications built specifically for real estate and there are horizontal applications that can easily be customized for real estate. Either one has its pros and cons. No matter which way you go, remember to take the following into consideration when you are evaluating CRMs.
Four key considerations
In a 2012 survey* of more than 1,200 small-business CRM users (including real estate agents), respondents were asked to name the most important benefits they get from their CRM system. Their top four answers reveal some insights into the things that are most important to small businesses and hold clues about how to evaluate CRM apps.
1: Improves customer communication
2: Give an overall view of my business
3: Improves the service I give to my customers
4: Give insight into the sales pipeline/Improves sales
1. More effective customer communication
What is effective customer communication for a real estate agent? You probably want to track all client events (both personal events like birthdays or anniversaries, and business events like mortgage renewal dates). Enabling more effective communications with your customers is key. If you CRM system doesn't do this well, the chances are it won't do anything well.
2. A better overall view of the business
A CRM system shouldn't stop at tracking communications. Apps that have the right features can also provide an invaluable macro view of your entire business with features like:
- Linking. In many cases you'll need to create direct relationships between your contacts, emails messages, contacts organizations, opportunities and projects. Look for a system that lets you create direct linking relationships so you can track the full richness of all relationships that matter to your business.
- Dashboard. A flexible dashboard will let you track activity by users, groups, projects, milestones, tasks and notes so you can see all activity at a glance.
- Mobile access. In real estate you are always on the go and most likely not in front of your computer when you need information. Ensure that your CRM system supports mobile access from your favorite device.
- Integration with other applications. Everyone loves free and low-cost apps. So make sure the CRM application has links into popular applications like Google Apps, Gmail, MailChimp and popular social media sites.
3. Improved customer service. When you store all information about your customers in one place, accessible from anywhere, you can always locate what you need when you need it.
4. Clearer insight into a sales pipeline. Look for an app that lets you easily and quickly customize pipeline steps associated with any opportunity and automate your workflow process using multiple series of activity sets, tasks to do lists and milestones.
The right CRM system can change your life, leaving you to wonder how you ever got along without it. It can open up new doors by you from the tediousness of searching for disparate data, and it can uncover sales opportunities that were hidden by the old way of doing things. Most of all, it can help you take your small business to the next level—one step closer to the vision you work toward every day.
(* survey of Insightly customers conducted Nov 2012; 1200 respondents)
This blog post was excerted from a short white paper - What to look for in CRM application. For more information and additional detail, feel free to download it here.
See a review of Insightly by Jeffrey Douglass (real estate agent)
Still curious? Sign up for a free account!