Your Real Estate CRM Shopping List: What to Know

Real Estate Technology with Chime

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?


Learn How Real Estate CRMs Are Designed to Save You Time & Money.

Before you go, all of us from Chime want to give you two free special gifts: A free infographic and our free ebook "A Real Estate Guide to Saving Time and Money with Sales Automation." Armed with our content, you'll learn how the right real estate CRM will work for you on the backend by automating both mundane and time-senstitive tasks. Download both today! 


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!

Call today to find out more and request a free demo! | 888 - 342 - 9698 |

Comments (23)

Susan Jacobsen
The Alliance Group Realty - Hilton Head Island, SC
20 Years Providing WOW Real Estate Service

Zachary - welcome to the Rain! I hope that it helps to build your business and understanding about the unique aspects of real estate. Much success!

Feb 17, 2017 09:46 AM
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

Informative article with great points to consider.  


Feb 17, 2017 10:21 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

I agree with Salesforce is not for the faint of heart but with the new application of AI they call Einstein it is the head of the class. You can also outsource it just like people outsource website development.

Feb 17, 2017 11:40 AM
Chuck Willman
Utah Homes - Alpine, UT
Utah Homes

Very well written. You're company has a biit of buzz going lately. If I'm not mistaken you're gaining a Utah presence- that true?

Feb 17, 2017 05:30 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hey Chuck! You are correct. We opened up a brand new office in downtown Salt Lake not too long ago. I was just there for the grand opening 😎

Feb 20, 2017 09:57 AM
Ron McCord
RE/MAX - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Residential/Multi Family Sales S. Florida

I love investigating Crms for Real Estate. There is no perfect one not even one that is 75% perfect so Using G Suite plus Evernote together is better than any crm I have found and I have checked out dozens. They all usually lack  good gsuite sync

Feb 17, 2017 05:50 PM
Chris Kallin

Interesting solution.  I was not aware of GSuite.

Feb 17, 2017 06:19 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hey Ron! This is the beauty of technology. Everyone is going to have different problems which will require unique solutions. I'm glad you've found the right stack of tools! I'll poke around and see if there are lessons I can pull from your solution and pass it off to my team. 

Feb 20, 2017 09:59 AM
Chris Kallin
SeattlebyDesign / Realogics - Seattle, WA

I joined a team last June and immediately identified that they needed to be brought together on a single CRM.  One broker was using TopProducer, another using Outlook, and so on.  I referred to Active Rain for advice, producing a list of perhaps a dozen.  From there I threw out a half dozen and started trials with the rest.... testing everything form wildly expensive, feature rich solutions, to stripped down, lean solutions, and everything in between.  Worth noting as well, that some are more transaction based focusing more on transaction value and less on people.  Others, of course, focus more on people with a design that seems less like a sales funnel.  It was difficult to stay focused at times.  It was very easy to get bogged down in analysis, comparing features and costs and assigning weighted values to everything.  Maybe I went a little too far down the rabbit hole?   In the end I offered three recommendations and then we chose from among them as a team.  We selected IxactContact and we're quite happy with it.  It's not the most elegant design, admittedly.  Hopefully there are some improvements coming in that regard, but it does what we want it to and does it well.  It focuses on relationships, action plans, marketing, etc.  The financial bit is there, but it's not front and center, which is how we prefer it.  What's perhaps most important to acknowledge is that there's no one-size-fits-all solution.  Consider what's important to you and your team (if you have one).  Look at a lot of options.  Create a shortlist and take them up on their trial and then decide what works best for you.  It's a very personal decision.  One other point to consider... You may want the current or future ability to integrate your CRM to your website so that it may capture leads and easily set them on an action plan.  If you have a specific website provider or providers in mind, then do work backwards to make sure that you're considering their CRM partner(s).  The team I'm working with chose to forgo integration in order to implement our preferred CRM and preferred website/IDX bundle, but it was knowing full well that we were doing that.  You may arrive at that choice too, but start by realizing it's a possibility.  I think many people select software solutions without thinking about the possibility of integration.  Wow, this is getting long-winded for a comment.  Maybe I should make a blog entry!

Feb 17, 2017 06:40 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hey Chris! You should make this a blog. I'd also like to self-plug for one sentence and say importing leads captured on your IDX site into your CRM has already arrived 😀

Feb 20, 2017 10:02 AM
Diana Dahlberg

Yes, this would make a good blog!

Feb 19, 2017 02:37 PM
Carin Molin

Thank you!


Jun 05, 2017 06:45 PM
Marlene Shelton Giles

Do you have your web site with them as well?  I was looking into it.....Thanks !!

Jan 29, 2018 05:16 PM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

Thanks for this informative post on CRMS.  I need to come back to this and choose a good CRM.

Feb 17, 2017 08:19 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Zachary Foisie - the best CRM is the one that one uses! (And have the features they want to 'use' them in the CRM.)

Thanks for the details of what one should expect in a CRM.

Feb 17, 2017 10:07 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hey Pratful! Good to see you again. That's the beauty of techonology in my book: Every solution is going to solve different problems for different people 😀

Feb 20, 2017 10:04 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

It's all about the psychology of the relationship and the feeling of comfortability. That's basically it and the bottom line. You're right on the money!

Feb 17, 2017 10:08 PM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

I talk to many agents who do not use a CRM. I really do not know how they expect to grow their business without one.

Thanks for the great tips.

Feb 18, 2017 08:17 AM
Ron Aguilar
Gateway Mortgage Group - Saint George, UT
Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995

I have used dedicated CRM's and Excel since 1995. The goal is to keep track of suspects and prospects with multivariate touching. This allows you to stay top of mind before your competitor captures them and your out.

Feb 18, 2017 08:43 AM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

I am still in the process, and am close to a decision.  Whichever one you choose, make sure it is one that is easy to learn and understand, and one you will actually use! As Realtors, we spend alot of money on "Stuff", but don't end up using it because it wasn't quite what we thought when we bought it.

Feb 19, 2017 02:39 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hey Diana! You're totally on point: Tools are designed to help us make money, but only if we use the tools! 

Feb 20, 2017 10:06 AM
Anne Corbin

Which ones have you narrowed it down to? I'm still on a trial with LionDesk but don't know which one to look at next for comparison. LionDesk seems reasonably priced.

Feb 19, 2017 06:23 PM
Donna & Larry Johnson
Keller Williams Real Estate - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County

Great post! This is a difficult decision and their are so many to choose. Find the one that works for you and go with it!

Feb 20, 2017 07:20 AM
Michelle Esposito
Michelle Esposito, P.A. - West Palm Beach, FL
REALTOR serving Palm Beach and Broward County

This is a nice breakdown of what to look for in a CRM so people who aren't tech savvy will understand how to compare. I would never use SalesForce as it is too complicated for Real Estate; I think it works much better with larger sales teams. I currently use the CRM provided by Coldwell Banker and it works good. I just tried Hubspots new CRM to see how well it works. And, coincidentally, I already had a Chime tab open so I can review it.

Feb 21, 2017 03:53 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

It is true, I got Salesforce and i am just lost in it. Too complex...unnecessary. 

What is your CRM? 

Apr 05, 2017 09:25 PM
Lisa @ Chime Technologies

Hi Inna! 

I use Chime! Our team even uses it internally for our company, too, it's a blast to work with. 

Can I show you a quick demo? Shoot me your email address and I'll happily set something up! 

Apr 05, 2017 09:53 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I've heard of Chime. But what I heard it is 300+/per month for an individual agent. Is it correct? 

Jun 12, 2017 01:06 PM
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

I've used Top Producer for ever. I've tried other CRM's but they never seemed to work the way I need them to. And every time I tried to import the info I have in TP to another CRM, it never seemed to quite work.Some info didn't transfer over correctly or didn't transfer at all. I always ended up going back to TP and still use it. 

Jun 13, 2017 07:43 PM
Melissa Spittel
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Westminster, MD
"Achieving Results Together "

Very informative post. I literally switched CRMs 2 days ago just so I could have 3rd party integrations.

Jun 14, 2017 07:18 PM
Kasey & John Boles
Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - - Boise, ID
Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties

This question gets asked here a lot "which CRM should I use" and this is a good explanation.  I've never hear dof Chime Technologies.  It looks like you, April, took over for Zachary since this blog was posted? -Kasey

Jun 17, 2017 02:41 PM
Dave Halpern
Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

The finer tuned the CRM is, the more time I'll have available to focus on lead generation activities. A fine tuned CRM also reduces the dependency on any specific administrative assistant because the next admin can just continue using the system.

Jun 17, 2017 07:55 PM