Evaluating CRM Systems For Real Estate

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is an important tool for real estate agents managing databases of prospective, current, and past clients. Every one of your contacts becomes more valuable to you once you have systems in place to follow up on regular and professional basis.

Used well, a CRM system should enable you to convert more leads into clients, better manage your existing clients, do more business with previous clients, and earn more referrals from satisfied past clients. But, how should one go about choosing an appropriate CRM solution?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating a CRM system:

1) CRM systems are notoriously difficult to use. This is typically due to the amount of functionality and features which sometimes are cobbled together over the lifetime of the product. Finding a CRM system that’s intuitive and easy to use will save you many frustrated hours later on.

2) Has your broker adopted the CRM system or are you on your own? Having your company use the same system can be very advantageous. This can allow you to leverage broker resources for marketing and promotion and have business-specific tools at your disposal.

3) Can you easily organize and data-mine your contact list? This can be especially useful for targeted marketing campaigns. Ability to search by virtually any contact field is priceless.

4) Can you import/export contacts and data from the system? If not, it’s hard to get started, and even harder to leave if you decide to change systems.

5) If it has content for automated emails, is the content current? Markets and technology changes, so the references made within the content needs to stay current or the automated marketing pieces may do more harm than good.

6) Does it tie to social media? For example, can you import contacts from social media services? View a contact’s social media updates from within the CRM system? If not, you may be missing out on key data that could make your next interaction with your contact richer.

7) Can you customize automated content? It would be nice if you could truly automate everything, but some personalization is normally required to make content read like you wrote it. Does the system support this?

8) Does it support email, print, web, and Craigslist marketing? This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but if you can’t at least market yourself and listings through channels like this, the limitations may not make the system worth it.

9) Support. What forms of training and support are available? Print materials? Email? Phone support? Free or paid? Familiarizing yourself with a CRM system can be challenging. Especially if you have no one to call when you get stuck.

10) Price. Services like this can be expensive when purchased by individual agents or small teams. That said, if they’re used and used well, they are still well worth the investment. But, the costs often drop dramatically for agents who gain access to quality CRM systems through a large broker, franchise, or other group that can achieve some economies of scale.

11) Finally, does your CRM system integrate with the rest of your technology. Integrated solutions can save you time on data-entry and follow up.

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One Comment

  1. Kevin Koitz June 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Ed, I stumbled upon your post and you nailed it.
    Flexibility of the CRM, even the what data is presented on the “summary screen” (the interface design) can mean hours in a year. What if you want to add in a “sent to read ratio”? Automated alerts after a consumer hits 20 property detail views. If you’re a group, do you have action plans depending on your discussion / email interaction with a consumer. Social – ehhh, yes yet another underutilized engagement/”introduction” method.

    Automation? I’m still on the fence…full automation would mean you’d never be on the phone and that’s where you build relationships.

    An integrated solution for holistic, multi-channel/medium marketers is another challenge. Especially if you want to test out different IDX’s. That’s my largest challenge – even if imperfect, the ability to use Gravity Forms…or a modification fo the plugin, to capture multiple IDX feeds data (IDXpress, Ihomefinder WP plugin etc…

    I know you can do it, and if I weren’t relying third party system that’s “challenging” :-), I’d start thinking more about one stop for multi-web property, social, even print collateral (QR codes?) solutions.

    Thanks again…it’s an important part of our businesses and few companies do it as well as they should.