A customer relationship management (CRM) system is vital to building a successful real estate business that’s based on referrals and repeat transactions.
Not only will a top-notch real estate CRM help you stay organized and in-control, but it will make it easy for you to keep in touch and build long-term relationships with clients and prospects. Remember, at its core, real estate is a relationship business, and referrals and repeat transactions stem from maintaining relationships and growing them over time.
A study conducted by the real estate community ActiveRain found that the highest-earning real estate agents (those making over $100,000 a year) invest six times as much in technology than the lowest earning ones. According to ActiveRain, “Customer relationship management systems or a database are an integral part of their success. Almost twice as many rich real estate agents use a CRM or lead management system than poor real estate agents.”
But not all solutions are created equal. While some are still stuck in the ‘90s, others strive to stay ahead of the curve and are constantly innovating.
What makes a great CRM? Below are some key qualities.
1. A powerful and robust email marketing platform
Email is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to communicate with, and market to, prospects and customers. The top CRMs include pre-designed drip email marketing campaigns for different types of contacts, a monthly real estate newsletter or e-newsletter and a variety of email templates to choose from, such as “just listed” and “just sold” e-cards and e-flyers.
Drip email marketing campaigns are great because they’re one way to ensure you keep in touch with your entire real estate database. One of the best parts is that emails get sent out automatically, which is a huge time saver. A valuable email marketing feature that only the most cutting-edge real estate CRMs have is email campaign reporting. After an email marketing piece is sent out, you can view open rate, forward rate, bounce back rate and click-through rate. You can also identify the hot leads in your database by seeing who has engaged with your emails the most.
Many agents pay separately for a real estate CRM, an email marketing system and a real estate newsletter or e-newsletter service. These agents know that not only can this be very expensive, but it’s a hassle transferring contacts from your CRM to your email marketing system, such as Constant Contact, every time you want to send a mass email. To prevent this, make sure your real estate CRM has robust email marketing functionality.
2. Works with other systems
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about Apple’s exploding popularity over the last decade. Yet many of the top CRMs in the industry are still not fully Mac-compatible. If you’re not using a Mac now or don’t have an iPad yet, you may get one in the future, so being Mac-compatible is an important consideration. Make sure the CRM works with Safari, Apple’s web browser, and is fully optimized for the iPad and other tablets.
It’s also a big plus if the system can sync with the native calendar and address book built into your smartphone. This is beneficial because you won’t have to log into an app every time you want access to your contact or appointment information. Smartphone sync should be about saving you time and making your job easier, not harder.
It’s also a big advantage if the CRM syncs with Outlook and Mac Address Book.
3. Powerful contact management features
Your real estate CRM needs to have contact profiles with fields for both the main contact and their spouse. You need to be able to record birthdays, anniversary dates, interests, information about the contact’s children and more. These types of fields are important, because it’s precisely that kind of information you need to know to build relationships with people and to have meaningful, relevant conversations with them.
You also need to be able to easily group and categorize your contacts, record where they came from, their mortgage details and any referrals they’ve given you.
I also want to mention that the CRM should automatically capture leads from your website and place them directly in your real estate database. From there, you can respond to the lead right away and/or assign them to a drip email marketing campaign.
4. Effectively managing and organizing your listings
One of the great benefits of a CRM is that it’ll help you get organized. That means it can’t be lacking in features when it comes to managing your active business. You should be able to manage offers, key dates and third parties. You’ll also want to record notes, generate service reports, list property details, track commissions and upload and store transaction documents.
Once a listing has been created in the system, you can assign the listing to an activity plan, which will help you make sure that you’re reminded when to do key activities and that nothing falls through the cracks.
So now you may be wondering, “Which systems should I take a closer look at?” IXACT Contact has everything I discussed in this article and more. But one of the best things about the CRM is that it’s very easy to learn and use. The user experience is great and in many respects, this is the most important consideration. No matter how fantastic a CRM is, if you can’t use it effectively or don’t want to use it, it’s worthless to you and your business.
Agents are hit with one expense after another and often have to deal with an inconsistent stream of income. But of everything Realtors have to spend money on, a real estate CRM is probably one of the best investments. The return on investment is just too significant to glaze over. I hope this article has shed some insight on CRM and what to look for.
Matthew Collis is part of the Sales and Marketing Team at IXACT Contact Solutions Inc., a leading North American real estate CRM firm. In addition to overseeing many of IXACT Contact’s key sales and marketing programs, collis works with REALTORS to help them achieve their goals through effective contact management and relationship marketing. IXACT Contact is a web-based real estate contact management and marketing system designed to help Realtors get more referrals and manage the transaction side of their business, keeping them more organized and in control.