Raise your hand if you’d like to attract more clients, close more deals, stay on top of tasks and eliminate a lot of manual work. Sounds pretty good, right? Real estate CRM software can help you do just that.
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If you’re ready to say goodbye to the manual grind and invest in a real estate CRM system but are feeling overwhelmed with all the options, you’ve come to the right place. In this post we’ll cover:
What Is Real Estate CRM?
CRM stands for customer relationship management. Technically, it refers to the process of managing customer relationships across the entire customer lifecycle. However, it also commonly refers to the software that companies use to accomplish sales, marketing and service activities.
Real estate CRM is simply software specifically designed to help agents, brokerages and teams. While products created for real estate will have a lot of overlap with general CRM solutions, they’re able to accommodate demands and solve problems that are specific to the real estate industry.
Here are a few examples:
- CRM software in many other industries helps companies drive repeat business. However, return clients in real estate are much more rare, so nurturing long term relationships that can generate new referrals is key.
- The lead-to-close cycle is longer and requires a different level of involvement with the lead at multiple stages.
- Real estate deals include paperwork — sometimes a lot of it. It may also involve background or credit checks. The CRM should be able to support these unique needs.
- The option to directly integrate with an MLS feed is critical. General CRM systems aren’t able to accept an MLS feed, meaning you have to manually enter all listing data into market listings.
- Data security is a big deal no matter where you go, but it’s particularly important in real estate. You’ll be storing sensitive client data, so it’s paramount that the CRM platform (whether hosted in the cloud or on-premise) has proper measures in place to minimize data breaches.
A CRM system will produce the most benefit when it works in harmony with the real estate industry’s unique requirements. The platform you choose should provide the tools that fit your business model and enhance it.
The key to finding an effective CRM package is to separate the “must-have” features from the “nice-to-haves.” We’ll cover the top features so you know what to be on the lookout for, but you should also create your own list based on the specific intricacies of your business.
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How Using a CRM Can Benefit You
Do you still use spreadsheets, sticky notes and email? If so, switching to a real estate CRM system can make a huge difference.
Real estate CRM software helps you:
A CRM can handle a lot of manual tasks like data entry and bulk email, freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your business and get more done in a day.
For example, imagine sending an email blast about new housing opportunities to 100 of your contacts. Instead of finding and adding every email address, you could use the segmented lists you’ve built to email the right group of people in a fraction of the time. Simply write the email, choose the target list and send it or schedule it to go out at the most optimal time.
CRM software, by nature, is a repository of data — everything from lead information to marketing performance results. This central database lets you store and access this information all in one location, neatly organized and arranged like a digital filing cabinet.
Many solutions also offer calendars, to-do lists and other tools that help you organize your business. No more digging around for a client phone number or wondering if you emailed that newsletter to all 500 subscribers on your list.
Many CRMs include automated response features so you can ensure you’re always able to immediately connect with leads, even if you’re busy. Mobile apps also let you manually respond from your phone while out of the office.
Of course, you don’t want automated messages to come across as impersonal. However, you can set up the auto-replies to acknowledge the prospect and let them know you’re unavailable but will get in touch when you can. This prevents them from feeling ignored and dropping off your radar in search of a better experience.
Make It Personal
Consumers crave personalized experiences. Your clients are no different. But providing that customized level of service can be difficult without software to do the heavy lifting.
You can use the information stored in your CRM to learn more about your clients and leads. What home amenities are most important to them? What’s their dream location? What neighborhood features are non-negotiable? Armed with this knowledge, you can provide much better suggestions.
Another way a CRM can help personalize the experience is through segmentation. You can divide your contact list into subgroups based on shared factors such as location, target price range or type of listing (condo vs. home, for example). This way, any content or updates you send will be highly relevant.
Stay in Touch
Connecting with leads is one thing, but staying on their radar after they’ve moved in? That’s another matter. Real estate CRMs make it easy to stay in touch naturally. For example, you can set reminders for important dates — such as a client’s move-in date or a couple’s anniversary — and then send a brief note or email to keep the relationship alive.
Not only will this personal touch make clients feel appreciated, it will improve your chances of working with them again if they decide to purchase another home down the road.
Real Estate CRM Features
Let’s look at some of the essential capabilities in a real estate CRM solution and why they play such a pivotal role in the industry.
Also called contact management, this feature is a core piece of any CRM system. In real estate, it allows a business to manage all its leads and contacts with tools that address the industry’s unique environment. Given the need to continually drive new leads, through referrals and other methods, having lead management capabilities is crucial.
Lead management often includes:
- Data import, so you can load leads from external sources like spreadsheets
- Automatic capture, which logs leads from web forms, social media ads and other sources
- Routing or lead distribution, so agents all work with the most appropriate leads
- Segmentation based on criteria such as source, type and status (current or past client), letting you better strategize promotional and selling incentives
- Lead scoring, which shows the hottest leads
As with any business, seeing the status of all your deals in one place is critical. The pipeline feature in a CRM — often a visual view with cards that represent each deal — makes this possible. You can drag each card from queue to queue as a deal progresses through the pipeline, giving you full visibility.
Look for pipelines that allow you to attach documents and log other details on the cards so you have all the necessary information right at hand. Most systems also include summary statistics that show metrics like total revenue in the pipeline, number of closed deals and other vital data.
This feature can come in many forms, depending on how robust the CRM platform is. Some products may use simple email and text tools while others provide full-fledged marketing automation functionality.
Marketing automation tools should include email capabilities beyond what you can do with a regular app like Gmail or Outlook. Here are some you should look for:
- Drip campaigns, which let you nurture leads with helpful, relevant content
- Automation, so you can schedule email campaigns or set up autoresponders (example: sending a “thank you” message when someone signs up for your newsletter)
- Prebuilt templates and configuration options
- Analytics like open and click-through rates, letting you measure your efforts so you can improve your outreach
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This feature is particular to real estate CRM solutions. The way it’s configured may vary, but ideally integration should be seamless so the MLS data updates within the CRM automatically.
Support for Popular Tools
Ideally, you shouldn’t have to rework the apps you already use when you incorporate a CRM system into the mix. The CRM should be able to integrate with commonly-used tools like Google Docs, Dropbox and MS Office, along with programs like your accounting software.
Most importantly, it should support platforms specific to real estate. These can include Realtor.com, Zillow, Easy Agent Pro and Trulia.
Mobile App or Capability
The ability to work while on the go is a standard offering of cloud-based products. It helps you be more productive and always have the information you need.
The two most common ways a product accomplishes this are through are a mobile app or a mobile-responsive design. With a mobile app, you download it to your phone or tablet and use the software through that interface.
In some cases, the app won’t have all the tools the CRM system does, limiting what you can do while out of the office. Click-to-call, voice recording notes and bulk texting are a few helpful features to consider.
Mobile-responsive design, on the other hand, doesn’t involve any extra apps. You simply access the CRM platform by logging in from a web browser on your mobile device. The system is designed to format correctly on a mobile layout without compromising navigation or functionality.
While not a software feature per se, this component is one of the most important. You want a system that will make your job easier. After all, you don’t have time to waste on a steep learning curve or clunky interface.
Unless you’re tech-savvy, look for systems that have an intuitive layout, user-friendly design, drag-and-drop tools, visual builders and premade templates. The software, like a well-cared-for car, should carry you through the day without complications or breakdowns.
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