Are simple CRMs a good thing?

The first real estate contact manager was created in 1982 by Howard Sanderson.

It was called Howard and Friends and agents loved it. It was the first of dozens of software tools to help real estate agents do a better job of organizing their business. Unfortunately there were a relative few people who even knew about it. Those who did buy it, did so because they recognized a need for more help with their business. Everyone else just kept using what they knew – Outlook! That was called a “Contact Manager” which is a much more apt name than CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) because it did/does so little. Are simple CRMs a good thing? No. If you go too simple, don’t bother. Stay with Outlook. 

The problem with Outlook was that all it did was track your people…old style crm

…and let you make appointments on the calendar. That was pretty much it. It was essentially a glorified Rolodex That’s enough for some people, but not enough to really get the job done right. What was missing? The ability to create “activity plans”; to be able to string together a list of things you want to do with the timing you need.  That and the ability to “complete” an activity. These capabilities are necessary to be truly organized.

When agents started to realize what they needed…

…they started looking for alternative solutions. After Howard and Friends in 1982 came Real Estate Specialist a few years later. After that came Top Producer in 1989 and Agent Office in 1992. Now the tools existed to really help. The issue then became, was there something better. More and more CRMs for real estate came out and they kept getting more and more complex. Then something different happened. People started losing sight of what they needed in the first place and they started complaining that the CRMs were too complicated. 

The result was that some real estate CRMs started dumbing themselves down.

It got to the point where some of them were not much more powerful than Outlook. Are simple CRMs a good thing?

Now what we have is over 30 real estate specific CRMs of many varieties that have many different strengths and weaknesses, as well as levels of complexity. You can now get CRMs that are extremely basic. The question you want to ask yourself is this; “Do I want to get better and faster and more efficient, or do I simply want a glorified Rolodex? If it’s the former, don’t let the allure of simplicity fool you. The more simple the CRM is, the less it does. Do your due diligence and find a CRM that suits your needs. Just remember that you’re getting it to serve a purpose, not just to pacify someone who said you should have a CRM. There’s no point in investing the time and money into one if it’s not going to help much. 

If you need help finding the right solution, contact me. That’s what I do!

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