If you found a great way to do something or maybe found a feature that you didn’t know existed, share it!

Top Producer Export

Top Producer fields that may be exported:

Following are the 236 fields that may be exported from Top Producer 8i in a CSV format. Note the fields in bold which are of particular interest to many.

Contact fields:

Contact ID, Contact Type(category), Source, Inquiry form, Primary FirstName, Primary LastName, Primary Initial, Primary NickName, Primary Jr_Sr, Primary Mr_Mrs, Primary Titl, Primary Designation, Letter Salutation, Envelope/Label Salutation, Company, Primary Gender, Primary Birthday, Email Address, Unsubscribed, Web Address, Other Email_Web Type, Other Email_Web Addr, Other Email_Web Desc, Home Phone, Home Phone Ext, Home Ph Desc, Bus Phone, Bus Phone Ext, Bus Ph Desc, Other Phone, Other Phone Ext, Other Ph Desc, Other Ph Nums Title, Other Phone Nums, Other Phone Nums Ext, Other Ph Nums Desc, Mobile Phone, Mobile Phone Ext, Mobile Ph Desc, Pager Number, Pager Ext, Pager Desc, Fax Number, Fax Ext, Fax Desc, Urgency, Contact Note Date, Contact Notes, Hidden contacts, Secondary FirstName, Secondary LastName, Secondary Initial, Secondary NickName, Secondary Jr_Sr, Secondary Mr_Mrs, Secondary Title, Secondary Designation, Secondary Gender, Secondary Birthday, FF FirstName, FF LastName, FF Birthday, FF Relation, FF Resident, Asst FirstName, Asst LastName, Asst Initial, Asst Designation, Asst Email

Tenant fields:

Tenant ID, Tenant Primary FirstName, Tenant Primary LastName, Tenant Primary Mr/Mrs, Tenant Secondary FirstName, Tenant Secondary LastName, Tenant Secondary Mr/Mrs, Tenant Home Phone, Tenant Home Ext, Tenant Home Ph Desc, Tenant Business Phone, Tenant Bus Ext, Tenant Bus Ph Desc, Tenant Mobile Phone, Tenant Mobile Ext, Tenant Mobile Ph Desc,

Property/Listing fields:

Address ID, Property Type, House Number, Direction Prefix, Street, Street Designator, Direction Suffix, Suite No, PO_Box, Bldg_Floor, City, County, State, Zip, Country, List Price, Sales Price, Taxes, Tax Year, Tax Asses, Land Asses, Air Con, RV Parking, Attached, Bldg Improve, Tax Roll No, Year Built, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Lot Size, Sq Feet, Levels, House Style, Parking, Zoning, Flooring, Dist To Transit, Dist To School, Last Sold, Heating, Roof, Other Items, Construction, Exterior, Area, Fireplaces, Basement, Sewer, Water, Financing, Legal Descr, Property Descr, Room Type ID, Room Description, Room Length, Room Width, Room Dimension, Room, Features, Site/View,

Present Home fields:

Present Min Price, Present Max Price, Present Property ID, Present Hm Note Date, Present Hm Notes

Future Home fields:

Future Min Price, Future Max Price, Future House Style, Future Sq Feet, Future Bedrooms, Future Bathrooms, Future Area, Future Dist To School, Future Features, Future Parking, Future Other Items, Future Hm Note Date, Future Hm Notes

Listing fields:

Listing ID, List Addr ID, List Addr, List Exp Date, List Exp Reminder Date, List MLS No, List Property Type, List House Style, Listing Price, List Date, List Term, List Source, List Terms, List Status ID, List Status, List Note Date, List Notes, List Inclusions, List Exclusions, Sellers Name, List Seller, List Commission, How To Show, Sign Placed, Lock Box Checkbox State, Lock Box No, Flyer Description, Flyer Text

Closing fields:

Closing ID, Closing Addr ID, Closing Addr, Closing MLS No, Closing Sales price, Closing Commission, Closing Source, File No, Closing Property Type, Acceptance Date, Possession Date, Closing Date, Representation, Closing Party ID, Closing Party Name, Closing Party Role, Closing Party Role ID, Closing Status ID, Closing Status, Closing Note Date, Closing Notes

Referral fields:

Lead Type, Lead Status ID, Lead Status, Referred Contact ID, Referred Contact Name, Referred To/By Contact ID, Referred To/By Contact Name, Referral Direction, Referral Number, Referral Source, Referral Date, Transaction Status ID, Transaction Status, Referral Closing Date, Sale price, Commission Amount, Check Amount, Check Sent/Received Date, Referral Fee Percent, Referral Flat Fee, Referral Progress ID, Referral Progress Status, Referral Note Date, Referral Notes

Real Estate CRM Learning Tools

Real Estate CRM Learning Tools

Choosing a Real Estate CRM is a Major Decision

Be smart and learn more about them before you make a decision

Following is a collection of webinars, articles and other tools to help you learn what Real Estate CRM is all about, as well as how to use one better.


RealtorMag Interview

I was among several people to have been interviewed in a recent article for RealtorMag Online by Michael Antoniak entitled 2015 CRM Solutions: Is Simpler Better?  Hope you enjoy it.


Real Estate Grad School Webinar

Rich Levin of Real Estate Grad School hosted a webinar where I answered questions such as:

  • Are there different CRM’s you recommend for different levels of agents?
  • What’s the best CRM? There is no best CRM. There is only the one that is best you, based on your aptitude, current needs and future goals.
  • What steps can I take to increase my chances of getting a CRM and sticking with it?​
  • ​Why not get a cheaper CRM with less features in the beginning and move to a better one when I can afford it?​
  • ​There are a lot of really good CRMs that are not specifically made for the real estate industry. When is it appropriate to get one of them vs one created for Real Estate?

The webinar was on August 21st at 11:30 EST.

Learn Real Estate CRM

What can a Real Estate CRM do for you?

An updated excerpt from Gary’s book that will give you an overview of some of the things that are possible by using a Real Estate CRM to run your business.

Read the excerpt

Real Estate CRM Tips

Google Hangout with Rob Aubrey

“Talking Real Estate CRM

Rob is the broker of record at Aubrey and Associates Realty and a major techy

Watch the video!


ABR – REBAC Webinar

“Contacts to Contracts – Managing Leads in Your CRM”

REBAC hosted Gary for his presentation “From form submission to follow-up. How do different CRMs do it?”

Watch the recorded webinar

ABR CRM Webinar


Point2 Agent Webinar

“Tips to Better Use CRM’s to Generate and Cultivate Leads

Point2 Agent web Sites hosted Gary for this presentation

Watch the recorded webinar

VA Realtor Logo

Virginia Association of Realtors Magazine Interview

“Kill Your Rolodex

This is a magazine article Gary was interviewed for, among others. Scroll down to the article

Read the Article – Sorry – they moved it

onlinedominance crm

Real Estate Dominance Webinar
Mr.  Internet’s OnlineDominance.com hosted Gary for a Webinar – “Top 10 things to look for in a CRM”

Click to watch the webinar – Sorry, they’re gone

Salt Lake BOR

Salt Lake Board of Realtors Tech Summit Webinar

Picking a CRM
Salt Lake Board hosted Gary for two Webinars – “Top 10 things to look for in a CRM” and “Trending CRM Features”.

Click here to watch


Choosing and Using a Contact Manager or CRM
A PDF eBook by Gary David Hall

Buy the book


Considerations when choosing a Real Estate CRM
A 60 minute Power Point Presentation by Gary David Hall
Prepared for the Real Estate Cyberspace Society’s Cyber Convention

Watch the Power Point Presentation – Sorry – I’ve been here for twenty years but others come and go.

CRM Article

The Most Important Thing you Need to Know About

Choosing a Real Estate CRM

Link to the Article

CRM Blog

Gary’s Blog

Gary’s searchable  blog posts going back to 2005.

It’s amazing how most of them are still relevant!

Go to Gary’s Blog

3d man crm recording

Interview for “The Lead Booster Club” by CEO Kathy Goughenour

Kathy interviews Gary for her membership for an hour, with a wide range of questions about
Real Estate Contact Management & CRM Productivity Solutions

Listen to the interview

CRM History

A History of CRM in Real Estate

“…comprehensive, unbiased,……..aspects of making a decision on Contact Management I never even thought of………far and away the best article of it’s kind I’ve ever seen on the Internet…”

Part one of two

Read the article

Real Estate CRM – Learn About it!

What Can a CRM do?

CRM Features

Following is an updated excerpt from my book that will give you an overview of the many features that exist in Real Estate CRMs to help you run your business better.

Many agents with whom I speak think that a Real Estate CRM is essentially a glorified Rolodex. If that’s all you want it to be, then that’s all it will be for you. But if you’re a good business person, you can and should run your business with it. So what can a Real Estate CRM do besides track your contacts?

In general it means the following will happen. The degree to which you will experience these depends entirely upon how many features you take advantage of in your CRM and how well you use them.

  • Less stress for you and your clients
  • All your information at your fingertips wherever you are
  • Less mistakes
  • Less staff
  • Better service to your clients
  • More respect from everyone you work with
  • More referrals

For what it’s worth. How do I know this? Because I started real estate using a DOS CRM in 1988. In 1994 I closed 47 sides with a part time assistant and a buyer agent. I personally experienced the benefits from many of the features below even then.

OK so how specifically can a CRM help you accomplish these desirable outcomes?

Adoption: One of the most difficult challenges as a team leader or broker is getting the agents to actually use the CRM. What’s the answer? Gamification! A built-in tracking and reward system for using the CRM. The more they use it and the more parts of it they use, the bigger the reward. It could be as simple as a badge in the system that displays their accomplishments, or as generous as gift cards for milestones achieved.  Or how about a grading system? You keep an A+ grade for follow-up in the CRM for a year and you get that extra bonus or higher split.

Affiliations: Many CRMs have third party affiliations to expand it’s feature set. The ability to automatically dial phone numbers in a series would be an example. Interaction with Docusign, DotLoop, Evernote, and others are other examples.

Agent referral network: With this rare but available tool, you can put your listings in your CRM and have other agents with the same CRM see them, and search their own CRM for buyers matching them. It’s agent networking at it’s best and easiest.

Appointment management: The ability to not only track when and where you had an appointment with someone, but also have the ability to note the substance of that appointment. All appointments are automatically added as a history entry with the contact or transaction.

Articles for sharing: This is an extremely cool feature. You can be on a blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and by using a shortcut on your browsers favorites bar, add the article on the page to the CRM’s content. You can then share with all your contacts or just with specific groups of people. This is the perfect tool to make it extremely easy to do some very personalized marketing. There is no better kind of marketing and it’s normally harder to do so most agents don’t do it. Now you have no excuse!

Blast emails: Send out a newsletter or blast email to your sphere of influence and then watch as people identify themselves as the hottest prospects. Huh? Campaign reporting. You can see who clicked on what and how many times. That guy that keeps clicking madly on everything you send him – call him. Now.

Business accounts:  If someone is not a past client or a prospect, they are a company. So entities like title companies, mortgage companies, home inspectors and the like can be considered Business Accounts. These kinds of contacts are different by definition and should have different information available in a different format and order than regular contacts. In most CRMs you can do a search for contacts that are categorized as Home Inspector for instance. That serves the purpose, but this one has a screen that is specific to the purpose instead of a regular contact screen. This is unique out of all the CRMs I have seen and now that I’ve seen it, I don’t understand why they don’t all do this!

Buyer requirements: Record your buyers preferences with their contact record and have them available wherever you are. Search your CRM to find the buyers who may be interested in that new listing you just got.

Call log/automation: Some agents love to sit down at their desk, strap their headset on, and get a ton of calls done quickly. Most CRMs do not have this feature but have it in various formats. Some enable integration with third party solutions to facilitate it.

Categorization: There are many names for ways to categorize the contacts in your database. They include, category, contact type, group, classifications, and even buckets. This is one of the core functions for a CRM. They enable you to categorize and find anyone by using one category or a combination of many as well as to exclude certain ones in the search.

Chat for your web site: You’re on your computer and you hear a beep. You open your CRM and there is a notification that someone is on your web site and wants to chat with you.  You respond from within the CRM, land a new buyer prospect and it’s all recorded in a log in that person’s contact record.

Client reporting: One of the things I have promoted for many years is to utilize the Activity Plans/Campaigns/Workflows to launch follow-up plans for listings and closings. I developed activity plans for listings and closings when I was an active agent and was amazed at how they took me to a whole new level in my business. My stress levels were reduced. Things stopped falling through the cracks. My team stopped playing Who’s got the file. It was a game changer.  I later developed Trans-Plans Listing & Closing Activity Plans and Emails/Letters for many of the CRMs I have here. Some of the CRMs enable you to automatically generate a PDF report or a Web Page that chronicles your efforts. Every time you complete a task, it automatically becomes part of these reports. The listing presentation and the initial buyer interview presentation is all about differentiating yourself from the rest of the mooing herd. How better to do this than to offer them something they haven’t been offered by anyone else?

Closing coordination: Too many details can fall through the cracks. The busier you get, the more details you have swimming around in your head. Every day you have to make many decisions regarding what actions you need to take for which transactions. And then you come in the next morning, look at all those same files again and make all those same decisions again. Even the best paper list and file methods are rife with bottlenecks and inconsistencies. Having all the information you need in one place, as well as all your to-do’s automatically posted on your daily to-do list, makes your job far easier and less stressful. Add to that that as you mark a task done, it automatically adds itself to a report that you email as a PDF or send the client a URL that they can log on to to see the status of their transaction. Not only did you not have to spend the time answering the question, but you have provided better service than 99% of the other agents with just that one service!

Communications documentation: Also known as history, there is a place where it all comes together. History is comprised of notes, tasks, phone calls, e-mails, letters, post cards, fliers, and appointments. You will have a contiguous record of everything that has happened with that contact or transaction.

I once had an attorney for the spouse in a divorce send me a letter essentially saying that I was not doing anything to get the house sold. He picked the wrong agent to challenge. My client/seller was also a developer and was going to build four spec homes. I wanted those listings. Not only had I been doing everything under the sun to market the home, including having it priced right, but it was all documented in detail. It took literally two minutes to find what I needed and print it out. I sent him a couple months worth of documentation and I never heard from him again. Sold the house by the way. If you are ever challenged legally, having a documented record all in one location is a beautiful thing.

Contact management: That means everyone including suspects, prospects, clients, vendors, friends, relatives, and neighbors. Know how to find any information on anyone, even from many years ago, with a few clicks virtually instantly. Try that with post-its, desktop blotters or napkins.

Customizability: Most do not, but some are capable of actually adding, deleting, or moving fields, or rearranging entire screens.

Document management: Store all documents and photographs relevant to a transaction with the transaction record and/or the contact record.

Dynamic mailing lists: You just got off the phone with a hot buyer prospect and you want to make sure to follow up with him. You add him as a new contact and add him to the category Hot Buyer Prospect. You’re done! Because when you added him to that category it automatically added him to the follow-up plan you designated for Hot Buyer Prospects. You don’t have to take more steps in Prospect Converter to add him to a follow-up campaign because it added him to it simply by adding him to that particular category. Just one more way to save yourself some time.

E-mail management: How many e-mails are in your inbox, or in an overburdened folder filing system? Do you have the folders labeled by contact, listings, closings, etc.? If you already have a contact record, listing file, and closing file in the CRM, why would you maintain a 100% redundant set of files in your email software? If you need quick access to see, send, or print an all-inclusive and contiguous record of a contact’s history or a transaction, it can be a simple matter of a few clicks in the CRM to do any of them. Email software is to send and receive email. CRM is to track, consolidate, disseminate, and archive email in conjunction with it’s corresponding history.

Geographic farms: You can create socially enabled neighborhood pages within your CRM that is in a format very similar to Facebook so people will be able to easily adopt it. It’s like having a Facebook page for a geographic farm but you’re in total control. Getting established in a geographihc farm can take years and there are many things you can do to help establish yourself as the defacto agent in a neighborhood. This may be the very best one!

Goal setting and tracking: I attended entire seminars devoted to learning this back in the day. We used sheets of paper. Set your financial goals and determine the gross needed to obtain the net. Break that down into transactions needed. Then track what it takes to get those transactions  and set daily, weekly, monthly prospecting goals. Tie it all in with your CRM and you have the tools it takes to become a money making machine.

Google integration: Most of the better CRMs now integrate with Google Contacts and Calendar. Some also enable Gmail email to be displayed from within the CRM in the contact record.

Landing pages: Single web pages provided by the CRM to enable lead generation and auto-population of those leads into the CRM.

Lead distribution and tracking: The ability to give out a lead to a team member, and then follow up to see if that member is doing what you want them to do to capitalize on that lead. This feature can be as simple as a next up or as powerful as being able to pick which agents get what kind of leads

Lead source tracking: Knowing where your business is coming from and spending your marketing time and money accordingly/wisely. If you spent $3,000 on Homes & Living last year and you closed $23,000 in business as a direct result. You spent $2,000 on Homes and Land last year and you had zero sales. If name recognition in Homes & Land is worth $2,000 then maybe you keep advertising. If you;re looking for ROI from it, maybe you drop it.

Listing coordination: The biggest complaint lodged against Real Estate agents has always been poor communication. A comprehensive, automatically executed listing plan enables you to turn those complaints into praise, effortlessly and automatically. Instead of looking at a checklist on the inside of your listing files each day to see what you need to do, you will have an automatically generated to-do list that tells you only what you need to do that day.

Listing import: Instead of keying your listing information into the CRM, you can just key in the MLS number and click import. Voila! Any field that is complete in the MLS, which has a corresponding field in the CRM gets populated automatically.

Mail merge: Do all print or e-mail merging from within the CRM eliminating redundant external databases.

MLS Replacement? You meet a buyer at an open house. You add them as a buyer lead in your CRM including their preferences/criteria. You then do an MLS search from within your CRM, and send them the results. You also add them to the automatic notification list for new listings that meet their needs, from your CRM. What I am saying is that you can now do all the work you want with a client, including their MLS searches, all from within the CRM. It can have an IDX feed directly into it, instead of your web site! And it does more than the MLS does to track what they’ve seen, clicked on, etc. What’s the big deal? It saves a significant amount of time.

Mobility: For years agents have had the impression that in order to use a CRM you had to be tied to your desk all the time. That was never really true but now it’s clearly not an issue of any kind. Relatively recently the better CRMs have gone to having a different User Interface for the mobile devices. This means far more information available on your phone than in recent years when synching was the status quo. Now you can view and edit a great deal of contact information, property information, hot prospects, client call reminders and much more on your phone. Can you say “less calls , texts, and emails to my assistant”?

Neighborhood listings and sales: based on their physical address in the contact record, you can click on a button and see all the active listings and recent sales on an interactive map. So Barbara Past Buyer calls and says I just saw a new sign go up a block over. Can you tell me how much they are asking? Instead of saying Hold on while I get into the MLS and find it for you, you can see the listing she is talking about in about five seconds. So you might not have to let on that you don’t know about that listing in her neighborhood.

Newsletters: Some CRMs include a free newlsetter to be distributed through the CRM, and some enable campaign reporting to see what it happening with that mailing.

Performance Analysis: Which agents are your most valuable ones and why? When you have a system to track your leads, where they went, how quickly they were answered, who took more of them, etc., when you meet with the agent to discuss their performance you have data to analyze it.

Post closing follow-up/client retention: Not staying in touch with past clients is one of the single biggest causes of lost of income in the Real Estate sales industry. Never lose another referral due to your failure to stay in touch. Easily set up smart reminders for you to call past clients every X months. But unlike a recurring activity, a smart reminder checks the contact’s notes to see if you contacted them in the last X months. If you did, it will reset the reminder to X months from that last contact date before it reminds you unnecessarily.

Project management: Sometimes you have something going on that is not the norm. You need something laid out differently to track progress and post dates for tasks to be accomplished. Some CRMs have this extra kind of project handling.

Properties: Track your listing and sales information such as target dates, lockbox codes, and many other things. Right now you have it the MLS or a file. Do you have any idea how much faster it is to do your job when you have the most frequently used property information available in a matter of two to five seconds? A lot!

Prospecting: Get suspects, turn them into prospects, and turn them into sales. Know who they are, what they want, and when they want it, all in significant detail. Buyer, seller, prospect, golfer, Eagles Fan, Chardonnay, U of C… Be reminded to capitalize on that information automatically.

Referral tracking: Knowing who is referring you the most business, so you know who to do more for in return.

Rentals: Most North American agents do not bother with rentals for the most part but some do, so it’s helpful when a CRM enables you to track the necessary information. But – In other countries most agents work rentals as a normal part of their business. A fair number of Real Estate CRMs concentrate on markets outside North America so having rental features is getting to be more common.

Reports: You name it and it’s available in at least one of the CRMs. They offer simple contact reports all the way up to detailed reports of listings, sales, conversion rates, expenses, etc.

Risk reduction: Knowledge is power. If you use a CRM properly and consistently, you will automatically gravitate towards centralizing the huge volume of detail with which you work every day. It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to have a contiguous chronological accounting of any communications you have with clients and even prospects. You can be challenged at any point about a myriad of issues from Fair Housing Violations to Mortgage Fraud, Procuring Cause, and any number of other things. A CRM can easily and automatically organize you. Having complete records of phone calls, letters, e-mails, appointments, etc., insures that you will enjoy a superior position from which to defend yourself if need be.

Showings: Some CRMs not only have a feature that allows you to track showings, but also enable you to shoot out a quick email to all the showings agents to announce a price adjustment or other things.

Social media: This feature varies widely from one CRM to the next. It can be as simple as providing a window into the media, or as powerful as gathering information from social media and adding it to the CRM.

Smart follow-up: This feature keeps reminding you to follow up with past clients daily reminders. You tell it how often you want to be reminded and it takes care of it from there. You will never again lose a listing from a past buyer because you didn’t stay in touch with them by phone, (unless of course you choose to ignore the reminders).  You could schedule a recurring activity for each past client in your database to call them every six months. It works. It’s how we’ve been doing it. It gets better though. You could call it a smart reminder versus a recurring activity being a dumb reminder. A recurring activity will remind you every X months no matter what. This will not remind you to call unless it sees that there have been no notes with that contact for six months. The recurring activity will come up anyway, so you’ll have to delete it.  I prefer smarter!

Staff training and accountability: Personnel retention is a problem that never goes away. Having a system in place with notes built into the CRM task lists significantly diminishes the impact of a lost staff person. It enables you to have the new person step right into a tried and true system, and if you did it right, none of the details are lost in the transition from the old person to the new one. Additionally, it provides a clear picture of exactly what is being accomplish by whom each day, concerning each individual’s responsibilities.

Target Marketing: Quick search – anyone in Bucks or Montgomery Counties who is a golfer. Less than five minutes later you’ve fired off an email sharing that you saw that Bucks County Country Club has half price greens fees this month. They think it’s a personal email because it is so targeted. Shiny!

Time management: Having automated to-do lists, and organized methods of consistent follow-up. Decide what you want to do once in any given situation, and automatically follow up that way every time from then on. If you have even one other person with whom you work, you will be amazed at the amount of time you save by having all of your information organized and in one place, accessible by all, immediately. The number of texts, phone calls, and BCC’d emails will drop to almost nothing compared to now. And you never have to play the “Who has the file” game again.

Virtual Assistant Integration: Why bother finding a VA (Virtual Assistant) when your CRM can do it for you? Sort of. You post the job you need done in the CRM. You go to the VA tab and submit “Send ‘It’s Tax Time’ post card to SOI.” A VA picks it up and does it for you for $12-15/hr. And it’s out of your hands. These VA’s are specifically trained on your CRM.


Before you ask… there is no one CRM that has all of these features. Some have many. Many are moving closer.

Technology Consulting

Real Estate Technology Consulting

I certainly don’t know everything about everything, but after 27 years in the industry I knows a little about a lot of things, and lot about some things. My forte is CRM of course, but I have been following and teaching technology in general since 1992 when first asked to organize technology and CRM round tables for my local board. Since then I have been the roving technology consultant for the 3d man CRM educationRE/MAX region of SEPA & DE, created technology courses for RECS and my local real estate school and worked with many hundreds of agents from all over the world on a daily basis. If I don’t know something I will tell you and I will point you to the best person I know who specializes in that niche. There are a lot of topics out there where a relatively short conversation on can get you on the right path to a lot of future decisions. Let me help!

Below is a list of some of the topics with which I can help.

If you’re a new agent you stand to benefit the most. If you haven’t already, you will find that there are many agents who are very willing to share their advice. The question is, are you getting good advice? Since 1987 I have seen a great many agents fall into the same traps, set by well meaning advisers. Beware the agent who seems to know it all because they have been in the business so long. If they have been in the business for a long time, they should be doing a lot of business. If they are not, be very wary of their advice. The people to listen to are the ones that are successful. That said, many successful agents are doing well despite doing some things wrong. So what makes me right and them wrong? Nothing. Use me as a sounding board and you decide.

There are so many general topics to touch on. Here are a few things that very few agents do any more that are integral to building long term sturdy foundations for future business.

1) Become a student of the industry. If you do this one thing you will set yourself apart from the mooing herd and develop insights into ideas that will enable you to differentiate yourself and make more sales. An example:

Because I always kept up with what was going on in the industry nationally I learned in the late 80’s that California had just made seller disclosures mandatory. They were the first state to do so. I decided to create a seller disclosure for his market and then started presenting it to sellers as a benefit. If they showed their warts before the contract was signed, it was far less likely that they would be involved in litigation after closing. Before you get excited about the legality of it, it was presented as a non-binding tool that was authorized by in-house counsel. Don’t miss the point. It was a differentiator.

I also created a pre-closing walk-through checklist, buyer and seller handbooks, and other innovative approaches as well as spearheading buyer agency in the region.

Learn the law! The reason all the attorneys are telling you to do less and less is because the majority of agents are breaking the law on a regular basis because they don’t know the law. They’re telling you not to attend home inspections! That’s ridiculous. Being there you can see exactly what is going on and prevent over-reaction to issues. You also learn a great deal.

Buy a book on home construction. A thick one! Learn it and learn the terminology of the construction of a house.

2) Don’t work with buyers if they won’t come to your office to meet you first. This one is wildly controversial and it’s all because agents are not trained how to make it work. They’re afraid they will lose business. It’s a great conversation to have.

3) Know mortgages and qualifying. Know the approval process. Don’t just hand the buyer to the mortgage broker and become entirely dependent upon that person who is selling only the products that they have to tell you if your buyer qualifies or not.

4) Role play! Learn closing techniques and objection handling techniques from the best.

5) Learn agency law. It’s positively scary how few agents have a good understanding of agency law, dual agency, designated agency, transaction licensee, etc. I taught it for years and know for a fact that most of the few agents who think they understand, really do not.

6) Should you have a geographic farm? Without a doubt it is one of the most overlooked sources of regular income because it takes so long to cultivate.

7) NEVER trust all the other parties to the transaction to do their job. I closed a 147 transactions in five years with only one not closing on time. This is one of the reasons. How do you make sure they’re doing their jobs without making them angry? Another great conversation.

8) Learn condo docs and title policies. Why? Another great conversation.

The bottom line is that the quality of the vast majority of agents in the industry is not very good. You can become an exceptional agent who will be viewed as such if you simply become a student of the industry. It takes time, but it will yield more business, less litigation, more competence, respect of other agents and pride in yourself as a true professional.

I won sales in competing offers because the agent would tell their clients that they have worked with me before and they knew the odds of the transaction going smoothly and closing on time was greater when I was on the other end of the transaction. Would you like that reputation? Let me help you develop it!

Below is a partial list to give you some ideas of how I can help. If you don’t see what you want on the list, ask. I will tell you flat out if I can help or not.

Real Estate CRM Coaching

Real Estate CRM Coaching/Training

Did you just get your CRM and now you’re sitting there staring at it wondering what to do next?


Have you had your CRM for a while, done nothing with it, and now you’re still sitting there staring at it?

There are a LOT of people who do not like reading training documentation, watching videos, or participating in user groups. They learn faster and easier if someone walks them through it one-on-one. That’s where Real Estate CRM coaching comes in!

This is were my background comes into play for Real Estate CRM Coaching.

  • VP of Customer Success with Realvolve CRM
  • Retail Management
  • Computer Operations ManagementReal Estate CRM Coaching
  • Production Management
  • Computer Operations Support Manager
  • RE/MAX Agent closing almost 50 sales/yr. with an assistant and a buyer’s agent
  • RE/MAX Regional Roving Technology Consultant to 90 offices and 1,800 agents
  • Author “Choosing and Using a CRM”
  • Author and teacher of broker level credit courses in real estate technology
  • Founder/President – RE-ACT,LLC since 1999

It’s a lifetime mix that produces a perfect recipe for operations management and getting you organized and systematized with Real Estate CRM Coaching.

  • Spend a half hour or two with me for your Real Estate CRM coaching, learning the basics of your CRM. Learn how to get started getting your contacts set up and categorized properly and/or maybe learn the basics of activity plans
  • Meet weekly to learn more, and allow yourself to be pushed, through accountability, to make your CRM a habit
  • Meet weekly for an hour or two until you are done mastering your CRM and developing a full compliment of Prospecting, Listing, Closing, and post Closing follow-up plans.
  • $150/hour for a single hour. If you are going to require multiple hours or long term commitment, we can discuss the rate.
  1. Everyone has different needs. I am frequently asked by people who are about to purchase a CRM, “So how do I get started”. Many licensees are purchasing CRM Software because they have toThey realize they need to get themselves better organized, so they are forcing themselves to do it with a Real Estate CRM. Then they sit there staring at it wondering where to start. I can help with that. If that’s what you need, I’m here for you.
  2. Another kind of agent is the one who is excited about implementing a CRM software product, but they can never seem to get the time to do anywhere near what they wanted to do with it. When you have a weekly hour long appointment made with another person, a coach, then you are forced to do it. You commit to that time, and THAT works! Accountability works! Real Estate CRM Coaching provides accountability.
  3. Ultimately, if you have a powerful CRM and if you truly want to take advantage of its capabilities, we can start by learning the software if that is necessary, or we can jump straight into implementing a system that will make your business life so much easier you will not believe it. If you want to implement prospecting, listing, closing, and post closing plans, you may want to purchase Trans-Plans, & Dave Beson’s Letterwriter. It would cost more in my time to create it all from scratch than it would if you purchased them. Trans-Plans will install automatically in Top Producer, IXACT Contact, WiseAgent, Realvolve, Agent Office, Active Agent for Outlook, or Advantage Xi. Dave Beson’s products will install into even more programs. If you have a different CRM, we will just key them in one by one, together, or as “homework”.

green checklistIf #2 is what you’re looking for, that might look something like:

  • We make two lists of what you already know you want to accomplish, short term and/or long term
  • We make two lists of what I think you should add to your lists
  • We add what you want from my list to your list
  • We meet when you need to, for as long as you need to

If #3 is the direction you want to go, then what follows is a sample of some of what you can accomplish. You choose!

So what would it look like if you were to get truly organized?

  • The ability to walk in in the morning to an automatically generated list of to-do’s, calls, and mailings, insuring that no routine detail with any listing or closing, falls through the cracks.
  • This allows for quicker and easier training of assistants, and no-one being irreplaceable.  Do you have an in-office Conveyancer, or other people that do some of the work for you a la carte?  What happens when they leave, or something happens to them?  Using your own system ensures that the fate of your business will not be in your head, or anyone else’s.  Your entire operation will run what you do, and monitor what others do for you. This is the only way you can have complete control of your business!
  • This helps to establish your business as a turn-key operation for anyone wanting to purchase it in the future.
  • Print all the form letters follow-ups and thank you’s due out that day, with one click of a button
  • E-mail all your listing and closing communications with one click
  • Automatically generate reports detailing your efforts to all of your clients with a few clicks.
  • Generate a report for your listing appointments and initial buyer consultations that shows your prospective clients exactly what it is that you will be doing for them, and give them the comfort of showing them proof positive of your organization, and professionalism.

Legend of Terms

Vital Statistics and other Terms Defined

Out of Beta and Started SellingCRM Devlopment

When a software company develops a product they continually test it internally while they are developing it. But there is no substitute for having real people use it. That flushes out new issues that they have not yet seen. So they let a select group of people start using it. That is referred to as Beta Testing. Once done with that stage, it is ready for release to the general population. This is the year when that happened.

What Kind of Sales is This For?

The options are Residential, Commercial Sales, New Constructions Sales, Developer, Property Management, and we’ll throw in one more – Customizable.

Some CRMs are very black and white as to what kind of an agent would use it. Some are strictly for Residential Resale and you really wouldn’t be able to use it for anything else. Some are strictly for Commercial and so on. But some are made to do more than one thing so more than one thing will be listed.CRM choices

Customizable is a different kind of animal. It may be meant for one kind of sales, say residential resales, but it is so customizable that if you were primarily a residential agent, but you also did a few commercial deals here and there or specialized in REO’s, maybe you could make it work for you. When it is listed as a customizable CRM, that means it is capable of at least being able to add a few fields. Or the customizability can be as powerful as being able to create entirely new screens that you can use to do that occasional other kind of deal.

In some cases one CRM is created to do several kinds of sales so you would see Residential, Property Management

In other cases a CRM may be created to do more than one kind of sales, but is also Customizable. That means that it is already all set up to do both Residential and Property Management, but it is also customizable.

Confused? That’s what I’m here for. Call me at 215.813.2495 or use the Contact Us form if you have any questions.

Features: ♦♦♦♦

Don’t get too hung up on the number of diamonds. They are just a rough indication. Don’t take the following explanations to mean that whatever is in the description of the ♦’s is exact. If you think you want a ♦, look at ♦ and ♦♦. If you think you want a ♦♦, look at ♦♦ and ♦♦♦, etc.

♦ – Just contacts and follow-up please

You really just want something to insure that no one falls through the cracks. You don’t want transaction management, marketing, web pages, extensive drip campaigns and activity plans, etc.

♦♦ – No – I want a little more than that

You want that but also some nice other features that will make your life easier. You want other features such as but not necessarily to be able to do postal mailings, have a place to store property information, have a referral tree, or have email campaign reporting.

♦♦♦ – Definitely – more power!

You want to run your business with your CRM. You want to track your transactions and marketing campaigns, maybe add a team member or two, have a good selection of template emails and activity plans, and more!

♦♦♦♦ – I want to run as much of my business as possible with my CRM!!!

Because it has four diamonds does not mean it has everything. None of them do. But this is the group that has the most. You need to have at least a pretty good aptitude for software and you enjoy the prospect of tweaking it to make it yours, or you have someone on your team who does.  You want to automate your business as much as you can. You want things like good reporting capabilities, scalability to add agents, interoffice communications ability within the CRM, etc.

I was working with one of the CRMs and they made a good point. He basically said “Ours is easier to learn the most important things quickly”. Well, most of the better CRMs are relatively easy to learn quickly if all you’re learning is the basic aspects such as adding contacts, calendar, to-do’s, etc. He also said, “…but we hold the agent’s hand through the initial set-up”. OK that is different. So I put it in the Unique or Notable Features section.

So we’re going to use this as a rating that loosely indicates the total number of features.

I was tempted to call this Learning Curve but there is too much of a negative connotation associated with that phrase. A learning curve is simply an expression of how long it would take someone to learn everything there is to know about the CRM. It is not a bad thing. If I asked you how easy it was to learn to use MS Word you would likely say very easy, so it could be said that it has a short learning curve. But in reality if I re-phrased the question to ask “How long would it take you to learn everything there is to know about MS Word?”, you would change your response to a long time. It all comes down to how much of it you want to learn/use. Just because a CRM has a lot to it doesn’t mean you have to use it all. If it has everything you want, but then has more that you don’t, don’t use those features. If you want a Mercedes but never use cruise control you don’t think twice about getting it anyway. You just don’t use the cruise control. You can’t get it without it so you enjoy the features you want and ignore the ones you don’t. And if some day you start using cruises control, you have it.CRM Learning Curve

Take all of the Real Estate CRMs on the market and list all of their features. This includes things such as web pages for properties or landing pages for stealth lead generation. This is everything. On a scale of ♦ to ♦♦♦♦, how many features does this CRM have compared to the rest? The more on the list, the longer it takes to learn – if you want to learn all of it. That’s what this represents. Bear in mind that this is an entirely subjective rating. I’ve done my best to remain consistent but it’s a tough call.

While Real Estate CRMs in general have trended towards satisfying niche markets, there is also a welcome trend (for savvy treat your business like a business kind of users) in many Real Estate CRMs of trying to be an all-in-one answer to your technology needs. I have been espousing the concept of having as many things as possible under one roof for many years. Why? Because the bottom line primary benefit to using a CRM is efficiency. Using one product for email, another for blast emails, another for contact follow-up, another for transaction management, another for marketing, and so on, is inefficient. It requires maintaining many databases which means redundant data entry and things falling through the cracks due to one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

Do not misinterpret this to mean that I think everyone should have a CRM with ♦♦♦♦. Well okay – maybe I do. But that doesn’t mean everyone will agree with me. So ♦♦♦♦ just means that it has more features than a CRM with ♦♦♦. It does not mean that it is the best for everyone. Some people, despite my best efforts to convince them otherwise, simply do not want one that is capable of running a large part of their business. So a ♦ translates to a phrase I use to describe the kind that many agents want. Get in and get out. They just want essentially something to track their contacts and help them keep in touch. They are unwilling or unable to use it for more. That is the point of the ♦♦♦♦. If you want a get in an get out kind of CRM then you want one with ♦ or ♦♦. If you want a CRM that will help you manage as many aspects of your business as possible, then you want one with ♦♦♦♦.

There is another aspect to this. You’ve come into this search for a CRM thinking you know what you want it to do for you. What if you’re wrong? What if you find a nice easy CRM with ♦? If you get used to using a CRM and then realize there are other things that you want it to do, now you have to switch from that one to another one to get those features and you have to start all over again. Try not to be short-sighted in this respect. If you really want to grow your business, serve your clients better, get more referrals and be far more efficient, then you may want a CRM that has more than you currently think you need. Always bear that in mind when selecting a CRM.

Internal Email Client

An email client is the software you use to send and receive email. Common examples are Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc. Internal in this case means that the CRM built their own emailCRM Email Client client and integrated it into the CRM. These are relatively rare in the industry because it is a huge undertaking to develop one. Another reason is because agents often do not use them because they are not as feature rich and also because they simply don’t want to change from what they are used to. There are upsides and downsides to internal email clients. The upside is that you don’t have to go out of the CRM to do any of your email functions and the emails are automatically stored with the history of the contact. This effectively reduces the time it takes you to deal with email, and allows for quicker access to a contact’s email history and once there, you are able to forward and reply right from inside the contact record. I call these actionable emails.

Most CRMs enable you to send emails from within them but do not provide the ability to receive them. More recently, the more robust CRMs have added the ability to interact with other email clients to allow the storage of incoming emails with the contact record. In order for you to do that, you simply have to Forward or BCC the email to a specially coded email address that the CRM vendor provides to you. The upside to this is that you can use any email client. The downside is that the emails stored with the contact are not actionable.

Capable of Building Email Drip Campaigns

This term is used widely to mean different things but the majority of the industry uses it to mean the following so that is what it will mean on this site. A drip campaign is a set of different emails that go out periodically based on the number of days after you start it. A drip campaign is comprised only of emails.

Capable of Building Activity Plans

An activity plan (also called a work flow, task series or campaign) is more powerful than a drip campaign. It is capable of sending out email templates just like a drip campaign, but is also capable of scheduling to-do’s, phone calls, letters, and appointments.

Template emails/plans Included

Template (also known as canned) emails are ones that have already been written for you. They include merge fields to automatically include the contact’s name at the very least. In many cases it enables you to merge many different fields from the contact record and sometimes from many fields throughout the CRM. Template plans are plans that are already created for you, using the template emails, as well as to-do’s, call reminders, and letters. These might include hot buyer prospect follow-up, post closing follow-up, listing plans, closing plans, etc. Most CRMs give you the ability to create your own drip campaigns and activity plans, but most do not include any templates of any kind, or what they do include is minimal, meaning there are simply not very many of them.

Other Terms Used Throughout This Site

API – (Application Programming Interface)

Essentially what this means is that the CRM has created a tool for other parties to use, to integrate the two. This means that they are out there saying “Hey – if you want to wCRM APIork with us, we have created a tool to do it”. One use would be to allow other companies to automatically feed leads to the CRM so it can add them into its database. Other uses would be integrate with a blast email company for back-end analytics or a phone calling utility to auto-dial from within the CRM. The end result is that it as similar to installing Apps to work with the CRM like you install Apps on your phone.

Email Parser

When you get a lead from somewhere online like Zillow, Realtor.com, or your web site, they send you an email with the leads information in it. The body of that email contains the lead’s information such as name, email address, phone number, postal address, etc. Until relatively recently, you had to read the information in the email and copy and paste it into a contact/lead screen in the CRM. When a CRM has an email parser to automatically add new leads, it means it has software that takes the email, scans the text of the email, finds the pertinent contact information, and automatically places it in the appropriate fields into a new lead. I refer to this as auto-population of leads. If you get one lead a week it’s not a big deal. The more online leads you get, the more attractive this feature gets. Another methods for auto-population of leads is for the CRM to have an existing relationship with the lead provider whereby they simply add the new lead in directly through an API. For  a little more depth on this see this post.

How to aggravate someone without even really trying…

Why is it that if you ask someone several questions at once in an email that so often you only get an answer to one or two of the questions?

Is the recipient not reading the whole email? Are they just too busy and don’t pay attention? Or do they simply not care? The last may be the single biggest reason to pay attention!

If you are guilty of this, think about the message you are sending. Do you really want a client or prospect to infer that you are unorganized, too busy, or don’t care?

On a daily basis I send emails with multiple questions. When I do – I usually number them to make it clear that there are multiple questions. Sometimes I will even encourage the person to respond inline. So if there are numbered questions, the answers to the questions should appear immediately below the question and maybe in bold letters or a different color. This is my favorite way to do it. If you answer in one paragraph at the top of the page, not only is it cumbersome for the person who asked the questions, but it is also much more likely that the person answering the questions will forget one or more, or be unclear in the answers.

In many email software programs, to reply inline is easy – you just type your response after the question. In Gmail after you hit reply you look for the little ellipsis (…) at the bottom of the reply screen. If you do not know how to respond inline, you might want to think about learning. If you don’t, another message you could be sending is that you are technologically challenged. Not a good thing in the world of real estate. If you know how and don’t do it – why not? It’s just one more way to set yourself apart from the mooing herd by showing that you are conscientious, focused on their needs and forming your answers so that they are easily read and understood.

It’s not uncommon for me to ask five or six questions, and have to go back and forth with three or four emails to get them all answered. This is an incredible waste of time and when it happens, my opinion of the person answering the questions drops a level with regards to competence and organizational skills. Don’t yours?

If you don’t already do it, consider numbering questions when you ask them, replying inline when you answer them and answering all the questions. Have fun out there!

Why not hire someone to build your own CRM?

This an excerpt from my book – Choosing and Using a CRM.

If you are an experienced agent, when you start working with a buyer you probably tell them in so many words to be aware that there is no perfect house for them. You will get as close as you can you tell them, but even if it seems perfect when you move in, you will always find things you wish it had or did not have.

Some tech savvy agents and brokers have gone through the very considerable expense of time and money to have their own perfect CRM built. After the large initial outlay of both, and the subsequent ongoing bleeding months or years later, the majority end up purchasing an out-of-the-box real estate specific CRM solution. Why? Because once you create it, you need it to continue to evolve and improve. Yes you create it. Think about that for a moment. You may hire someone to code the program, but you are the one who has to tell them in great detail what it is that you want. The programmer writes the code, but you design it to do what you want. It is you who are responsible to tell them in painstaking detail what you need, then correct the misunderstandings, beta test it, and then continue to improve it. That takes an inordinate amount of time. It is a never-ending lowest and worst use of significant blocks of your time.

You also most likely will eventually lose the person who coded/wrote it in the first place, and then you have to find someone who will continue making your changes for you. Consider that software design is as much if not more of an art than it is a science, and each artist has his or her own style. This often results in giving it different feels in different sections of the program, making it less intuitive or easy to learn, and typically more cumbersome than need be.

If you buy one out of the box, the software vendor takes on the job of improving it. It may not be everything you want it to be, but if you find the right one it can be most of what you need it to be. It is also their job to continue to add to it, based on user suggestions and industry changes and needs, as opposed to frequently spending your time doing it. Moreover, when there is a large user base making suggestions, there will be improvements made that may never have occurred to you.

There has been an interesting trend in the RE CRM industry for the last five to seven years. There are actually a significant number of RE CRM developers who were Real Estate agents, albeit for a short time.They originally decided to create their own CRM because they were agents looking for a CRM solution, and were not happy with what was available. At that time there were only a small handful of CRMs available. Something they did not realize though was that there were some others available but they were almost impossible to find in the search engines. Sadly, it is still difficult to find some. One of the best ones on the market cannot be found on Google by searching on real estate CRM software! They are just clueless about Web site SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

So these new agents who had a software background decided they could do a better job. Few of these CRMs have been out more than three or four years, so they have not had enough time to prove themselves yet. It remains to be seen if they were right about being able to do it better, and if they will last. The point is that it is such an overwhelming job, that they chose to make building a CRM their career, as opposed to selling Real Estate.

So if you’re considering having a CRM built for you remember that one of the primary decisions is what you want to be when you grow up – a software developer or a real estate sales person.

IDX versus Auto-population of Leads

I decided to write this because I get many calls from agents requiring the CRM they choose to have IDX integration.

Another way it is often asked for is they want “web site integration”. The vast majority of the time, that’s not what the agent really wants. What they usually want is for the CRM to add new leads automatically, saving them the time of having to key in the information.

IDX (Internet Data Exchange) is the ability for a web site visitor to do an MLS search.

There are a variety of features that come after that but that’s the primary function.

Auto-population of leads is the ability of the CRM to automatically add incoming leads from a variety of sources including web site contact forms directly, or emails containing the lead information.

While there are some CRMs that incorporate IDX solutions into them, they are typically only available in broker level or more sophisticated and expensive CRMs. They’re a time saver because instead of having to go to your web site to see what the prospect is searching for, that information can be contained within the CRM right with the contact’s record.

So the point is that if what you are looking for is a CRM that has the ability to automatically add leads, you don’t need the CRM to have IDX capability, just the ability to take a lead from a web site, lead generation solution, or an email. At this point most of the better CRMs do this. How they do it, and what kind of leads they are capable of adding vary significantly.

A detailed description of each method is fodder for another article, but I’ll summarize the primary ones here.

1) The first method most had was for the CRM to enable you to create a contact form from within the CRM. It then provided  the HTML source code. You then replace your existing web site contact form with the new one. The downside is that many template sites are not capable of allowing you to replace the contact form, or if you do replace it, the follow-up capabilities on the site may be negated.

2) The next method that came into common usage was for  the CRM to have a relationship with the lead provider so they could “talk to each other” and add the lead automatically.

3) The newest method is “Email lead parsing” – the ability for the CRM to receive an email from any lead source, analyze the content of the email and add the information as a new lead. This is probably the best overall because it doesn’t matter where the lead is coming from. All it needs to have is a consistent format. By that I mean it has to label the information by preceding it with a consistent name such as “Name:  John Buyer”.  The vast majority do this. The downside is that if the email is HTML instead of plain text, which the vast majority are not, it can confuse the lead parser utility.

The bottom line is that you can require IDX integration in your CRM, but if what you want is for the lead to be automatically added into your CRM’s database you don’t need IDX. What you want is simply the ability to auto-populate new leads into it.

Busy month! Now affiliated with Tribus CRM!

I was a little behind and am now catching up. I have been wanting to affiliate with several companies for a while now and this is one of them.

Tribus CRM is great for a large team or brokerage. Their target market is for users doin gover $10 million in volume. I’ve spoken at great length with the CEO’s and developers of the vast majority of the Real Estate CRMs on the market. Most of them have someone in the organization who has spent at least some time as a real estate agent. One of the two principals of this one has been a broker/owner with a large office. You can tell. The way this one was developed is clearly from one who understands the business very well from the ground up. There are many features I like about this, but one that was telling was that he addressed the “How do I get my agents to really use this” question. Every broker knows the pain of agent adoption of the solutions they try to implement. This one has an answer built in.

One of the primary reasons I like it is its extreme customizability. If you focus on a niche market like REO’s, Short Sales, Foreclosures, etc., you can easily mold this to your needs. It’s like SalesForce or Propertybase in that respect, but at a lower price, and created from the start for use in real estate.

This product is not cheap, but it’s worth it if you understand ROI. If you want to spend as little as possible, this one is not for you. If you want to make an investment into the future of your production as an agent, or into the company as a broker, this is a bargain.

I do webinars for different organizations around the country on the topic of the latest trends in Real Estate CRM. Tribus is right there on all the points I make in that webinar, and has set a couple new ones I will speak about in the future. They are cutting edge, not bleeding edge, the former being the best way to be.

If you’re a power user of Tribus CRM doing $10 million or more, feel free to leave a comment.