Your CRM is not just another piece of software you need for your business. It can and should be the hub of your business. That means whatever you get, you need to always bear in mind the two most important CRM factors. The foundation is built on two things – stability and support in a CRM. You don’t want to roll out a new CRM to your staff and have them spend months learning it’s idiosyncrasies only to find out it’s not long for this world. You really want to do your due diligence and give it the attention it deserves.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to predict how likely a company is to succeed in the long term. Since 1987 I have watched over 50 real estate specific CRMs get released. I reviewed every one of them! 19 of them are no longer in business!
You’ll see the ones that have been around for more than a year or two if you do a little searching. You’ll find web sites that review them. There are also plenty of Facebook groups that talk about CRM on occasion so do some searching in there as well. If you don’t see them mentioned anywhere and their web site is hard to find, that’s not a good sign.
I have also been involved at a leadership level with a CRM SAAS organization. I can tell you that stability does not happen overnight. It typically takes at least three years, but there are many variables.
- Do they have a parent company holding them up until they can stand on their own?
- Are they getting funding elsewhere?
- What year did they come out of Beta and start selling?
- How many users do they have?
Most will not tell you how many users they have, especially if they are newer and smaller. If they continue to add new users on a consistent basis that’s a good sign, but you typically have no way of knowing that either. See what they’ll tell you. Ask! If they have a Facebook Community, do you see new people coming in regularly? Is the count in the group going up? Just look for hints at long term health. Are they continuing to add features regularly? Are they fixing things that are not working or broken? What do other users have to say about them? This is not the time you want to do a half baked job of evaluating a tool. Do your homework!
Be very wary of what you hear from other people about the CRM. That’s a whole ‘nuther subject covered in this article. See if you can qualify their opinions. How much of it do they use? What do they use most? What is the most valuable features or features?
When you’re trialing the software, make sure to contact support. Do it multiple times, at different times of the day, for different reasons. If you don’t have any questions, make some up! You want to test their support to make sure they are responsive and capable. Phone support response should be within a maximum of 24 business hours and should be expected in the more established CRMs. If they don’t have any phone support, odds are decent they’re not very far along in the development of their product. Without phone support, there should be live Chat support for those questions you need answered quickly. If their only support is through email, you might want to consider waiting until they expand on that.
They all have to start somewhere and they will not all succeed. Taking your chances with a newer one can lead to the discovery of your all time favorite. I love watching the new ones grow and find their niche. That said, watching them grow versus experiencing the growth pains, is something very different. If you’re willing to take that chance because it has things you want, go for it. If you’re a single agent it could be worth the aggravation while you’re waiting to see if they mature and stabilize. You can afford to do that when you’re a single agent or maybe have one assistant. If you’re a team, maybe not so much. The time it takes to learn and internalize a CRM is significant, so you don’t want to waste all that time with a larger team. Do the homework up front. It will be worth it!
Oh – did I mention that I always put all this kind of information in the reviews on my site when it’s available?