The following is a list of functions that a good CRM enables you to do. Many people buy a CRM because they are told they need one, or because they want to get more organized. Often while evaluating a CRM or after purchasing one, they then end up saying that it cost too much for what they need, because it does so much that they do not need. The reality is that the CRM does so much because it is what you need, IF you want to grow your business significantly, while at the same time; having more of a personal life; with less stress for you and your clients; with less mistakes; with better service to your clients; with less staff; with more compliments from everyone you work with; with more referrals. If you want those things, then the CRM does not do too much. It has the features it does in order to accomplish those things.
Note that the title uses both of the terms CRM and Contact Manager. The fact is that the following bullet points can not all be accomplished with a contact manager. The reason for the title is that a significant percentage of agents have either never heard the term CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) at all, or they have heard it but do not know what it means, or they do not understand the difference between a Contact Manager and a CRM. Therefore, if the words Contact Manager are not in the title, they may never find this post!
An example of a Contact Manager is Outlook. Examples of CRM’s are Top Producer, Agent Office, AdvantageXi, Active Agent for Outlook, etc.
It comes down to recognizing what you want to accomplish with a CRM , and then purchasing according to your needs. Following is a list of what you can accomplish with a good CRM. The more of these things you do within your CRM, the more efficient you will be. If you want to do all or much of what is on the list, then you need a CRM as opposed to a Contact Manager.
- Prospecting – Get suspects, turn them into prospects, and turn them into sales, by knowing who they are, what they want, and when they want it, all in significant detail, and by being reminded to capitalize on that information automatically.
- 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.
- Lead source tracking – Knowing where your business is coming from and spending your marketing time and money accordingly/wisely.
- Referral tracking – Knowing who is referring you the most business, so you know who to do more for in return.
- Contact management – That means everyone! Suspects; prospects; clients; vendors; friends; relatives; neighbors. Knowing how to find any information on anyone, even from many years ago, with a few clicks virtually instantly.
- Mail merge – Do all print or e-mail merging from within the CRM eliminating redundant external databases.
- E-mail management – How many e-mails are in your inbox? They should be with your contacts, or with the property, where you can find them, quickly, not in your inbox.
- Document management – Store all documents and photographs relevant to a transaction with the transaction record and/or the contact record. Having a complete paper trail all in one location is invaluable if you are challenged.
- Appointment management – The ability to not only track when and where you had an appointment with someone, but also the ability to note the substance of that appointment.
- 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, automatically.
- Closing coordination – Too many details can fall through the cracks. The busier you get, the more details you have swimming around in your head. And each day you have to make many decisions regarding what actions you need to take for which transactions. Even the best paper list and file methods are rife with bottlenecks and inconsistencies. Having all the information you need in one place and a to-do list automatically posted on your calendar makes your job far easier and more stress free.
- Communications documentation – Also known as History, there is a place where it all comes together. Tasks, phone calls, e-mails, letters, post cards, fliers, and appointments. A contiguous record of everything that has happened with that contact or transaction.
- Time management – Having automated to-do lists, and organized methods of consistent follow-up. Decide what you want to do, once, and automatically follow up that way every time from then on.
- 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 can not be overemphasized how important it is to have a contiguous chronological accounting of any contact 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 much better position from which to defend yourself if need be.
- Post closing follow-up/client retention – Not staying in touch with past clients is one of the single biggest causes of loss of income in the Real Estate sales industry. Never lose another referral due to your failure to stay in touch.
- 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 none of the details are lost in the transition. Additionally, it provides a clear picture of exactly who is doing what each day with regards to each individuals responsibilities.
If this list has you interested, it is likely that you are ready for a comprehensive CRM solution. Just realize that the dollar investment in the CRM is the easy part. The time investment is the tough part. But the rewards are more than you can appreciate until you get there.