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.

IXACT Contact adds two huge features!

IXACT Contact has been coming along very nicely in it’s five years of life. It has continued to add great features over the years and now there are two really significant ones that I’ve been waiting for. I think they are two that you need to have to compete with the big boys, but even more importantly, to be a great CRM. I’ll let their announcement cover it from here.

“With our new Email Correspondence Capture, REALTORS® can now capture all email correspondence with their clients and prospects right into IXACT Contact! No more copying and pasting emails into the contact history or having to type in manual notes!

This new feature will help agents get more organized and free up time. And next time they’re on the phone with a contact, they’ll benefit from the convenience of being able to see all past email correspondence with them. Now, everything they would need to see about a client or prospect is in one consolidated system – IXACT Contact.

With our new Lead Capture via Email, Realtors can now capture all the leads they receive via email automatically into IXACT Contact. Lead Capture via Email is a simple and versatile method for capturing leads from a wide variety of sources, including existing forms built into one’s website and third party lead vendors. In addition, Realtors can set-up their lead capture process to automatically assign new leads to a specific group and auto-responder drip email campaign. They can even have all new leads automatically added to the distribution list for their monthly e-Newsletter.

This new feature saves agents time and helps them become more organized. All of their leads will automatically be flowed to their database – saving them time and letting them view all of their leads in one consolidated place.”

I offer an extended free trial of 60 days if you want to take a look at it – just click here!

What are the sources of your business?

Do you know exactly where all of your business comes from, in detail, such that you can use it to identify your strengths and weaknesses and evaluate your advertising spending?

For the purposes of this article we are talking about non-referral business such as ad calls, sign calls, open house visitors, FSBO’s , Expireds, online leads, affinity groups, etc.

Many agents when asked say they don’t need to track the source because most of their business is from referrals. That’s all well and good except that very few actually have numbers to back that up. Most do not take the time each year to be able to say “I closed 34 sides last year and 22 came from personal referrals”.

22 referrals leaves 12 sides or 35% of the business that came from other sources. The point is to not leave evaluation of your business to your gut. You really want to know exactly where your business is coming from.

In this case, five of your transactions came from print advertising. Seven came from open houses, and none came from floor/opportunity time. You don’t do FSBO’s or Expireds. And you have a Web site but it’s like a billboard in the middle of nowhere. You get nothing from it. That’s a whole nuther topic.

So of the five properties you sold as a result of print advertising, which periodicals did they come from? If you use a CRM that has a Source field, make sure to use the name of the periodical as opposed to just “Print Ad”. That way you can run a report at the end of the year that tells you that all five of the print ad sales came from the same magazine. You’re also paying for ads in two other magazines but you got nothing from them. So do you keep advertising in the other two? Maybe you decide that one of them is worth the visibility, even though there is no return on investment. That’s fine, as long as you now know that’s exactly all you’re getting out of it. And maybe you decide to drop the other one.

You spent 20 hours prepping for and sitting open houses, and made $12,000 from it. Is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. What are your other sources paying you? You spent 150 hours on floor, and you made $0! What’s up with that? Either the quality/quantity of the floor calls are terrible, or you’re just not very good on the phone. So now maybe you should be thinking either you need to start doing some role playing coaching and practice on the phone, or maybe you take some of that time and spend it at open houses.

There are many more questions you could be exploring, but the point is that you would not be asking yourself these questions if you did not have a report showing you exactly where your business is coming from.

So if you can’t produce a list that says how much money you made, and specifically how you made it, then you’re not treating your business like a business. Yes – I’m going to trot out that tired old phrase. How about another one like “working on your business as well as in your business”. Another one that applies is about having a boat without a rudder. No source stats. No rudder. No way to get to the desired destination.

All Real Estate CRMs have a field in which to record the Source where your business came from. Unfortunately, few of them compile that information into a report. Often you just have to list your contacts and add up the sources. Agent Office does it, but that’s a dead product now. They have a report that grouped your sales by the source of the business. A better report would be to have a total $ figure for each source.

A nice simple but very useful report might look a little like this:

Homes & Living

Johnson, Howard & Lisa 123 Main St  $6,540

Horshaw, Jubal 86 W Chronicle Dr.  $4,443

Total     $10,983

Homes & Land

Hall, Darryl & Mary  67 W Darby St  $5,567

Total   $5,567

Grand Total      $16,550

Most CRMs don’t have the ability to generate these reports, or generate good reports because agents  don’t know to ask for it. Over the years I’ve made suggestions like this to the developers when we’ve talked and their response is usually the same. “No one has ever asked for that”. The CRM developers provide what the users ask for. So as people learn to ask for specific features, the vendors start providing them. Ya don’t ask, ya don’t get!

Some examples of Source Report capabilities, or lack thereof, in a few of my favorite CRMs:

Top Producer has a Source field, a Sub Source field and an Other Source field. The Source report however is in the Sales Pipeline portion of the program. There is a Pipeline Status Report.

source report

IXACTCONTACT has an Original Source field, and does have a report. It currently reports all Sources whether you have any business from that Source or not. Better would be if it only displayed sources you had done business from.

WiseAgent – You can list your contacts one source at a time and refine it by date but that’s about it. So you can get the info out, but it’s tedious. When asked, they said the pieces are in place and it’s now on their to-do list.

allClients – You can view a pie chart that shows percentages by date and by source but it’s all sources for all contacts, including none. So it’s not very useful.

So ask and ye may receive.

But even if you have to put it on a spreadsheet, strongly consider doing it. You can’t help but imporove your business when you have a new tool with which to evaluate it.

Recorded CRM Webinar invitation

I am proud to invite you to a recorded Point2 Success Webinar I presented on Tuesday the 12th. The webinar is entitled “Tips to Better Use CRM’s to Generate and Cultivate Leads”.

You can view the recorded webinar by going to the link below. It is approximately 45 minutes in length and followed by participant’s questions.

At the end of the  webinar a link will be provided to a Yardi eLearning tool which is also free with no obligation. In there is a review of six of my favorite CRMs entitled “Comparing CRM Tools to Find the Most Effective One for You”.

I hope you enjoy! It was attended by hundreds, well received, and generated many questions.