If you’ve never seen the acronym before, SAAS stands for Software As A System. More commonly people tend to call it Cloud Based or Web Based. It essentially means that the software and the data are on the CRM’s server instead of your computer. The alternative is installing the software on your computer. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
SAAS CRMs have their advantages as do desktop applications. The latter though, is fighting a losing battle. Regardless of which one is better, the death of the real estate specific desktop CRM applications is inescapable. They simply can not make enough money to improve the product and support it. A one time fee based CRM with annual payments for upgrades or support works just fine for many software programs such as Quickbooks. Why can’t it work for us? The size of the market. Quickbooks sells what, hundreds of thousands? Millions? The market for real estate CRM solutions is probably around 2-400,000 agents. And there are well over 30 Real Estate CRMs vying for that market with new ones coming out all of the time. I’ve now watched 15 of them go out of business.
Perception – With SAAS you never have to worry about your data being lost because they have it backed up.
Reality – If you’ve ever lost all your data you know what it feels like. It’s bad. It’s really bad. What most don’t realize is that that advantage varies from one CRM to another. Some can restore you back to various points such as 24 hours prior. Some in shorter intervals. But what they can’t do is reverse a mistake you made such as deleting 100 contacts by mistake. They can take you back to a previous version of your data but anything you did in the interim will be lost. This is what the SAAS CRMs don’t tell you when they laud that advantage of their web based CRM and denounce the desktop CRM as poor in that respect. That said, it’s still typically vastly superior to having a desktop installation because the majority of agents are very poor about backing up their CRM. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to help someone recover who was not backed up.
Perception – Web based CRM is slower than desktop applications.
Reality – That used to be true but for most SAAS CRMs it is no longer an issue most of the time.
Perception – SAAS CRMs are more expensive than desktop applications.
Reality – This is true in the long term more often than not. With desktop applications, if you purchase support and upgrades regularly, then the cost difference is either not there or it is not much. But most agents with desktop applications do not get the ongoing support and updates, which is clearly less expensive especially in the long term.
One of the bigger advantages of SAAS software is that when they make a change, it works the same on all computers because the software doesn’t run on the computer, it runs in the browser. With desktop applications, every single person using it is different. They have different operating systems, different hardware versions, and many different other software programs running on the computer. All of these can potentially cause a problem unique to that person and that computer. And each problem can require a unique fix. This causes a much bigger strain on the support systems the CRM has in place. The only issue SAAS has to deal with is the different browsers and their versions. This is by no means no small feat, but it much easier than the issues on desktop installations.
Long story short – I know – too late. SAAS for Real Estate CRM is here to stay and desktop applications are on their way, out. There are more issues to talk about in this context but these are the bigger ones. Hope this helps!