• Auto-sync is an crucial must-have because it syncs all the contact information for your many contacts.
  • If you have situations where you can't get away such as a CE class, auto-responders are paramount in a CRM.
  • If you have a team, having a CRM that can automatically assign transactions will make your life easier, and it will prevent team members from feeling like you favor some over others.

For many, real estate sales success hinges on the growth and development of relationships with one’s contacts. But if you have more than 10-20 contacts, which most of us do, this can be a daunting task. Enter the popular buzzword and acronym: CRM.

CRM typically refers to the software system used for customer/contact relationship management, which helps to automate at least the initial phases of relationship building and keeps you on your toes with follow-up for special business or lifetime events.

Remarkably, there are at least 369 CRM systems available with constant new entrants. So it might seem like you trade one headache (trying to keep up with your contacts) for another (trying to find a good CRM).

But here is an easy rule-of-thumb for any system, whether online, offline, low-tech or high-tech; if it’s something you will use — that’s what makes it good. Despite all of the frills and bells and whistles, if it is unrealistic for you to use daily or revisit the system, then cross it off your list.

Beyond ease of use, I encourage you to identify from the following list your top five requirements for your personal CRM system. This shouldn’t be just what works for “Sally Sales-a-lot” but specifically, for you for you to maximize the CRM’s effectiveness in your lead management and nurturing.

What are your top must-haves from the following criteria?

Until you have a custom CRM built for you, there might not be a perfect solution, but here is a list of qualities to look for that will get you fairly close!

1. Auto-syncs

Out are the days of having to enter the email address, social media usernames, phone number and other contact details manually along with appointments for your leads and SOI (sphere of influence).

Instead of using precious hours doing data entry that could be spent with clients and family or carving out a budget for an admin to input contacts, you can select a CRM that automatically imports contact information.

Many CRMs can automatically sync and integrate with social media to auto import photos, social media profiles, phone numbers and other contact details. If this is a critical feature for you, be sure to see a CRM that integrates with your preferred vendors, which might include Zapier, CloudCMA, your favorite social media sites, your email and calendar provider, Eventbrite, dotloop, Zillow, realtor.com and the like.

Some of the more advanced systems can even match your calendar events (like an open house or a homebuying workshop) with your contacts and help you to see at a quick glance who has and hasn’t been on your radar in a while.

2. Auto-responds

Imagine you are in a three-hour CE course with no sight of a five-minute break to return calls and follow up with inquiries. How do you not lose out on potential leads?

If you are often tied up with long gaps between when you can return phone calls, then a CRM with an auto-responder will be critical for you.

Look for a CRM that offers auto text, email or video messaging. As a perk, some CRMs play well with popular messaging systems you already might be using like BombBomb or MailChimp.

3. Auto-messages

If the CRM sends auto-responses for you, you will want the CRM to contain stock and customizable messaging content options.

Some of the more leading-edge systems will allow you to import content from your firm, trainers, coaches and other news feeds, so you do not have to spend time re-inventing what has already been done well.

As a perk, some CRMs feature multiple languages if you have a diverse customer base.

4. Auto-assigns

If you have a team, then it’s likely non-negotiable that the CRM system can automatically assign transactions and leads to particular team members.

Some of the more advanced programs will even assign leads using a round-robin system, where leads are systematically assigned to team members, which can hopefully eliminate accusations of favoritism or poor lead offerings.

5. Auto-stores

If you are in need of one location to maintain your client records, then you will want a CRM that offers transaction management and storage.

Look for systems that offer a one-page overview or reporting of all of the documents within a transaction. Also, please ensure the CRM has date stamping capabilities. Additionally, make sure there is a way that you can back-up or download all of your online files.

6. Auto-supports
Often, we can tolerate glitches when the system provider is quick to provide a solution. You might want this in your CRM, too.

If quality customer service is high on your list of must-haves, then you should reach out to the CRM’s support team before signing up and see how helpful they are.

Does the support team take several days to respond? Is it perturbed that you have questions? Does it lack a library of videos and other on-demand instructional materials, or is it unknowledgeable?

If the answer was no to any of these, then you will want to pass.

My personal favorite CRMs (I do not get paid to promote any of them so that I can be unbiased) are:

  • WiseAgent: great at integrating other apps at a super affordable price
  • GoConnect: nice for mobile users that disdain other devices
  • Follow-Up Boss: fantastic for those who don’t want too much involvement in setup
  • Streak: ideal for those that want to do everything in Gmail only

How’s your CRM hunt going? I would love to read your thoughts below.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach. Follow her on Google+ and Facebook.

Email Lee Davenport.

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