Many real estate agents start out keeping track of their clients using a simple spreadsheet. But if they want to step up their game, they should use a customer relationship management system, according to panelists at Inman Connect.

  • CRMs can help agents nurture their relationships with clients and become their "trusted adviser."

SAN FRANCISCO — Many real estate agents start out keeping track of their clients using a simple spreadsheet.

But if they want to step up their game, they should use a customer relationship management system, according to panelists at the “Client Tracking and Nurturing — CRM Tools for Success” session at Inman Connect today.

“If your spreadsheet is working for you today, that’s great. It will not work for you tomorrow,” Kendyl Young, founder and owner of Los Angeles boutique brokerage Diggs, told conference attendees.

“We are in a space in the industry where amateur hour is over,” she added.

“We’re past the place where four transactions a year” is enough to have a successful career, she said.

A CRM that gets a client “from contact to contract to aftercare to repeat and referral” is “not a magic pill” but it works, she said.

But that doesn’t mean that one-size-fits-all when it comes to CRMs.

When asked what agents and brokers should look for in a CRM, she said, “A CRM they’re going to use.”

“I can answer the question for myself, but I can’t answer for any of you. For myself, I want something where no detail will go undone,” she said.

Shane Farkas, chief technology officer of Los Angeles brokerage The Agency, had a different answer.

“I think client communication is the biggest thing to look for in a CRM,” he said.

The Agency first tried using third-party CRMs, but soon found that it needed a more customized system. So, the firm started building a CRM in-house built on Salesforce infrastructure.

All of the firm’s internal tasks are done via the CRM, including transaction management and marketing. The CRM connects to the brokerage’s website and pulls in leads, keeps track of all the emails the firm sends out, and knows what listings clients are looking at on the site and via email.

“It really is a lead-to-close system,” he said.

Young said her brokerage didn’t have “a bajillion dollars” to do that, so she’s a “serial CRM user.”

She looks for systems that eliminate double data entry and will help her keep track of clients throughout their real estate lifestyle — “all of those things that nurture relationships, so I’m their trusted adviser in this generation and the next.”

In that vein, neither Young nor Farkas were keen on drip email campaigns.

“I don’t have anything nice to say,” Young said, making fun of emails that inform people that “‘the time is going to change next week.”

If you send something to someone that is not relevant at that moment, you could actually damage the “trusted adviser” relationship, Farkas added.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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