Simply plugging in a CRM (customer relationship management) software isn’t going to turn you into a networking powerhouse overnight. But if you invest a little time and effort, your CRM will give you an edge over your competitors. A strategic approach can:
- Strengthen your marketing efforts
- Help you be more efficient with your time
- Cultivate relationships in your network
- Track important information about your contacts
There’s a strong need to help more agents and brokers utilize their CRM tool to get more referrals, more contacts and more RFPs (requests for proposals).
Do you want to succeed at real estate?
This article is for any real estate professional who appreciates technology, loves networking and understands the importance of marketing.
If you want to succeed at real estate, time management is critical. Leveraging your time more effectively frees you up to meet more people and expand your network.
Because the overwhelming majority of your sales will come from the referrals in your network, your success is largely contingent on the strength of your relationships within your network.
We can advertise until the cows come home, but if people don’t know and trust us, we won’t sell homes. The purchase of a home is the biggest financial commitment anyone will ever make.
How is a bench ad, flyer or a pop-up on a mobile phone going to persuade people that you are the right person to guide them through the pitfalls and financial complexities of homeownership?
With that said, let’s dive in and talk about another solution — CRMs, their role, functions and how best to use one!
Which CRM should I use?
If you don’t already use a CRM, you may be overwhelmed with the choices available. If you do have one, you might even be thinking about upgrading to a premium version. There are so many different CRMs, and you can easily get caught up investing in the wrong one for your business.
Heck, even marketing professionals and large enterprises get caught up in acquiring tools they don’t really know how to use or don’t actually need. I’ve made this mistake myself, and I paid the price for it.
Remember that what’s right for someone else may not be right for you.
The best CRM is the one that you use
Pick the CRM that you are most comfortable learning and using on a daily basis.
The more user-friendly the interface, the quicker it will be for you to get up and running. Powerful, top-tier CRMs require expertise and money to invest in resources and maintenance. Whatever you decide to go with, the fundamental features you should be looking for are:
- Customizable: Can the features and tools be customized for your personal preferences?
- Customer support: Is there a reliable tech support available, tutorials and other resources to help me quickly address technical issues with my setup or functionality? Pay attention to the hours of operation if there is a customer service line because not all are open 24 hours.
- Technical level of expertise: How long will it take to learn the CRM? Is it designed for novices or SEO professionals? Does it have a user-friendly, intuitive interface that you can understand?
- Integrates with other tools: Email, Google Docs, Hootsuite, Mailchimp, etc.
Don’t settle on any CRM tool that doesn’t include these basic features!
What is a CRM?
The purpose of a CRM is to help you build and manage stronger relationships with the people you know and those you would like to get to know.
Every individual in your network represents a potential client who may need your real estate expertise someday. You will get their business based on the strength of your relationship.
If your relationship with your prospects has been cultivated through meaningful exchanges that add value, you’ll be their first choice when they’re ready to buy or sell a home.
The most critical function of your CRM tool is marketing intelligence. The more information you have about the people in your database, the easier it will be to segment your database later, which will become really, really important.
Why is market data important?
I’m a firm believer in the idea that science drives success. By science, I simply mean a logical, methodical approach to problem-solving that’s based on objective observations rather than your gut feelings.
Intuition plays an important role in business too, but successful businesses from Silicon Valley to Wall Street are successful because they make informed decisions. Those decisions are based on objective data or marketing intelligence about consumers, their needs, fears and aspirations.
I challenge you to ask yourself: How much do you really know about the people in your network?
If you don’t learn about them and keep track of what you learn, you’ll be basing your decisions on misconceptions. You’ll overlook opportunities that are right under your nose, and you won’t be able to offer anyone in your network value when they’re not looking for a home.
What information should I be tracking in my CRM?
Most of us are great at getting the basic information from prospects: name, email and a contact number. But there is so much more information that would give you deeper insights into how best to serve the people in your network, such as:
- Marital status
- Income – estimate if necessary
- Desired property type (condo, waterfront, semi-detached, bungalow, etc.)
- Desired square footage
- Price range
- Relationship strength (how long have you known them?)
These are just a few examples. Think of as many relevant details as you can, and don’t overlook anything as being trivial. Take note of when and how you met them, their favorite color, pet — anything that can help you to build a more meaningful relationship.
While everyone else is sending them generic content, you’ll be able to personalize your communications and build rapport.
When you demonstrate that you remember the details about the people in your network, you’ll build their trust and stand out head-and-shoulders from every other business competing for their attention.
How do I get data for my CRM?
Grilling prospects with questions would be awkward, unless it was relevant. If you offer an item of value, however, you’ll find that prospects will open up to you more quickly.
The key to getting this information is interviewing your prospects. Prospect interviewing allows you to engage with clients in a meaningful conversation that adds value to them.
Your interview isn’t just an opportunity to socialize, it’s a tool you can use to promote your prospects and their interests or goals online.
Post your interview on your blog or website, and share it on social media to help promote your prospects.
Who doesn’t appreciate free promotion? When you demonstrate interest in their goals, your prospects will respond favorably to you by joining your email list and promoting you in return.
Where do I find prospects to interview?
Anyone who would benefit from credible, online exposure, anyone seeking reviews and testimonials to validate their business and generate more business, will respond favorably to your interview request.
You can find a ton of prospects outside of your familiar circles by checking out these resources:
- Online business directories and listings
- Review sites (Yelp)
- E-commerce platforms (Groupon, Amazon)
- Classified advertising websites (Craigslist, Kijiji)
- Health and beauty professionals (hairstylists, personal trainers, nail salons, chiropractors, etc.)
- Chambers of commerce
- Local meet-up groups (parent groups, food groups, reading groups, etc.)
Remember when I mentioned earlier that you’ll need to segment your contacts later?
Segmenting your database will allow you to be more strategic with your marketing. It involves indexing and grouping your contacts based on common factors and specific criteria you choose.
Think of it this way: When you go to a bookstore, the books are organized by subject and category to make it easier for you to find what you want.
Segmenting your CRM database will make it easy for you to send personable, automated emails to people across your entire database in a strategic way that yields higher conversion.
So instead of sending generic messages about new listings to your entire database, you can send more specific, relevant information to the right segment of your database.
You’ll be able to track what’s of interest to your prospects individually, or as a group, and provide them with content that speaks directly to their needs.
Some of your contacts will want exposure for their business. Others will want housing market data. A few will be looking for advice, tips or helpful suggestions about mortgages, home renovation or other real estate topics.
The point is, you’ll be able to send your prospects content that’s most relevant to their needs, which will earn you high points.
I highly recommend “How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits” by author Judy Robinett who explains how she manages her network and tracks it.
She segments people by ecosystem (real estate, wealth advisers, family, educators, politics, non-profit, community leaders, media, business and finance, creatives) so she can create unique marketing campaigns for each group.
Key tools to integrate with your CRM
Using your CRM tool with other software will improve your time management tremendously. You’ll need to export data from your CRM to documents and other integrated software such as:
- Email application: Export email contacts to your CRM (Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.)
- Google Sheets: Can easily be integrated with your CRM, and it’s easy to learn
- Google Analytics: To track the results of email campaigns, blog traffic, etc.
- Email manager: To implement marketing automation and build your database (MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Pardot, etc.)
- Social management software: To schedule posts and track social media activity (HootSuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck, etc.)
So there it is! Remember, a CRM is a tool for managing contacts, cultivating relationships and strategic communication.
It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Keep these three key points in mind, and you’ll become the most trusted realty expert in your target region:
- Choose the CRM tool that will require the least amount of learning curve, while offering the greatest flexibility and support for your budget.
- Once you’ve acquired your CRM, segment your database of contacts into groups or ecosystems. Integrate other tools to help you craft better marketing campaigns and monitor your network.
- Lastly, conduct interviews consistently, and promote them on your website or blog to provide exposure for your prospects. In turn for your interest and support, your prospects will gladly provide you with personal details that will help you market more effectively, boost your conversion and win more clients!
Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of Parkbench.com and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter@GrantFSofficial.