Whether you don’t have customer relationship management, aren’t using it or want to get more out of it, here is a quick and effective method for compiling a solid list of contacts — plus a few tips on expanding on your sphere of influence.

If you follow me on Inman, you know that I like to write articles on real-life experiences — which is why my column can seem all over the place. Articles like, “How to use infographics in your marketing,” “Agent extinction is not inevitable – if you’re on top of your game,” and “Goodbye Climb, a unique brokerage lost to a cookie-cutter industry,” have been a huge hit. And, I hope that writing about my day-to-day will help other agents gain something valuable.

This week, I want to dive into customer relationship management (CRM). Perhaps you’re an agent who doesn’t have a sphere of influence yet or a seasoned broker looking for a database that really works. Then, this article is for you. Today, I’ll talk about how to get started, but first, I want to share some background data. 

My brokerage searched long and hard for a platform that would work for us, and after exhaustive research, we landed on MoxiWorks. MoxiWorks is an amazing platform that helps you keep track of your clients. If you don’t have a CRM, or work at a brokerage that provides one you don’t love, it might be time to think about switching. 

A CRM that really works

At The Address, we use MoxiWorks — and I love it. The agents who use it love it, too. What sets MoxiWorks apart from your average CRM is that it offers a program called MoxiInsights that helps you build your database and turn it into something much deeper than a name on a spreadsheet. It helps you learn more about your sphere of influence (SOI).

So many new and experienced agents find it challenging to get their names into a CRM. For some reason, it’s a mental roadblock and the albatross around their necks. What’s worse, they don’t realize how much it’s holding them back, the financial impact it has and how simple it is to create. 

Why an effective CRM is important

Christopher Gunn with MoxiWorks recently spoke at our office. During the meeting, we learned about Dunbar’s Number Theory. According to the Dunbar’s Number theory, “the human brain can only hold about 150 names and faces as primary contacts. MoxiWorks allows you to maximize more of your contacts and use the platform to streamline the way you interact with leads, clients and colleagues. It is a major part of our infrastructure and something we love learning more about.”

How to easily organize your contacts prior to importing into a CRM

This fueled my desire to come up with a quick and effective way for agents to compile lists of their contacts. I recently sat down with one of the agents at my brokerage. Over dinner, we built a list of 75 people consisting of solid contacts and a few current prospects. Then, we broke these contacts into four categories: A, B, C and prospects. This was a good start, but we needed to take it further. So, we made a list to tally the average number of the following:

  • Followers and following on Instagram (including those who follow your story) 
  • Connections on LinkedIn
  • Friends on Facebook
  • Phone contacts
  • Recent text message conversations
  • Email contacts
  • Snapchat and so on

Next, we divided a piece of paper into the four sections A, B, C and prospects. We used different colored pens to signify the different ways we identified the contact. This method can be set up in a variety of ways, with “A contacts” being the VIPs, like current and former clients. “B contacts” could consist of colleagues, family and friends. “C contacts” could include distant social media contacts, and finally “Prospects,” who are the outliers. Once you have this system in place, it starts to get really easy — and fun — to organize!

Tips for compiling your contacts

When it comes to Instagram, unless you’re an influencer, start with the people following you — people you really know. For us, we were looking for 10 percent, and in this instance, it was 35 people. Next, we looked at the people the agent was following. There was a lot of overlap, but we found a few new potential prospects.

As for text messages, we went a couple months back. It was amazing how so many of the people we added were also connections on Instagram.

Also, ask yourself about holiday cards and who you would send one to. Group A, B, C or prospects? If you had a client party and rented out a movie theater for 50 guests, who would you invite? Holiday pictures from your family — who would get one? Come fall, who would you deliver a bag of Halloween candy or a pumpkin to?

As you can see from this example, the exercise can keep going. We ended up color-coding the names so we knew where the contact was on the totem pole. That helped us organize when to reach out or follow up.

We marked down who the agent met at open houses. We earmarked those as prospects to start a conversation with again, whether through social media, text or call. Once you have your list of contacts, the CRM can be a great tool to help you ask what a buyer is looking for, set meetings and more.

In the digital world we live in, this is a great exercise that we should all do on a regular basis. Ask yourself the right questions, and funnel your contacts into those categories. It doesn’t have to be intimidating, and you don’t have to do it all at once. The hardest part is taking that first step in the process. No one gets to the top of the mountain without taking the necessary steps. 

Once you have the list, the CRM does nearly all the work for you, and you can easily plug in new contacts as you go. 

How to generate more contacts for your CRM

There’s another layer to this scenario, and that’s the importance of securing contact information in the first place. This is a major hurdle for some. However, the process can be mastered — with the right strategies, of course.

Do you want to gather more contacts at your next open house? Here are some ideas:

  • Always encourage guests to sign in (for safety reasons).
  • Conduct a giveaway for an iPad or tickets to an event. For entry, ask for an email address, phone number and mailing address. People love freebies! (An example of a giveaway challenge would be guessing the correct sales price of a home.)
  • Offer a free home valuation.

Take advantage of those school events or charity balls, and strike up a conversation with people you recognize or see on a regular basis. Tell them you would like to connect on social media to stay in the loop. Offer up your business card, or ask them for theirs, and find out what they do for a living.

All of the above can generate a lead by simply being friendly. As Theodore Roosevelt once said: “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Looking for other ideas? 

  • Use LinkedIn to generate new contacts.
  • Sign up for Meetup or groups with common interests, and make acquaintances.
  • Be bold. Go to your local coffee shop, and buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Make a new friend.
  • Visit new business owners or people running local shops. The contacts are out there, you just need to venture out and find them.
  • Contact family law and probate attorneys, handymen, painters, mortgage professionals, builders and investors (build your pipeline for referrals). Build a list of people you trust and who trust you in return. When a client needs a service, you’ll be able to provide a reliable name.

CRM for life

CRMs aren’t only for clients. They can be a great way to show appreciation for all the important people in your life too, both inside and outside of real estate. Be sure to read my post on the three ways to use your CRM to appreciate agents. 

The bottom line? If you don’t have an effective CRM, you are giving away money to your competition.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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