Choosing the Most Effective CRM for Real Estate Professionals
If you’re in real estate you know how important every contact, lead, client and relationship is to your success and the only way to keep track of them all is with a very effective real estate CRM. This in depth article will explain what real estate agents should look for in a CRM.
What is a CRM?
A CRM is a Customer Relationship Management system, a software program that helps you run your business. A CRM is particularly helpful for sales professionals who are constantly chasing down leads. If you’re in real estate, your CRM will be involved in all aspects of your business. You can set it up to track and manage leads, schedule reminders, send out drip campaigns, book and manage showings and other appointments, upload contracts and so much more.
Beyond all these features, the purpose of any CRM is to increase productivity and ultimately profits, and some do this better than others.
What’s the Point of Using a CRM to Track Your Leads?
The benefits we mentioned above are only the basics. With a highly effective real estate CRM, you will enjoy so many more, as follows:
With the right CRM you will be better organized than you’ve ever been, which will save you loads of time and avoid lots of headaches. Think of how often you’ve asked someone to follow-up with a letter, call a client or set an appointment, only to find out later that they totally forgot or took way too long getting it done? With the right CRM, those days are behind you. With everything kept in one location, you can consistently stay on top of it all. The minute you need something, you go into your CRM and retrieve it yourself.
When you’re consistently using your CRM, you can more effectively nurture leads.
To close warm or even cold leads, it’s important that you send potential clients the right message at the right time. There is no better way to accomplish this than through a lead nurturing system.
The right CRM will allow you to divide your list into segments according to which stage of the buying cycle the homebuyers are in. Each segment will get a specific message that aligns with their needs. Rather than sending the same message to everyone on your list, your messages will be customized to fit where your lead is in the buying cycle. When you send a personalized message, it makes a far better impression than some spammy email. Your prospects will notice that you’re going the extra mile to help them. And this will improve your chances of turning them into clients.
But none of this will happen if you don’t develop customized drip campaigns, a very important feature that all great CRMs come with.
Well-crafted customized drip campaigns are the key to garnering new clients and keeping them.
As discussed earlier, a good real estate CRM is essential if you want to nurture every single lead. Remember, you will set up your CRM to send out separate customized drip campaigns. Each segment of your list will receive the appropriate messages.
You can’t accomplish this with an Excel spreadsheet or a bunch of business cards. The right real estate CRM will be automated while giving you the ability to customize your messages. The last thing you want is for your prospects to feel like they’re getting spammed by you.
The Best RE CRMs Help Agents Handle Each Stage of the Client Lifecycle
Real estate professionals need to effectively manage each stage of the client lifecycle if they want to consistently close deals and grow their business. A great real estate CRM will help you manage it all:
Effective Lead Management
Your CRM can easily help you manage all your leads, but you should not make the mistake of managing them all the same. Each prospect requires a specific level of attention.
Nurturing Third-Party Website Leads
Let’s discuss the best ways of handling leads gathered from third-party websites (portals) like Realtor.com, Homes.com and Zillow.com.
For best results you need to reach out to third-party website leads immediately. Prospects from third-party websites are typically browsing multiple listings and will probably only contact an agent when they come across a property that they find interesting. These prospects usually have a very short buying cycle, so you can’t waste any time. Also, prospects in this category are more apt to schedule a showing with the first Realtor that reaches out to them.
But, under normal circumstances you may be way too busy to respond immediately to every single one of these third-party leads. This is why you need a great CRM. You’ll just set up your CRM to send out an auto-responder message each time someone fills in a form to you on one of these third-party websites. In some CRMs an auto responder is triggerd if a lead views a home a certain number a times. Here is a sample text that was sent to a lead:
You can configure these automatic messages to fit inquiries on specific properties. This way the prospect receives an immediate response, which buys you a little time to personally get in contact with them. Your message should thank them for contacting you and include a call to action about setting up a time to speak or to schedule a showing.
Because these third-party leads tend to be expensive, it’s vital that you respond right away with an immediate follow up. A text message would be perfect.
Nurturing IDX Registration Leads
IDX registration leads do not have the same level of urgency that leads from third-party websites do. These prospects are not really ready to make an offer on anything. They are just beginning to check out the real estate market. But it makes no sense to delay reaching out until they’re ready to make a move. You would instead nurture these leads by communicating with them until they become clients.
For this to work, you need to set up an effective system based on a well thought out strategy.
In developing your game plan, keep these two things in mind:
1. Give these relationships time. Don’t start bombarding these prospects with offers to schedule showings. To nurture each relationship, figure out ways that would help them more effectively browse homes.
2. You’ll need to prove your value before you’ll be able to gain their trust. This will take time. Think about what you could offer them for free because you’ll need to make an impression before suggesting that you take them out for a showing.
The good news is that you can accomplish these things by sending the right follow-up messages. Here are some examples of follow-up messages you might send:
“Hi [First Name],
Having looked at the homes you’ve previously searched, I found a few others you might like. If one or two of these are of interest, please reach out so we can discuss.”
“Hey [First Name],
I just wanted to touch base to let you know that several homes that might be of interest to you are holding open houses over the weekend. These are the ones I think you might want to see, based on your most recent online searches. If you want further information on exact dates and times, shoot me an email or click on the link below.”
(Do not forget your call to action in the last sentence, shown above.)
“Hey [First Name],
I’m just checking in with you to see if the listings I’ve been sending over are homes you’d actually like hearing about. If so, no reply needed. I’ll just keep my eye out for more homes like these and send over the listings.
On the other hand, if I’m sending you the wrong types of properties, please let me know so that I can regroup.”
Prioritizing Your Time is Essential
Yes, it’s great to have your follow ups all organized and ready to go out. But you must be smart about this because not everyone requires an immediate follow up. Your follow ups should be prioritized according to your buyer’s price range and how often they’re on your site.
If a buyer in the $1 million range contacts you at most once a month and you have two other prospects looking for homes in the $600,000 range who are emailing you several times a week, these last two are where you need to focus your time and energy. Stay in touch with your other buyer though because at some point they may want more help.
The main advantage of getting IDX registration leads is that you can capture prospects before they start browsing the large real estate websites. This is a huge advantage, so it’s very important that you engage with these buyers right away and keep the lines of communication open. This is what you’ll use your CRM for, nurturing those leads.
Buyers Often Become Sellers Who Need Nurturing Too
Buyers very often open escrow on their next home before listing their existing home for sale. Keep that in mind because you’re going to want that listing. These types of leads tend to pop up at the very beginning of the sales cycle and a lot of these prospects are “just curious” at this point. With these leads you’ll want to approach them in much the same way as your do your IDX registration leads by demonstrating your value, offering free advice, staying in touch and being patient.
This is how to nurture those leads:
Offer A Free Instant Home Valuation:
Regularly Send Market Updates
Pull together a competitive market analysis (CMA) to send out to prospective sellers and send them regular market updates as well. The point being that they will need an idea of the true market value of their property so that when they’re ready to sell, they should be willing to price it realistically since they’ll be familiar with the comps in their area.
Ask Relevant Questions
Another way of approaching this is to question your sellers a little about their house. One question might be, “What is it about this house that grabbed your attention in the first place and got you to buy it?”
When you do this, the lines of communication are opened up and it doesn’t seem like you’re pushing to get the listing. Plus, the more details you know about the house, the better prepared you will be to sell it when you finally do get the listing.
Keep Your Sellers Updated & Informed
Aside from the market updates you’re sending, you might want to let your sellers know of any market changes that could affect them, one way or another. The more you show them that you’re in their corner looking out for their best interests, the more apt they will be to hand you the listing.
Keep updating your sellers, but without becoming an annoyance. There is no need to update them on things that are just trivial. Only send the kind of information that will directly impact them.
Stay Engaged with Potential Buyers
There may a time when you show a home to a potential buyer and it’s not exactly what they’re looking for, so you tell them you’ll keep looking. But you don’t. A month down the road you realize that you never followed up. You beat yourself up mentally because you’re sure they’ve found something by now and that you’d totally blown that opportunity.
Well, you may have cost yourself a commission that time, but you can make sure that never happens again by setting up reminders on your CRM.
All you do is tag your buyers according to how often you think you should follow up with them. When the set time is up, you’ll get a reminder that it’s time to touch base with them again.
A good real estate CRM will also allow you to add the specific action it’s time to take with this buyer so when you get that reminder, you’ll know what you need to do. It could be a phone call, sending them a market update or whatever will move the process along.
But what can you do when a client doesn’t respond and seemingly goes cold on you?
Touch Base with Current & Past Clients
A well thought out CRM should be able to send regular and automated emails to clients based on where they are at in their home searching stage.
Clients you’ve worked with in the past can be a gold mine when it comes to drumming up new business. Many agents get so consumed with what’s happening today that they forget about past clients. Stay in touch with past clients. These are your most valuable clients, so you need to keep them in mind. Past clients are a great source of referrals and will most likely use you for any future real estate transactions.
So, make sure that you take the time to stay in touch with past clients and personalize all messages you’re sending them.
If you’re not yet fully sold about taking the time to re-engage with former clients, consider a real estate group that was able to create a $90 million business by staying engaged with an existing client base consisting of 280 contacts. The key is to make time to touch base from time to time with personalized content and messages. Do this on a consistent basis and you will see a huge increase in repeat business.
Too Many CRMs Choose From
Well if there’s one thing we know by now it’s that you need a great CRM to manage your leads if you hope to succeed in real estate. But, there’s a slight problem, there’s just too many to choose from. How is anyone supposed to know which one would be the best? The last thing you want to do is waste your hard-earned money on a CRM you never use!
So, the question is should you buy the less expensive one even if it’s hard to navigate? Or shell out a lot more money for a CRM with every imaginable feature? The best CRM? The Real Estate CRM that you’ll use!
Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM
Like most products, every CRM has its pros and cons. The one that works best for you may not be the same one your fellow agent uses.
Here’s what you need to ask yourself so that you can choose the system that’ll work best for you:
- What personal goals have you set for yourself? Realtors often chase a dream based on another agent’s success story and then can’t figure out why they aren’t enjoying the same success. Your career is supposed to provide you with enough income to enjoy your life. What’s it going to take? Do you want to live a nice comfortable life? Or, do you want to be #1 in your region? When are you happiest? Working or spending time with your family and friends?
- How automated do you really need to be? How you answered the first question will largely determine your answer here. There are highly advanced CRMs with tools that can automate absolutely everything. Many agents spend way too much on these types of systems when their business first starts picking up steam,
- What do you need in a CRM based on the current state of your business? For example, if you primarily spend your time working your sphere of influence (SOI) along with past clients, all you need might be a basic tool that will automate your drip campaigns and mailers.
- What will you need moving forward based on your long-term goals? If you’re now at the point in your real estate career that you can pay to advertise online and build a team, you may want to invest in a more advanced CRM. You can find systems that do elaborate tracking, provide data on lead sources and do reports on team member productivity.
- The best CRMs can free up an hour or more of your time every day, while providing the tools needed to take your business to the next level. That might involve paying for online pay-per-click (PPC) ads, organizing your drip campaigns or adding an assistant to the team,
- Do you like the lead management system you’re currently using? If you’re not taking advantage of all the features on your CRM, odds are that it’s too difficult and cumbersome to use on a daily basis. Life’s too short to struggle trying to use a system that’s not really user friendly. Great CRMs are intuitive so it’s easy to follow up with clients, past and present, and to keep everything updated without having to figure things out all the time.
Getting the Best CRM at the Right Price
Once you’ve determined what your life and business priorities are, you can begin weighing which CRM features are needed to get you there. As mentioned earlier, you can find CRMs out there with the tools to help you in every aspect of your business. We’re not here to make recommendations or compare prices, but we do want to help you get your head around the basics.
Your Three Basic Choices
If you just got your license, there are several inexpensive CRMs that will help you organize and track your leads. You can easily find one for less than $100 a year that comes with a six-month free trial.
These are the tools you need in the beginning to help you build a database. Down the road you’ll be able to spend the money on a CRM with a great user interface. But for the moment, you just need one that can help you with the basics and is easy to use.
Keep in mind that not all CRMs adapt well to the real estate business. Many agents start with a well-known general CRM. It might even be the most affordable and perhaps they’re already familiar with it. This is perfectly understandable when you’re just beginning. But, as you start getting referrals, this CRM may not be able to keep up with all the required tasks of a solo agent.
CRMs for Solo Agents
If you’re doing the following:
- Hitting your sending limit each month
- Thinking of bringing on an assistant
- Spending very little time with your family
The time has come for you to upgrade your CRM. At this point in your career, it’s time to swap out your rookie system for an authentic real estate CRM that can handle all the important tasks and allow you to plug in new team members as you build your business.
When you have a dedicated real estate CRM it will save you a ton of time because it will take care of all lead generation and capture tasks, automate actual real estate drip campaigns, handle advanced SOI marketing, send updates and more. Know that certain CRMs are also lead generation tools, but that’s in a whole other realm. CRMs that also generate leads are going to cost more, but if you diligently follow up and provide value to all the leads being generated, you won’t have a problem earning your investment back.
CRMs Designed for Teams
When you become a team leader, the issues you deal with are completely different than what you dealt with as a beginner. When you’re at a point in your career when you have far more work than one person can handle, it’s time to build a team. And, when you provide your team with all the tools they need, they will surprise you by how much they get done. This is no time to be juggling between systems and putting productivity and leads at risk.
Real estate CRMs designed for teams allow you to organize all leads, no matter where they came from, in one convenient place. From there they get automatically distributed out to agents. CRMs like Follow Up Boss are equipped with features that manage transactions and report deals. Features like these are important because you need to know which team members are making or losing you money.
When you’ve reached this level, you’ve got to keep your team focused. You don’t need a CRM with a million different ways of performing one simple task. You are now way too busy growing your business to put up with this nonsense. You and the team need to be using technology that’s intuitive and user-friendly.
After discussing the various types of CRMs on the market and what the best ones can help you get done, you’re now ready to seriously begin your search! Here’s a checklist of some important features that you would definitely want to consider when choosing your CRM:
One Central System vs. Multiple Systems
When you’re a beginner, you’ll be fine using multiple systems, one for your drip campaigns and another for tracking leads. But when you start to really pick up steam, you’ll need a central CRM with features that can support all aspects of your growing business, including:
- Each stage of the lead cycle
- Hottest leads
- Reminders to follow up
- Automated drip campaigns
- Team reporting
- Deal reporting
- Built-in dialer
- Sending emails
- Sending text messages
Look for a CRM with an open application programming interface (API) that can be integrated into your other systems to pull in every one of your leads and ensure they’ll all be nurtured.
Automation & Personalization
Automation is essential, but you will want the flexibility to handle things personally when needed since that can make all the difference in the world in some situations. Does the CRM you’re considering give you this flexibility? Find out which integrations are available. If tools like Zapier are available, most CRMs can give you the degree of automation you need. But you don’t want to overdo it. The last thing you want is to be sending out emails that read like they came from a template.
Must be User Friendly
The importance of a CRM being user friendly cannot be overstated. This is even more important for teams. You and everyone on the team need to feel confident about using the CRM, otherwise people won’t use it and deals will be lost. Inspect the CRM’s website for instructions with screenshots and ample demo videos. How easily can you understand everything? Once you narrow down your choices to just 2 or 3, arrange for a demo so that you can get answers to all your questions and make sure you’re completely comfortable using it The CRM you choose should work perfectly on both iPhone and Android devices.
Excellent Customer Support
With any technology there’s going to be a learning curve. Use your free trial to test out the CRM as well as the level of customer support you get with it. It’s going to take some time for you and your team to be fully up to speed on the new CRM. It’s up to you to ensure that everyone involved can quickly reach customer support for the help they need when they need it.
Reporting & Analytics
As your business continues to grow, it gets easier and easier for leads, opportunities, and commissions to simply fall through the cracks.
You need to find a CRM with airtight tracking and reporting so that your lead management system can keep track of every single lead and your agents can be held accountable for the leads they get.
How you get the most for your money will depend on where you stand in your business. You need to determine what the best fit for you would be at the present time as well as for the next couple of years.
A low-cost or even free Rookie CRM will work perfectly fine for those just starting out. But when you’ve reached the point where you’ve got multiple properties in escrow each month, it’s time to upgrade. You should now consider spending money on a Solo Agent or possibly a Team CRM.
To allow team members to call various leads you’re getting from your MLS, lead sources from the Internet, FSBOs, expired listings and more, you would definitely save money by having one central CRM manage your leads and do the dialing. To get a realistic picture of value for money, look objectively at the cost and evaluate that against the time pressures of your business. Will this CRM save you enough time that it’s worth the cost?
Note: Look for transparency in CRM pricing. If you cannot find the price on the CRM’s website, you can assume that it’s not affordable.
There are many Real Estate CRMs that many agents are familiar with: Real Geeks, Boomtown, Kunversion, etc… Many of these CRMs have great features but either cost over $1,000 per month or are affordable but offer lackluster CRM features to run a real estate business in today’s times. We are proud to introduce Zephyr Leads, the Most Complete Real Estate CRM & Marketing System on the Planet that is user friendly and packed with features to close more deals and stay top of mind with your clients without breaking the budget.
Zephyr Leads is a definite game changer in the real estate industry. Agents no longer have to spend thousands of dollars per month on an advanced CRM system. The money saved can be invested into more lead generation and client gifts to generate even more business.
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Zephyr Leads is relentless when it comes to lead ROI. We can help you close more deals much faster while holding your agents accountable so that leads, opportunities and commissions do not carelessly slip through the cracks. Take a test drive with an Instant Demo Now!
PS. Take a look at our Blog jam packed with lead generation ideas, latest technology and more!