Your CRM database does more than just organize your contracts.
We’ve got 12 ways you can use it to build relationships and boost business.
LET YOUR DATABASE DO THE WORK FOR YOU
At a glance CRMs can help you connect with your most promising buyers and sellers. A good system includes checklists and templates to manage the transaction process. Your CRM’s analytical tools can provide important insights on your business.
KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN A CRM
• Number of contacts it can handle
• Ability to import data to other applications, such as Gmail or Excel
• Ability to export data to other applications, such as a broker’s marketing platform
• Availability of customer support
• Ability to integrate with other applications you now use
• New features or functions you could apply in your business
• Lead-capture functions
If you’re a new sales associate, a CRM system can even provide a launching pad for your business, says David Anderson, president and founder of LionDesk, a California-based CRM company. “As you start meeting people, you can put those contacts into your CRM, along with notes about them,” he says. “Then, you can categorize your contacts and start an active prospecting program.” Despite the advantages, only about 20 percent of associates nationwide use a CRM system, according to Brandon Wise, founder and CEO of Wise Agent, an Arizona based CRM company. “Agents who excel in real estate develop a system to organize their business processes,” he says. “Otherwise, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, miss a critical transaction deadline or forget to reach out to an active prospect.”
12 TIPS ON CRMS
Here are 12 ways to grow your business using a CRM:
1. Build your database. Greco and her two team members input every new contact into their system. “About half of our business comes from people we haven’t met before,” says Greco. “Building our database is vital for generating new leads.” Wise adds that many CRMs can automatically capture incoming email contacts and online leads, freeing up time you otherwise might spend re-entering data. Also, unlike a spreadsheet system such as Excel, a CRM lets you add personal notes about each contact and track your prior conversations, he says.
2.Group your contacts. Being able to organize your contacts into groups is one of the best features of CRMs, says Anderson. Just tagging people as buyers or sellers, for instance, lets you understand who’s who in your sphere of influence. “We use our CRM to target owners in the neighborhoods [we prospect], as well as prospective buyers,” says Julie Vandendriessche, who works with her business partner Jill Drafts, on the J&J Team at RE/MAX Exclusive Collection in Orlando. “That alone gives us a big advantage in our email marketing.” With about 1,600 contacts in their CRM, Pozek and his team also rely on categorizing when promoting open houses, new listings and other activities. “We also have a database with thousands of agents in North America who may send us referrals from their markets,” he adds.
3.Personalize your messages. Regardless of your prospecting style— email, phone calls, texts your CRM can help you deliver your messages with a personal touch by alerting you to birthdays, anniversaries and other special days. “Our CRM helps us plan our holiday greeting program, including who should receive a hand-delivered card,” Vandendriessche says. “Those personal contacts help us grow our business from past customers and referrals.”
4. Organize your prospecting. Part of the allure to having systems in place is to automate your prospecting. A welldesigned CRM will let you preschedule emails, texts, social media posts and video messages to go out to all your contacts or just to certain groups. You can also organize an email drip campaign to keep your name in front of long-term prospects. As Pozek says, “You never know who will respond to your emails, so automating a campaign makes a great deal of sense.”
5.Create a “contact-today” list. Every morning, your CRM can provide a list of new leads and follow-up contacts to include in your daily schedule. Anderson calls this an action-oriented call list and says it is one of the powerful features of a CRM. “For instance, you could ask your CRM to show you everyone who has visited your website and saved information on three properties,” he says. Those people are likely to be active prospects who should be added to the day’s call list.
6.Streamline social media marketing. A powerful CRM can manage your social media contacts across multiple sites. It can also simplify the process of posting blogs, photos, videos and other marketing content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other sites. “If you get an email from a new prospect, your CRM can also provide you with background about that person, making it easier for you to reach out and start a conversation,” says Wise.
7.Access your data from anywhere. Most of today’s CRMs store information in the cloud. So if you get an email from a potential seller while you’re showing a property, you don’t have to drive back to the office to consult your database. You just open the CRM on your smartphone or tablet.
8.Manage a team. If you lead a team, a CRM is vital for coordinating everyone’s daily activities. “Our CRM makes it easy to see what tasks need to be done and who is following up with whom,” says Greco. “If I’m on vacation, my team members can step into my role and keep our business rolling along.”
9. Capture new listings. Showcasing your CRM’s marketing capabilities is a great way to gain new listings, says Anderson. “It can be mind-blowing for a prospective seller to see how you can tap the power of a CRM platform to market that home.” Also with a CRM, you have a comprehensive list of potential buyers that you can match to a new listing. Wise adds that a CRM can also generate property reports that can be incorporated in a listing presentation easily. “You can have a report at your fingertips with just a click,” he adds.
10. Market your listings. A CRM’s toolbox helps you coordinate marketing, including website descriptions, fliers, brochures, advertisements, open houses, social media posts and other materials. “After you get a new listing, you need to let your clients, prospects and other associates know about the property,” Anderson says. “With a CRM, you can market that listing in many different ways. For instance, you can send a video text to every potential buyer interested in that neighborhood and price point. You can also let other agents know via email or text within five minutes of getting that listing. ”Your CRM also provides you with documentation of your marketing, so you can send regular reports to the seller, says Wise.
11. Track your transactions. CRM systems can provide you with checklists and templates to help smooth your transactions. “Our CRM system is invaluable invaluable for managing the many steps in the transaction,” says Ingrid Poole, who leads The Poole Team at Pineywoods Realty in Tampa. “If there’s an issue, we can find out right away. We can also check in with the other party’s agent, the mortgage lender or the title company to keep things moving toward the closing.”
12. Analyze your results. How many solid leads do you get from a typical open house? Are you generating more business through Facebook or Zillow? What type of content (photos, videos or blogs, for instance) generated the most interest? You can use the analytical tools of a CRM system to answer questions like these and measure how well you are marketing your business and listings. “You might find your contacts respond better to texts than emails,” Wise says. “Or you could see that one email message is opened a lot more than others. A CRM can help you see who on your team is doing a good job of scheduling appointments and completing daily tasks.” A database is the most powerful tool for growing a real estate business, says Pozek. “While its value compounds over time as you keep adding more contacts, you need a good CRM to use that data effectively,” he says. “Using a CRM on a daily basis is an excellent way to grow a long-term business.”
BY RICHARD WESTLUND