Here’s how to find the perfect fit when shopping for a CRM

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If you are lucky, the recent turmoil in real estate has not affected your business much, and you’re still stocked up on leads. Even if you aren’t juggling multiple clients right now, managing the information of the clients you have is a critical piece of the home selling and buying puzzle. 

Gone are the days of collecting business cards and cramming them into an overstuffed Rolodex. These days, customer relationship management (CRM) software is the tool that makes keeping client information safe and accessible. But with so many options on the market, it can be tough to decide which one to use. Here’s how to find the perfect CRM fit for you and your business.

Understand what CRM software does

The first step is to define exactly what you can expect to gain from CRM software. In general, CRM systems help you to collect and organize customer information. Once you have some basic client information, different real estate-specific systems offer various features, including:

  • Managing contacts
  • Routing leads to other agents
  • Email and text templates for marketing
  • Triggered emails (i.e., if a client enters in a specific location or word)
  • Large batch emailing for weekly listings or other communication

CRM software can analyze how much traction your emails and texts are getting. They also have the ability to list properties and manage closings — and many integrate their software with other programs, such as Mailchimp and G Suite.

Start by identifying your needs

The perfect CRM software is the one that fits your specific client and real estate specialty. If you’re marketing to a specific age range or income bracket, it’s essential to manage the information, so you don’t lose out on potential leads.

Before selecting the best CRM software, start by considering: 

  • The size of your team
  • The goals of your business
  • Your specialization

This can help you better analyze your current workflow, identifying pain points and where you might be more efficient and effective with CRM software. You might be well served by features involving lead management, contact organization, email marketing, task automation and reporting capabilities. 

Set a budget

With any business, you’ll need to work within financial constraints. Establish a realistic budget for your CRM software, and stick to it. Because there are so many options, there is also a diverse range of price points. If you are just beginning your career and money is tight, open-source options (i.e., free to access) can get you started. Once you figure out a growth strategy, consider premium software in the future.

Do some research

Outlining your needs and setting a budget will pare down your options considerably. Use these first two steps to find a few systems catering to real estate professionals. Take a look at each, assessing:

  • System features
  • Scalability
  • User-friendliness
  • Customer support 

Other real estate professionals can also provide recommendations, as can online reviews or posts on industry forums. 

To get started, a few real estate-specific CRM options are:

  • Propertybase
  • Follow Up Boss
  • LionDesk
  • Wise Agent
  • Top Producer
  • Realvolve

Make sure they’re mobile

As Gen Z enters the real estate market, these digital natives want easily accessible technology. The same goes for real estate professionals marketing to Gen Z.

The CRM software you select should be accessible and agile on various devices, including smartphones and tablets. This allows you to access all client information on the go, helping you to be more responsive and productive.

Look for integration

It’s frustrating to add a new technology to your repertoire only to discover that it doesn’t play well with others. You don’t need that headache in your life. The best CRM software seamlessly integrates with other tools, such as marketing software, transaction management systems and MLS listings. 

If your systems are integrated, information flows smoothly between platforms. This reduces the risk of errors in data entry and lost clients. 

Focus on customization

While many open-source CRM software programs are not readily customizable, you can find options that reflect your unique real estate business for a few dollars more. As you begin to refine your brand and home in on your best practices, your CRM should follow along with you.

And customization isn’t just about being able to set certain features. The best software will grow with you. Look for software that can accommodate an increasing number of contacts, leads and transactions without slowing down, glitching, or losing speed.

Get training and support

You wouldn’t send a client into a dark house on an evening showing and let them fumble their way through without telling them where the lights are, would you? Selecting a CRM system without included training and support is a bit like that.

You may be fluent in other programs, but getting help setting up your system and integrating it into your other tools makes the process go more smoothly. Getting training also helps you use every feature you’re paying for — not just the few you can figure out on your own. 

And with everything else you have to worry about, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that a support team can provide when something goes wrong.

Customer data protection

Even though everyone is living their lives online these days, it’s vital that you reassure your customers when it comes to security and data privacy. While not every CRM software collects sensitive information, people do not want their mailing address, email and other personal information showing up on the dark web. 

Your CRM provider should have robust security measures in place, including:

  • Encryption
  • Authentication
  • Regular data backups

They should also comply with data privacy regulations, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), or state standards, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Don’t panic

Homebuyers might be nervous about current market conditions, but they haven’t given up entirely. There are still some buyers and sellers ready to go, but you’ll need to stay organized to take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of you.

You may be tempted to just download whatever is free and close at hand. Don’t fall into that trap. Investing the time and effort it takes to find the best CRM software will ultimately contribute to your success as a real estate professional.

Luke Babich is the CSO of Clever Real Estate in St. Louis. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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