Choosing the right real estate CRM for the new year

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January 5, 2017
5
min read

Any business that wants to compete needs to arm itself with the best tech tools available.Real estate is obviously no exception. In fact, being one of the most highly competitive industries around, making the right decision on your technology is doubly important. Sure, we can sit around and talk about the importance of the nice-to-haves like a VR headset, a DJI drone or a Matterport camera. But before we think about any of that, let’s focus on the basics: how to choose the right real estate CRM for your agency.

Don’t make any flash judgements

Choosing the right real estate CRM the first time is going to save you a whole lot of time, money and headaches. If you decide three months down the track that the CRM you picked isn’t going to work out for your agency - swapping to a new system is going to be painful and expensive.Don’t sign anything until you’re certain the CRM you’ve picked is the right one for you. Measure twice - cut once. It’ll far outweigh the hassle of having to sign a new contract, import your data and train your entire staff to use a new system later on down the road.

Does it integrate with other software tools you use?

With that in mind - you’re going to want to ensure the system you select is going to last. You don’t want to sign up for a product that’s only going to remain relevant for a few more months. Sure, most CRM have all the basic functionality down-pat - but you never know what new innovation is going to become imperative for your success in the next year.With the current pace of technological change, you’ll want to ensure the CRM you choose can integrate with other tools you’ll need in future. Among other things, integrations can radically minimise the time you waste adding the same data into two or more systems, and make your life a hell of a lot easier. Plus, the ability to have all the software tools you use on a day-to-day basis ‘speaking’ with one another streamlines your day out of sight. At Rex, we call this a ‘Single point of truth’; your one-stop software-shop.The ability to integrate is especially important for larger offices or franchises. If you’re a decision maker for an agency with a development team of your own, you’re going to want to ensure your CRM makes it as easy as possible to code your own home-grown solutions. Ask them what they think of the system’s ‘API’ (they’ll know what we mean).

Is the interface easy enough to actually use?

Functionality is important. Obviously you need to make sure your CRM of choice has all the tools and features you need to effectively run your business; reporting, financials, prospecting - whatever’s most important to you. But you should never underestimate the power of a good-looking, usable interface.The value of a database is intrinsically linked to the data you put into it. If your agents don’t want to (or can’t) use the system because it’s ugly, hard to use or fragmented, then all its fancy functionality is rendered worthless.While a sexy UI might seem like just an added bonus, you should seriously weigh up how your software looks and behaves in your final decision. Even a single unnecessary step (it might take three clicks instead of one to navigate to your agenda, for instance) can add up to hours of wasted time over the course of a few months.This is where it becomes important to spend time in product demonstrations. If you find you’re having trouble following along, another system might be better for you.

Is it cloud based and mobile?

One of the most important considerations when choosing your real estate CRM is mobility.In modern business, data is your most valuable asset. Agents spend a significant amount of their time out of the office - and that’s where plenty of data is going to come from. (That is, if they have the ability to easily track it).If you want your reporting to be comprehensive, accurate and insightful, you need to ensure the system you choose allows agents to log all their touch points with clients, take notes, and make calls on the go. You don’t want to arm your agents with software tools that end at the office door.

Does it support the data you need to track?

Make sure the database you choose allows you to easily track the information most important to you.If your agency specialises in project marketing, for instance, you’re going to want to ensure the product you choose has supports this. Trying to store information on the many stages of a particular development in a system designed for residential sales is going to prove to be near impossible to manage.If you can, find a CRM that has designated features for the type of property you stock your shelves with. What’s more, the ability to store custom data fields to supplement default values is crucial for any agency working with niche property types, or those who prefer a little more freedom. Software should change to suit your business - not the other way around.

Does the company offer training and support?

Most software companies have some sort of help centre, support team or training schedule - but this shouldn’t always be taken as a given.When you’re researching real estate CRMs online, or talking with a sales consultant, you need to take support and training services into account. If the company you’re considering going with has a cheap product - but the saved costs come from a lack of support staff - you’re going to need to consider whether those fifty extra dollars you’re saving a month are worth the two hours you’re wasting a day trying to figure out how use your system.Support and training are absolutely critical if you want to get bang for your buck. There’s no point in buying a Maserati if you can’t figure out how to get it into second gear. Even the most advanced software is only as good as the end user.At the end of the day - you can’t be swayed into a decision by the scope of functionality alone. Comprehensive feature-sets are nice - but if your whole team can’t use the system, it’s not going to be of any benefit to your business.With all that being said, if you came to this post looking for a single, salient takeaway - here’s the final word.Above all else, choose a system you think you’ll actually use. Too many agencies waste thousands on software they never touch. Having a real estate CRM you don’t use is just an expensive way to have no CRM at all.

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