The real estate industry deals with large amounts data -- including prospective client information, property inquiries, closings and referrals -- and a real estate CRM system is an effective tool to help increase efficiency.
Due to the competitive market and the expansion of digital marketing, real estate CRM systems are gaining popularity. A real estate CRM system enables real estate agents to shift from one sales or marketing mode to another with minimal headache.
Why real estate agents need a CRM
Real estate isn't nearly as straightforward as many might assume. Different kinds of properties require different marketing approaches, as residential customers and commercial customers have different needs. Both the prospect's pipeline -- which is a combination of marketing, in-person meetings, property showings and property closings -- and the customer journey in real estate can vary tremendously, so real estate agencies require considerable flexibility when considering a CRM system, matching features to their often highly customized requirements.
Real estate agents often set the routine goal of making five sales calls a day, five days a week -- also known as the "daily five." There is a data flow before and after the call. First, agents need to uncover information about the prospective client prior to the call. Then they need to capture additional information during the call. CRM systems excel at this sort of contact management -- they often include fields for storing personal information about customers, such as spouse's name, birthdate and personal interests. The high volume of data involved makes automation essential to agents, and a real estate CRM system delivers that automation.
The real estate sales process also requires a great deal of notetaking on the agent's part, and CRM systems often make note capture and organization much easier by building notation features directly into other functions. Email marketing is an important marketing strategy, and social media now plays a part in lead generation and market analysis. CRM can help there, too, by integrating automated email functionality, as well as social media post building and deployment directly into marketing processes.
Real estate CRM software features
For the most part, real estate CRM software does not differ from traditional CRM systems. Real estate CRM systems offer agents the same conveniences and optimization tools as a conventional CRM platform, including:
- Lead generation. Leads are easy to come by, but qualified, targeted leads with a high likelihood of following through require efficient features for finding them.
- Lead management. After an agent identifies leads, the CRM system needs to manage the leads. A CRM system organizes leads by their likelihood to move forward, saving the agent from wasting time on those that aren't.
- Contact management. After the agent engages with prospective clients, the CRM software must capture those contacts in notes and organize them in coordination with the agent's activity calendar, with notifications to prompt them to follow up with prospects as needed.
- Sales forecasting and analytics. Selling and marketing are operations that take place in a market context. Market data produces analytics that can give the agent an idea of how easy or tough the market will be in any given sales period.
- Campaign management. There is endless detail to executing a sales campaign in any industry, and especially in real estate, where campaign marketing channels are numerous. Coordinating a sales campaign is easier with CRM tools to smooth out the rough spots such as changing schedules or shifting resource allocations.
- Marketing automation. Because marketing is so detail-intensive and time-sensitive, automation is the agent's best friend. Good CRM systems provide automation in abundance, taking repetitive tasks -- such as lead generation or qualification -- off the agent's plate.
A real estate CRM system provides a well-integrated platform for all these features, which are common in most sales and marketing operations. The real estate agent is equipped with all these capabilities -- many of them mobile -- with some additional capabilities specific to the agent's marketplace.
However, there are some additional types of data that other businesses don't require, and real estate CRM systems are designed to accommodate that data. Here are some features that are specific to real estate CRM systems:
- Listings management. In order to attract prospective clients, it's beneficial to post listings across the many real estate portals available. Many real estate CRM systems offer listings management, enabling distribution of information across real estate portals and the ability to configure them in marketing formats, such as sales brochures.
- Property tracking. Conventional CRM platforms can routinely monitor webpage traffic to discover customer preferences. In a real estate CRM system, this functionality is property-specific, informing agents about which sort of property, location, capacity and features a prospective client seeks.
- Properties as investments. Often, a prospective client may seek to buy a property as an investment. A real estate CRM system will not only help the agent find clients to buy, but will also seek out qualified, interested parties who might be interested in investing in a property -- a hotel, for instance -- along with others.
Popular real estate CRM systems
The real estate CRM market is still relatively new compared to the traditional CRM market, but here are some noteworthy players in the field:
- Market Leader
Built on a foundation of all the core essentials -- lead generation, management and nurture, contact management, multichannel marketing and listing management -- Market Leader has extra features, including website integration that automatically identifies and forwards leads, tracking of lead sources and conversions and automated responses to website interest to accelerate initial contacts.
Downside: The real estate office's website must be part of Market Leader's domain, which makes it difficult when switching platforms.
- Follow Up Boss
Follow Up Boss is a team-oriented, complete CRM platform that caters to salespeople who work in groups, rather than individually. Sales teams can work collaboratively with Follow Up Boss, which offers smart lists for sales call management and templates for action plans and campaigns. There are tools for managing follow-ups, lead nurturing, multichannel messaging and website activity tracking. Follow Up Boss also synchronizes with Office 365, Gmail and Google Calendar, ensuring that they all match.
Downside: Follow Up Boss' automation features are not easily customizable.
- Wise Agent
Wise Agent handles lead generation and management, marketing automation, contact management and all the other basic features of a CRM system. It also offers other features, such as commission tracking, transaction management and a call list function that handles the "daily five." Wise Agent has a landing page builder to help with marketing, and its customer management includes custom fields for capturing little details of a prospect -- such as birthdays, names of children and pets.
Downside: With all its functionality, Wise Agent has a big learning curve.
TotalBrokerage is feature-rich, with all the standard CRM system functionalities plus transaction workflow, accounting tools and a team workspace deployment option. Its reporting tools include analytics to stimulate insights; financial forecasting and performance tracking; and integration with Facebook, with the ability for users to customize it to integrate with smaller social media platforms, or any other third-party source.
Downside: TotalBrokerage's learning curve is steep, and the custom integrations mean fewer out-of-the-box integrations.
- IXACT Contact
This platform is all-in-one, with contact management, lead nurturing, marketing website generation, marketing automation and social media integration. IXACT Contact offers many digital assistant features. It prompts the agent to stay in sync with their activity calendar, guides relationship management and provides business management notifications all through a mobile app.
Downside: IXACT Contact won't import contacts from other CRM systems.