Your CRM system can be your best ally as a real estate agent. But it’s important to keep your database clean and up-to-date, plus learn how to use your CRM’s best features to full potential. If, you want to lift your real estate business up a notch follow these best practices.
Here’s what I’ve learned over my 15 years in real estate about automating your customer relationship management systems and processes.
Why is it important to use a CRM?
When you start your own business, there’s a good chance you’re starting from scratch, with no contacts at all. This can be scary, but things won’t stay this way for long!
If you take every opportunity to market your real estate brand, provide value added content, and reach out to as many local homeowners and sellers in your neighbourhood as possible on social media, you’ll soon find you have a steady flow of contacts signing up to your email list.
It’s important to set yourself up for success right from the start, by pre-planning and thinking through the types of contacts you’ll want to capture and how you’ll want to nurture your leads with customer relationship management.
A good quality CRM or marketing automation system is an essential tool for every real estate agent, enabling you to keep your contacts organised in one place, make notes to remind yourself of where your relationship is (and conversations you’ve had) and even automate many of your marketing activities, saving yourself valuable time.
However, customer data often changes. If you don’t take the trouble to keep your CRM database clean, you can find yourself in a state of confusion, wasting time and resources by marketing to leads who are never going to become clients, or worse still sending messages to those who are, in an inappropriate manner.
Good CRM habits will make your workload easier and ultimately prove extremely valuable to your business.
These are the absolute essential steps to take if you want to maintain a clean and useful CRM database.
1. Get the right contact details
Collect full names, email addresses and mobile numbers where possible – and of course, the property address is all-important to you as a real estate agent!
If the contact is an investor who lives elsewhere, you’ll potentially need their out of area data if you’re going to target them successfully.
Personal phone numbers and email addresses are preferable to business ones as people change jobs far more frequently these days.
2. Keep your CRM design simple
Your CRM design should only include the fields and classifications you’re actually going to need – every single piece of information in your database should be useful. Too much information on your screen can be confusing.
3. Standardise your entries
Make sure you have a standard data entry format that applies throughout your real estate agency, so everyone is clear on which fields they need to complete.
You should also standardise all forms of postal address entries. For example, if you use “Street” rather than “St”, then everyone entry should ideally be the same. It’s fine to use abbreviations in addresses such as the names of states, but be consistent – this way you’ll be able to segment your database more efficiently and send out personalised location-based marketing messages to local homeowners.
4. Every entry should be unique
Chances are you’ll have some duplicate entries in your database, especially if you’re a large real estate agency. You should delete duplicates or merge them regularly – it’s a complete waste of resources to market to the same person twice; not to mention annoying for the recipient.
5. Know the law
Ensure you keep up-to-date with the laws on privacy and data collection and wash your CRM database each month against the Do Not Call Register.
If you end up telemarketing to someone who has registered their number, you could end up having to pay-a-penalty, as well as harming your business reputation by being seen as a nuisance caller.
6. Put one person in charge
It’s important that one-person within your real estate agency is appointed to be in charge of data – if you are a sole agent this will have to be you, but otherwise, it should ideally be someone highly organised who is a database whizz.
They will be responsible for keeping your database clean, identifying data trends and discovering new customer groups to target. They’ll also make it their business to remind the rest of the team about the importance of capturing data and keeping it clean!
7. Purge old data
Getting rid of data can feel scary, but the less cluttered your database is, the better. Don’t be afraid to purge old or unnecessary records – remember your best leads are those who have visited your website or opened an email from you in the last 60 to 90 days.
8. Cross reference for customer accuracy
Check that all the clients in your accounting system are recorded in your CRM database – or ideally, link the two systems if possible. This way you never need to miss out on any opportunities to encourage repeat purchasing or business referrals.
Using your CRM to make sales easier
Your CRM system should be able to guide you and your team through the entire sales process. Automate as many steps as possible to help ease your workload and make sure you can more easily stay on top of things. Here are a few essential steps to take.
1. Connect your CRM to your email inbox
A good marketing automation system will enable you to install an application that helps you automatically sync new contacts into your contact database. Moving all new enquirers across to your marketing or CRM system ensures that your tracking activities can be handled by your CRM, rather than your inbox. You’re then in a much better position to effect a lead nurturing strategy.
2. Automate as many tasks as possible
The more work your CRM can do for you the more it frees you up to concentrate on building relationships and growing your marketing subscriber lists.
Instead of a CRM that constantly reminds you to do things, try to find one that enables you to design scripts so your marketing system can send out communications on your behalf.
3. Keep a record of conversations
Record notes from all your business conversations, particularly those relating to potential sellers. Ideally, you should make your notes as soon as a conversation is over – don’t leave it until the end of the day or week as you may leave out essential details.
Your contacts will be impressed that you’ve remembered so much about them the next time you speak!
4. Create pipelines
Pipelines ensure you never miss out on a follow-up opportunity. If you need to, sketch them out on paper before integrating them into your CRM system.
Wherever possible, the fields in your CRM should represent all the stages you have to go through to make a sale – this will enable you to see exactly what stage you are at with each relationship, and what your next step needs to be.
How your CRM can assist with marketing
Getting your marketing right is essential to your success as a real estate agent – and your CRM can help ensure that your message is reaching the right people at the right time. Here’s how.
1. Classify your contacts
Every contact in your database should have a classification to make sure they’re receiving the right type of follow-up messages if any.
Use your website forms to allow people to classify themselves as potential leads – ask them questions that will help you determine whether they are a first home buyer, upgrader, downsizer or retiree?
Their contact record will then be pre-registered within your CRM database under the home-owning segment to which they belong. You can even use short, to-the-point classifications that only you and your team need understand behind-the-scenes.
Remember, you don’t want to be marketing to competitors or contacts who are related to other areas of the industry. Your peers should have separate classifications in your database so you can still contact them if you need to. This way, only potential clients will receive your marketing materials. And your competitors should be deleted. They are only fishing for your best ideas in any case!
2. Connect with contacts in other ways
If, an email bounces, it’s not always easy to find a current email address for your contact. You can try searching for the person on Google or looking them up on their workplace website, but the best way to ensure you can stay in touch with your contacts is by connecting with them on social media.
Reach out to people via LinkedIn and Facebook as soon as you meet them, such as at your weekend open homes, or when you follow up by phone. This way, you’ll still be fresh in their minds.
Having the Facebook and LinkedIn apps on your phone is also a good idea as this makes it easier to connect on the spot.
Know when to hire a pro
Managing your data and getting it to work for you can certainly feel like a labour of love sometimes.
So, if you have more data coming into your real estate business than you can handle, or you’re unsure of the best ways to proceed with customer relationship management, consider hiring a marketing or database management guru.
An experienced professional, such as myself, will be able to help you get the absolute most out of your CRM system, making sure it continues to work efficiently for you as your business grows.