As a Real Estate professional, you are out of the office a lot. When you are out, having access to everything you need to conduct your business in a professional manner is critical. You field numerous phone calls during the day from clients and prospects that are depending on you to give them info and advice. You have daily lists of people you need to contact, from leads to vendors to clients, and have to have their contact information readily available at your fingertips. Heck, you even want to use your time wisely, sometimes knocking out a quick marketing project or newspaper ad, while sitting at a quiet open house or broker tour. Without truly being “mobile”, none of this is possible.
Enter cloud computing. Unless you live somewhere that the internet does not exist, I would venture to guess that you have at least heard of cloud computing. Cloud computing is the newest “hot item” that has everyone buzzing. Cloud computing has given rise to a new breed of savy companies (such as ours), that allow the “every man” to have tools in their arsenal that were once only available to those mega corporations that had millions of dollars of infrastructure, and teams of IT People to support it. If there is any proof out there that cloud computing is the wave of the future, all you need to do is look at the “old companies” that have been offering things like CRM solutions to Realtors, for years, and see how they are scrambling to ride this very popular wave.
Given the fact that you have these “new young bucks” taking the industry to a new level, and at the same time the “old dogs, working on learning new tricks”, there are some big differences in offerings. It is safe to say that not all cloud solutions are the same and that there are no universal offerings that are standard to all these solutions. To those ends, here is a brief list of some key things to consider when evaluating a cloud computing CRM solution and deciding if it is right for you.
1) If it doesn’t “sync”, it stinks
FACT: If your CRM solution doesn’t seamlessly sync with your outlook, gmail, mac mail, smart phone, ipad or any other device that you keep an address book on, you WILL NOT have the time to do duplicate entries to make sure all your records are in sync.
Trust me on this. I’ve been working with Real Estate Agents since 1997. One thing that is universal to every agent I have ever met is that they are busy and they never have enough time to keep up with “all the little things”. Duplicate entry and updating of contact information is the textbook definition of one of those “little things”.
Your CRM solution should be able to “truly” sync with your devices. “Truly” in this case means that it has to be a two-way sync. If you update something on your phone, all your other devices, including your CRM need to automatically update. Conversely, if you update something in your CRM, or your computer, you also want those changes to universally be made across all your contact books.
This is a must. Do not accept any reasons from a vendor as to why this is not necessary, or a bad idea. There simply is not a case that can be made for not having a sync feature built into your CRM.
2) New tools, technologies and features are popping up all over, every day. Your solution has to be “open”.
You really should consider using a system that has what is called an “Open API”. In layman’s terms, what this basically means is that a CRM system with an open API can be programmed to interact with other outside systems (e.g. your MLS system, custom mapping software, online document storage systems, chat/interaction systems, auto-dialers, etc).
When a system has an open API, the companies running these systems generally are “outside the box” thinkers. They are always reviewing new outside systems and looking at ways to creatively integrate them into their CRM offering, giving you a system that is continually advancing and always staying cutting edge.
Even more, an open system gives you the power to be a visionary as well. With the help of a programmer, you can integrate just about anything into a system that has an open API with another, giving you the ability to tweak your CRM solution and turn it into something that nobody else has (thus giving you a competitive advantage in your marketplace).
If your current solution only allows you to play “within their walled garden” (i.e. they won’t work with you to integrate any outside features), you should really look hard at whether or not they have your best interests in mind and are motivated to always be at the forefront of technology and not just doing “the same old same old”.
3) Simply having a CRM these days is not enough. Look for “multichannel” solutions
Just being able to communicate with your clients, keep notes of conversations, follow up tasks, etc. is not enough anymore. In this fast paced world, it’s more necessary than ever to have everything within your CRM system, giving you a quick, easy, one stop shop to do everything you need to do in your day to day business.
Here are a list of some of the top other features to look for, when finding the perfect CRM solution for your Real Estate Business
• Business Practice Management (i.e. being able to track the health of your business, and if you are reaching your goals
• Action Items & Planning
•Pre-Built Drip Marketing Campaigns
• Social Media Management Tools & Brand Monitoring
• Integrated Print Marketing Solutions
• Customizable Dashboards (again, along the lines of tracking the health of things, such as web leads, website hits, listing alerts, etc.)
Moving from a “traditional CRM System” and planning a targeted deployment to a Cloud system is not a small task. It is however much easier, if you take extra care to make sure all your bases will be covered when you finally do decide to make that jump.
Are you thinking of making the jump to the cloud? Do you have a killer new feature that you are trying to figure out how to implement into your current cloud CRM system? Would you like some advice with more tips and pitfalls to avoid when choosing a cloud CRM provider for your Real Estate business? Contact me anytime, and I would be more than happy to help you in any way I can.