How to Find The Best CRM For Your Real Estate Business

how to find the best crm for your real estate business | AgentAdvice.com

For real estate agents, leads are as good as gold because they offer the promise of new business.

Agents are busy, often managing their own small business while juggling many clients at once. Finding leads and chasing down their contact info can be hard enough already. Keeping track of contact information shouldn’t be another difficult task you need to handle. That’s where customer relationship management (CRM) software comes into play.

CRMs help real estate agents and brokerages organize and track all their contact info in a centralized database. But there are a ton of CRMs available on the market, and not all are specific to real estate.

Since your CRM is where you’ll be storing some of your most valuable information, choosing a CRM that fits your business needs is essential. Not all CRMs are equal, but this article will help you figure out what type of CRM is right for you.

 

What Is CRM Software? 

Sales and marketing professionals across industries use CRM software. At its core, a CRM system is a centralized database for keeping track of lead and customer contact info. But it can do so much more. Your CRM can schedule and manage appointments and set up drip campaigns for lead nurturing. It can also integrate with other software you use, pulling information from third-party applications into its database.

While a variety of different businesses uses cRMs, real estate agents and firms make up 25% of CRM software buyers. Thus, it’s not surprising that there is a whole breed of CRMs designed for real estate agents and businesses.

These types of CRMs have all the functionality of a standard customer relationship management system. But they have a few unique features as well. Here are the main features that are common across real estate CRMs:

  • Contact management
  • Lead routing capabilities
  • Email and texting templates
  • Email tracking
  • Email drip campaigns
  • Triggered emails
  • Batch emails
  • Listing & closing capabilities
  • Reporting & analytics
  • Integrations with other software (e.g., G Suite, Mailchimp, Zapier)
  • Mobile application

Some real estate CRMs may offer advanced features such as built-in lead sourcing and generation, in-app dialer and call tracking, and contact relationship intelligence.

 

6 Tips To Help You Find The Best Real Estate CRM

One of the trickiest parts of buying a new CRM is finding the one that best matches your business needs. Sifting through all the different CRM options can be overwhelming. This is true whether you’re a solo agent, leading a small team of agents, or working for a national brokerage firm.

There other types of CRMS that probably won’t be as helpful for you (namely general sales CRMs and CRM systems designed for different industries). So even if you’ve stumbled across what looks like a great CRM package, it may not be created with the needs of real estate agents in mind.

Below are six rules of thumb to keep in mind as your shop for your next CRM. They’ll help you assess different options, and make sure you land on one that’s the best choice for you.

 

1) Invest in a CRM Designed for Real Estate 

While there’s nothing wrong with using a standard CRM to help manage your business information, it will likely lack a few key features.

For example, tried and tested email templates designed to ask for referrals may not be included in a generic CRM package. Some real estate CRMs also allow agents to complete listing and closing activities. Zillow Premier Agent CRM allows real estate agents to see their leads’ and customers’ search activity on Zillow.com. For example, which listings they’ve been browsing or saving.

So before signing on the dotted line, ask yourself, ‘is this CRM specifically designed for real estate agents and teams?’ If not, double-check that it has ALL the features you need before purchasing

There’s one more caveat to be aware of if you decide to invest in a non-real estate CRM. If you buy a standard CRM, you’ll have to put in a decent amount of time and effort customizing it to fit your business model. On the other hand, CRMs made for the real estate industry usually need minimal customization, if any.

Here’s a list of a handful of real estate specific CRMs to help you start your search off right:

    • Follow Up Boss
    • IXACT Contact
    • Zillow Premier Agent CRM
    • Contactually by Compass
    • LionDesk
    • Rethink CRM
    • Wise Agent
    • Top Producer
    • Realvolve

Many tools do many things beyond CRMS. If you’re just looking for a CRM, you probably want to go with a specialized tool from the list above. But if you need a full end to end solution, you should consider:

    • BoomTown
    • Market Leader
    • Propertybase CRM (formerly Boston Logic)
    • CINC
    • Sierra Interactive
    • Firepoint

 

2) Look for Must-Have Features 

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a handful of CRM options, it’s time to start evaluating each product. Not all CRMs have the same feature set, though most do have the core list of features mentioned above.

Making sure each CRM you’re considering has the features you need is a great way to narrow down your list further.

a) Individual Agents

For example, if you’re working as a solo agent, one of the most important features is a robust mobile application. It should let you input information on the go, look up contact information, book appointments, and log activities like client calls or meetings.

Based on your needs and business goals, you may not need a CRM with super fancy automation capabilities. For example, if you plan on spending most of your time within your CRM on lead nurturing, a CRM with solid email marketing capabilities will do the trick.

Depending on your budget, you may also want to consider a CRM tool that has built-in lead sourcing/generation capabilities. Rather than paying for a CRM and separate lead generation tool, you can serve two needs with one product.

Some examples of budget-friendly CRMs for solo real estate agents include:

    • Zillow Premier Agent CRM
    • Wise Agent
    • FreshSales

 

b) Teams and Brokerages

If you lead a team of agents or are purchasing a new tool for your whole brokerage, there are extra features you’ll want to have. Many larger teams need the ability to route leads to specific agents based on things like location, listing source, or lead value.

Real estate firms that bring in hundreds of leads per week also need features that allow agents to reach out to potential clients fast. Things like the ability to instantly call or text a new lead from within your CRM and two-way SMS conversations can make all the difference.

Brokerages also need access to agent management features that solo agents don’t need. These include call tracking, individual agent activity reporting, deal tracking, etc.

Some examples of comprehensive CRMs for real estate teams and firms include:

    • Follow Up Boss
    • Contactually by Compass
    • Propertybase CRM

 

3) Make Sure Your CRM Matches Your Use Case 

Certain real estate CRMs may be a better fit for your business than others, depending on how you plan on using it. For example, will there be one primary CRM user/admin on your team? If you work as an individual agent, how many times per week (or day) do you plan on logging into your CRM?

Asking yourself these questions will help you consider how much things like ease of use, cost of each extra license, and an activity dashboard are. For example, usability should be a primary concern if you plan on training all the agents at your brokerage on how to use the CRM.

But if you only plan on logging into your CRM and updating information once each week, an activity dashboard is essential. It will help you get a high-level view of all the deals you have in progress and let you pick up where you left off last time.

Another important element related to usability is how easy it is to use your CRM out in the field. Many CRMs have a mobile app that allows agents to log in, access information, and input new data into the system while away from their computer. Providing your agents with the flexibility to use the CRM platform when they want, wherever they want, will also help increase adoption across your brokerage. If the CRM isn’t easy to use whenever, wherever, it’s unlikely you’re going to see amazing results from using it.

If you’re looking for a CRM tool that does it all, make sure your team is onboard switching to using one platform for everything. Along with matching your CRM to your use case, make sure to take advantage of the free trials software vendors offer. Ultimately, the best CRM for your business is the one your team will use.

 

4) Go With a CRM That Integrates With Your Other Software

One of the easiest mistakes to make when purchasing a new CRM is buying one that isn’t compatible with the other tools you use.

Most modern CRM products nowadays are cloud-based and integrate with a variety of third-party software. Yet, there are still some older legacy CRMs that may have limited integration capabilities. Or, if you’re thinking of buying a cheaper CRM from a less well-known company, they may only have a few native integrations for you to choose from.

If you’re already using/happy with a specific ecosystem or all-in-one tool (like BoomTown), you definitely should look at the functionality you’re already paying for before looking outside.

So before investing in a CRM software, think about which email service provider (e.g., Gmail or Outlook), multiple listings services (MLS), email marketing, calendar, marketing automation, and marketing tools you already use. Make sure that each tool you use on a daily basis integrates with the CRM products you’re considering.

 

5) Choose a CRM That Will Uplevel Your Customer Communications 

At a basic level, CRM is a giant database that stores and organizes contact information. But real estate CRMs can help you out with so much more than just organization.

Most real estate CRMs include features and tools that will help you uplevel your lead and client communications. For example, if you have a bunch of past clients that you want to check-in with on a regular cadence, you can set up email drip campaigns using your CRM. Some real estate CRM providers refer to these types of email campaigns as ‘action plans,’ like the example from Follow Up Boss below.

FollowUpBoss email campaign example | AgentAdvice.com

Email and text templates are another great tool agents can use to craft personalized messaging. For example, you can use elements like customized greetings to make your messages feel more personal. This helps your clients and potential customers feel like your speaking directly to them while saving you time. Here’s an example of a customizable email template offered by Contactually:

Contactually email campaign example | AgentAdvice.com

6) Find a CRM That Fits Your Needs AND Your Budget 

Another giant mistake you can make when investing in a CRM tool is not matching your needs to your budget. Many first time CRM buyers think they need to buy a platform that has all the bells and whistles, even if they don’t need all the features included. So they end up buying a CRM platform that’s overkill for their business at a steep cost.

In the end, this could harm your business by eating away at your funds and providing a low or negative return on investment (ROI).

The best way to prevent this is by making a list of all your must-have features (rule of thumb #2 above!), and laying out your budget. If you’re a solo agent looking to buy a CRM, you may not need all the features included in more advanced platforms.

If this sounds like you, here’s a list of free CRM tools to check out. (Though keep in mind not all are real estate-specific.)

    • Agile CRM
    • Freshsales
    • Zoho CRM
    • HubSpot CRM
    • Zillow Premier Agent CRM

Large teams of agents or real estate firms tend to need more comprehensive CRM platforms that have some of the key features mentioned above. These include lead and client routing, management features, and detailed reporting. So the most important budget question to ask if you’re in this position is, ‘are you looking for a CRM platform that can double as a lead generation tool?’.

Combining your CRM and lead sourcing/generation tool can be a great way to cut down on costs while making sure your agents have access to the right tools.

Here are a few examples of real estate CRMs that do double duty as a lead generation tool:

    • Firepoint
    • Top Producer
    • Propertybase (CRM & Marketing package)

 

Benefits of Using a Real Estate CRM 

In case you were still wondering why you should invest in a CRM tool, here’s a breakdown of the main reasons why you should.

1) It can save you time and money

The biggest benefit that comes with having all of your lead and client information organized in a CRM is that it helps save time and money. Don’t let the leads go to waste. Buying (and using!) a solid CRM should help you save money in these three ways:

  • Increase conversion rates with purposeful follow up.
    • It should go without saying, but by having more consistent follow-up on your leads – you will close more. This is super helpful because you’re able to squeeze out more revenue from the same amount of leads. In other words, you don’t increase your ad cost at the top of the funnel – just get more out the bottom.
  • No more leads falling through the cracks.
    • On a similar note – many leads get wasted entirely in most brokerages. The more rigor you can create around giving each lead the white glove treatment, the more you will close. Letting them sit unattended is as good as throwing money away. Thankfully, most CRM platforms allow users to set up automated outreach campaigns so that no leads end up falling through the cracks.
  • Get to new leads faster
    • Individual agents and brokerages spend thousands of dollars to find new leads. Since every buyer/seller interaction is recorded, it’s easier to set up notifications prompting agents to follow up in a timely manner.

 

2) It keeps your business organized

Having a central location where all of your most important client info is tracked helps prevent bad business outcomes. For example, you’ll have no more missed follow-up calls because you forgot the client’s number or wrote it down on a napkin. You also won’t forget to ask that happy client you worked with four months ago for a referral because you can set up automated email campaigns using your CRM.

 

3) CRMs cut down on manual work and human error

Have you ever tragically lost a lead because you wrote their phone number down incorrectly? The beauty of CRM software is that it keeps track of all the nitty-gritty details for you. This includes contact names, phone numbers, emails, and any recent conversations you had with them. CRMs also have powerful automation features and email templates. These allow you to spend less time writing messaging and more time actually talking with your clients.

 

4) It’s a database that travels with you 

Real estate agents usually have very busy days packed with meetings, phone calls, and emails. Instead of lugging your laptop around with you everywhere you go, most CRMs have a mobile app that allows you to access information anywhere you go. This means you’ll be able to access your contact database and make updates while on the go.

 

5) It provides more reliable and consistent communication 

One of the most important ingredients of finding (and keeping!) happy clients is consistent and reliable communication from you—their agent. Customers are much more likely to offer a referral for a friendly, thoughtful agent who reaches out every once in a while than they are for an agent who goes dark after the sale. CRM software can send you notifications and reminders to make sure you stay in touch with your most valuable clients.

 

Now that you know what to look for in a CRM, are you ready to start your search for the best CRM for your business? Be sure to check out our other AgentAdvice.com article that gives an overview of 5 of the best CRM tools for real estate agents.