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Best of 2012: Controlling Your Own CRM

December 18 2012

We're celebrating the end the year by counting down our 10 most engaging articles of 2012. This article was posted back in January and is #9 in our countdown. See #10 here.

people puzzleIf you're like some agents, you use a CRM (customer relationship management software) kindly provided by your broker. A CRM is a wonderful tool to help keep you organized and connected. However, while we're not suggesting that you "look a gift horse in the mouth," we are recommending that you ask yourself one important question: "Who controls my data?"

I'll run through a hypothetical to demonstrate why the answer to this question is so important. John Q. Agent uses a CRM provided by his broker. When John then moves to a different brokerage, he may be able to export his contacts as a .csv file, but not the entirety of the information he has painstakingly entered over the years. Appointments, documents, and other information will be lost. In addition, while he's trying to get settled in a new brokerage, he's dealing with this complication.

Now this is not an adversarial, agent vs. broker issue. We understand the importance of strong relationships between agents and brokers – your broker will be your advocate, your ally and provide invaluable training and support. If they provide a CRM solution, they do it because they're trying to help you stay organized and achieve your goals. We're merely suggesting that a successful real estate agent will build lifelong relationships with their customers – and a CRM, where you control the data, is one way to do that.

First, Ask the Question

Take a moment to assess what you're using for a CRM. No, Outlook is not a CRM. Does your broker provide the software? If so, ask them to explain what happens if you move for any reason.

Choose a CRM

If your broker retains your CRM after you leave, and you want to prevent loss of data and a stressful transition, it's up to you to choose and maintain a CRM on your own. You have many options. Once again, Outlook or Mail for Mac is not a CRM!

You have many options to choose from. If you're looking for a product with a CRM at its core (not as a second thought), you may want to consider one of the most popular options such as:

  • Wise Agent Virtual Office and CRM. Wise Agent is an Internet-based CRM system designed specifically for REALTORS®, by REALTORS®. Features include contact management, transaction management, time management, marketing tools for print or email, and unlimited document storage. From what we hear, Wise Agent also has some of the most incredible customer support in the business. If you want to learn more about each of these features, you can read our product review of Wise Agent's CRM here

    We chatted with Brandon Wise, Wise Agent's CEO about the issue of broker-control over agent CRMs. "We get the calls about this after the fact," explains Brandon. "Agents call us and they're upset because they've moved to a new brokerage and now, when they're stressed about trying to settle in, they have to deal with lost data and finding a CRM solution."

    "If someone calls me before they're in this unfortunate situation," Brandon continues, "I explain that if they choose Wise Agent and decide to move to a new brokerage, it's as simple as changing your logo and updating your branding. Within minutes, you can email your database to let them know where you're working now."

  • Top Producer. Top Producer's CRM provides integration with REALTOR.com® and local MLSs to pull in market and listing data. With this tool, agents can reference neighborhood trends, import listings, or build a CMA. Top Producer can also help with marketing – with social media connections, email and print campaigns, even text messaging built right in. View the Top Producer product description.

  • Market Insider from Market Leader. Market Insider is a powerful CRM. However, the folks at Market Leader explain that one of their key differentiators is that Market Insider CRM integrates seamlessly with other Market Leader solutions for websites, IDX, virtual tours, email marketing, and more.

You can view a complete list of CRM solutions in our product directory.