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Choosing a CRM

June 09 2013

Last week, we debuted the first article in a series of 'Buyer's Guides' that feature questions to ask and options to consider before making a new purchase. Today, we continue our series by looking at CRMs.

What is a CRM?

crm relationshipsCustomer Relationship Management (or CRM) technology helps professionals manage their contacts. We're talking about much more than a virtual address book; and, no, your email program is not a CRM.

Modern CRM technology truly helps you manage your relationship with your contacts so you can record interactions, maintain thorough records, and even perform some of the marketing tasks you use to keep in touch (such as email newsletters).

Questions to Ask

There are some important questions to ask when buying any real estate technology product and some that are unique to choosing a CRM.

First, let's look at general questions you'll want to ask.

  • What are my objectives for this piece of technology and will this product help me achieve those objectives?
  • What is my budget?
  • Does my broker, MLS, or Association have any agreements with any vendors that might help me obtain this product at a discount or for free?
  • Does this product work with my current computer operating system?
  • What kind of customer service and training programs are available? Are there webinars and, if so, are they recorded so you can view them at any time? Is the vendor's online help sufficient? What are the telephone support hours?
  • Is this technology Web-based? If it is, how much functionality will be available when the tool is being used offline.
  • Will it work on my iPad or other mobile device?

After you've asked and answered these questions, you can get down to the CRM-specific questions:

  • How easy is it to import my contacts from my email and other programs that I use?
  • Is there an iPhone or Android app that will allow me to sync contacts from my Smartphone? What other functionality is available with the Smartphone app?
  • Is there a social component to this CRM that allows me to track what my contacts are doing on social networks?
  • Does this CRM support drip email campaigns?
  • Is there a newsletter marketing component?
  • How flexible is the branding of the application?
  • Will this CRM provide me with the ability to easily absorb leads from my agent website or listing syndication plan?
  • What happens if I no longer want the product? How do I extract my data?
  • Does it integrate with popular transaction management solutions? If so, which ones?
  • Does it integrate with document management solutions? If so, which ones?
  • Does it have an integrated signature solution? If so, which?
  • How does it handle notifications when there is activity in my CRM? Will I receive texts or emails when something happens (push notifications) or do I have to log in to the CRM to get notifications (pull notifications)?

Your Options

For more information on these options, download our 2013 Technology Guidedownload our 2013 Technology Guide. Here are three leading companies that offer CRMs for real estate.

  • Tribus: Built by agents, specifically for agents, the Tribus CRM is rich in features for brokers and agents.
  • Top Producer: Manage your contacts with built-in coaching that will help you move more effectively from a new lead to a closed sale.
  • Wise Agent: Gaining rave reviews for customer service and functionality, Wise Agent helps real estate agents build and maintain relationships

Next Steps