Is Real Estate Finally Ready To Embrace CRM?

Learning to Love Your CRM Investment

If you aren’t already using a CRM system, then you aren’t alone…but you are in the minority.  In a recent survey conducted by REAL Trends in partnership with Boston Logic, 72.5% of all surveyed real estate agents had a CRM system in place and 69.4% of all surveyed brokerages offered their agents a CRM system.

When you stop to think about it, it sounds pretty basic. Sales engagement technology is ubiquitous, which for those who prefer pen and paper, technology can feel like a dirty word. Just hearing the phrase “There’s an app for that” can make us cringe. We declare, “Well, I don’t need an app for that.” And maybe that’s true. Maybe you don’t need technology to help you manage business, maybe Excel spreadsheets work just fine, but relationship marketing is no passing fad and in our ever-increasing digital age, if you want to compete then you most certainly do need an app for that, and to compete you must begin to leverage your CRM and use marketing automation to nurture your leads.

When it comes to CRM systems, early stigma associated with them persists, especially in the real estate industry. Reluctant adopters may think they are clunky or cumbersome or don’t add any value, but CRM systems have come a long way. For instance, gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all approach. Today’s real estate broker and agent, can choose from several different real estate-specific CRM systems.  They are designed to address the real estate industry’s specific needs and challenges.  And CRMs are backed by customer service teams who are well versed in the real estate industry. Yet, regardless of how far CRM systems have come brokers and agents alike are reluctant to fully adopt them.

Here are three of the main reasons why brokers and real estate agents resist CRM systems and why they might want to reconsider.

“I don’t know where to start.”

The paralysis of choice is no laughing matter, especially when trying something new. Whether you’re experimenting with sushi or purchasing a CRM, it is always helpful to have a guide.  Some features of CRM systems are must-haves while others are nice-to-haves. Knowing the difference can help whittle down the options and get your business what it needs. Additionally, the CRM needs of brokers and owners differ from the CRM needs of real estate agents. Brokers and owners tend to be more focused on measuring the ROI of their advertising spend and effectiveness of their teams in closing sales.  Real estate agents are more interested in amassing quality leads while simplifying and streamlining their day-to-day.  Many in both groups still do not feel the CRM provides the actionable insights they need.

As reported by the REAL Trends report, several key factors impact a broker’s decision to purchase a real estate-specific CRM over others used by other industries:

  1. Configuration vs. Customization. Most large, non-real estate specific CRM systems have the ability to change their configuration through apps or plugins for a nominal cost. However, when it comes to customizations outside of the box is can be far more costly and time-consuming.
  2. MLS Feeds. Many non-real estate CRM systems are not geared to accept an MLS feed and thus require manual entry of listing data to market listings.
  3. Lead Routing. This is not often found as a standard feature, and most real estate brokers will pay more to enable advanced lead routing capabilities.
  4. Many non-real estate specific CRM systems are built by large, multi-vertical organizations where online knowledge bases, customer-driven support communities, and video tutorials are the primary support method. In most cases, paid support programs or submitting tickets into a queue are the only alternative solutions.
  5. In some cases, such as with Salesforce, the cost can be prohibitive depending on the size of the brokerage. With those that are built to service a wider price point, like Infusionsoft, you are still combating the after costs to adapt the system for real estate. This can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

When shopping for a CRM, start by making a list of the features you want. Then filter those wants into needs—your must-haves—and finally, rank those needs by priority. When you review a CRM’s product details make sure the CRM offers what you need and excels in that area.

An easy way to see if a CRM system is all it’s cracked up to be is by reading consumer reviews on software sites such as Capterra and Software Advice. A company such as Gartner, which provides data-driven insights into products and services, can also aid in your decision. Additionally, many real estate CRM software systems such as FollowUpBoss, Contactually and WiseAgent offer free trials, so you can familiarize yourself with different CRM interfaces and decide which one best suits your needs before spending a dime.

Once you decide on a CRM, go ahead and bolster it by integrating lead generation sources, such as Zillow, Homes.com, and Trulia. These real estate search engines can help you find qualified leads, which you can then nurture using your CRM system.

“I don’t see the value.”

Brokerages who rely on Excel or Gmail for daily tasks, may overlook the comprehensive value of a CRM system. To a broker looking to improve ROI and an agent looking for qualified leads, a CRM system may appear redundant if they use a 3rd party ISA or unnecessary. If you are already manually doing what a CRM system promises to do and do not know how to leverage the value of a CRM, the question becomes: Why purchase a product I don’t need? For starters, CRMs do a lot more than manage contacts and produce reports. Take relationship marketing for example.

Relationship marketing is at the top CRM feature noted by both brokers and real estate agents. Which should come as no surprise considering the Uber-ization and Amazon-zation of today’s consumer. The proptech industry is not excused from the “show me you know me” consumer culture.  People not only want to be treated as individuals but expect to be.  Plus, when a tech-enabled agent can be alerted to a motivated buyer, and respond immediately to begin a personalized sales conversation.  The positive impact to their close rates shouldn’t be ignored.


According to REAL Trends’ report, 96% of brokers whose agents actively use a CRM, felt their teams were more productive.  How productive?  Those brokers showed a 26% increase in transaction sides over those who did not.

So, to realize the value of their CRM, and drive agent adoption, brokers must consider other factors to overcome hurdles: 

  1. Make sure day-to-day processes and lead flow can happen automatically. This is key to reducing the amount of time it takes to manage activities within your CRM system.
  2. Syncing with your email, mobile device, calendar, and more, is another way to reduce the time agents spend using a real estate CRM system. In fact, this might free up a lot of time in your calendar.
  3. Many top teams, agents, and brokerages are starting to leverage marketing assistants to aid in the implementation of real estate technology platforms. This is a great ROI-producing strategy, and a retention tool for progressive brokerages that understand the busy schedule of top producing agents.

The software tools can take care of this for you.  But that personalized outreach relies on robust data about your leads. Many late adopters note the clunky way lead qualification data is input into a CRM, often noting the time involved in doing so.  They can benefit from software such as Connect Now where information can be qualified and automatically loaded into a CRM within minutes. Building an accurate lead database can help agents build long-term relationships with their customers, clients, and sales prospects.  It monitors their preferences and your business’s interactions with them in real time.

CRM systems make it easier to identify which prospects fit your ideal customer profile. This, in turn, makes it easier for you to share relevant information with them.  It avoids bombarding them with irrelevant messages, and saves you from investing time and money on bad leads. And all of this gives agents the necessary insight to engage with their leads in a way that satisfies their individual needs.  And that ultimately satisfies brokers and owners as it paves the way to more closing sales.

“I don’t have the time.”

Think of it this way: Take time today to leverage your CRM and you’ll have more time tomorrow to do, well, whatever you want. That’s because if there’s one thing a CRM system does, and does well, it’s free up time. By speeding up the initial data entry for leads, by providing qualification details, by storing all data in one easy to access place, you will enable better marketing automation.  You will also have more time to invest in areas of your business that have fallen by the wayside or have never been nurtured at all.

Many CRM systems also offer robust onboarding customer support. Look for this type of support when choosing a CRM.  Concierge services will help take the pain out of transitioning to a new software.  They also help you get the most of your investment and drive value from the CRM tools.

A good CRM system is one that works for you and does more than record contact names and important dates. A good CRM will help to identify qualified leads and boost lead conversion. Adopting a CRM system may seem overwhelming or unnecessary for real estate, but it is an industry best practice.  If you want to compete, then it is your industry must-have.

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