Updated: Nov 7, 2021
I went to a two-day conference at the end of 2019 to learn from a so-called “guru” how to improve and grow my real estate business. My eyes were glued to him – I was hanging on every word he said.
Until he said, “You don’t need technology to run your real estate business.”
That’s when I realized I might have spent a lot of money for nothing.
We live in a wonderful time with so much cool tech that can help you run your business more smoothly and with a lot less stress. Now is the time to embrace technology and put it to work for you.
Managing your contact list is the perfect place to implement the best technology has to offer. If you want to automate some systems and keep your contacts and future clients organized so you can stay top-of-mind, then you need a great CRM to help you do that.
What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. And it does exactly as its name implies – manages your relationships with the people in your contact list. CRMs are not limited to the real estate industry. They’re in practically any industry that has to manage relationships with clients and prospects.
There are some awesome CRMs out there specifically designed to do things that only real estate agents need.
But what you’re looking for is a good platform that will help you run your business, manage your tasks, and help keep you on top of your contacts. A good CRM will help you fill your pipeline and make the work of nurturing your connections easy.
Tons of Options
When I first got into real estate, I already knew about CRMs and how they worked. But I had no idea which one to choose for my real estate business. I didn’t even have a list yet. So, I checked out several, used their 7-day trials, and just played with them to see which one “fit.”
First, there are several big CRM companies that are not specific to real estate. Salesforce is probably the most widely known. I’ve also used Sugar CRM.
Both of these platforms give you many options to manage your business, including your real estate business. They help you keep your pipeline moving forward, help keep you on top of your daily tasks, remind you of important phone calls and meetings, and let you take notes on each contact.
But several CRMs are specific to the real estate industry that, I think, do an even better job. Plus, they’re a little easier to set up and get started because there are fewer features for you to deal with. Simple equals faster.
I started my CRM exploration with Market Leader. I was at Keller Williams, and ML was provided, along with a website. Leads are automatically added to your CRM and set up on a drip campaign. I love the automation and the speed to lead factor.
The biggest issue for me with Market Leader is the website they provide. They host it on their platform, there’s almost no customization, and you have zero control over it. Your website ends up looking exactly like everyone else’s, so there’s no way to stand out.
Also, if you decide to leave your brokerage, you can’t take it with you. So, you will end up having to start over with your SEO rankings and rebuild your online presence.
Take a Test Drive
I moved to a small boutique brokerage and had the opportunity to try out several different CRMs. I started out testing Wise Agent, Follow Up Boss, and Lion Desk all at the same time. I had heard good things about all three of them, so I tried them all out. They’re all pretty close to the same, with a few exceptions.
Wise Agent is a great platform. It does all the things – integrations, drip campaigns, email marketing, transaction management, and texting. And it’s extremely affordable at just $29 per month. It comes with a 14-day free trial that I highly recommend.
Follow Up Boss works very similarly to Wise Agent. It has many of the same features – integrations with many other software systems, drip campaigns already loaded that you can use, email templates, texting, including group texting, transaction management, and more.
It’s a little more expensive than Wise Agent at $69 per month, but I found it to be a lot more user-friendly. Follow Up Boss also features a 14-day free trial, so you can give it a test run before you commit.
Lion Desk is also a great platform, and many of my fellow realtors® and even coaches use it. Lion Desk has all the bells and whistles, including an A.I. bot that pre-qualifies your leads for you. That’s a pretty cool feature to showcase on a real estate CRM platform.
And Lion Desk is simple to get started at just $25 per month. You can easily set it up and grow it into a bigger plan as your business increases.
After I settled on one CRM for a bit, I learned about a couple of other platforms that I checked out. I signed up for Realvolve, which I had heard great things about from one of my coaches. And at $49 per month, it seemed like a good move. It really does have All. The. Things.
But for me, that was the biggest problem. I paid for this CRM for several months while feeling completely overwhelmed by it. It requires a TON of set up, and there’s a pretty hefty learning curve to using it. So, I ended up canceling it without ever using it once.
Realvolve offers a 14-day trial. I think they need a longer trial, maybe 30 days, to really see if it will work for your level of knowledge. The learning curve is pretty steep, and 14 days may not be long enough to know if it’s right for you. I recommend getting a live person to help you get it up and running if you choose to check them out.
EngageMore CRM came along, and I was excited to try it out. I switched my business over to this CRM for several months and gave it a pretty good test-run. It featured landing pages that I eagerly set up and tested out. This CRM is still growing and improving, but I found it to be a bit clunky, so I switched back to my previous CRM.
But as EngageMore continues to improve its user interface, it could become pretty powerful. Their plans start at $69 per month, and you can take advantage of their 14-day trial to test it out first.
Choosing a CRM That Works for You
There are several other CRMs that I didn’t get to test out – Contactually, Property Base, Top Producer, Ixact Contact, HubSpot – to name a few. And with the industry evolving the way it is, more amazing platforms are created every week.
The best way to pick the right CRM for your business is to check them out. See which one fits your needs and go with it. A CRM is only as great as the person using it. It won’t do you any good if you’re not taking advantage of all the things it can do for you and your business.
So, try one out. See how you like it. If it works, then stick with it. If it doesn’t do anything for you, then move on to a different one. There is no right or wrong answer here. You just need to find the one that works for you.
And you can bet that as your business grows, so will your needs. Right now, you may not be thinking about drip campaigns or transaction management. But you might need it six months or a year from now. You don’t have to figure it all out today. As your needs grow, you can check out new software that will fill those needs.
You’ll most likely change your mind a lot at first. That’s totally ok. I did too. But if I had it all to do over again, I would make sure to take full advantage of the free trials. Don’t let them lapse without really seeing what the platforms can do.
Then, just pick the one you like best.