By Amy Chorew
The multiple roles that a real estate professional performs on a daily basis have remained, for the most part, unchanged over the years. What has changed is how information is delivered and exchanged.
From cloud computing to social networks, clients are looking to real estate professionals to make use of tools and technology that take the stress out of the transaction process. Creating a well-organized and strategic way to integrate technology into your business is an important factor when considering your overall marketing strategy.
Below are six technology tools invaluable to the real estate industry as a whole and your personal business in particular. Not only can these tools benefit your business and your clients, but they will simplify your life as well.
1. Tablet computing
The iPad, a tablet computer operated by touch, has an enviable future in the real estate industry. Prior to the iPad, we were juggling multiple devices, including a smartphone and laptop. The iPad streamlines our everyday tasks and simplifies many of the typical responsibilities each real estate professional faces.
This portable device is perfect for real estate and can be used in many situations you might not have considered until now. A few situations where your iPad would come in handy:
• Open Houses
Rather than the old school paper version, consider having your visitors sign in on your iPad. You can also offer the option to receive e-mails or your latest newsletter.
At the end of the open house, send an e-mail thanking them for attending with any pertinent follow-up links. It is a simple way to capture potential leads and an easy way to add them to your customer relationship manager and stay in touch going forward.
• Listing presentations
Create a simple listing presentation and share your key marketing points from your tablet. Once you schedule a face-to-face meeting, walk potential sellers through the presentation and then e-mail a copy of the presentation along with all other marketing collateral at the end of the meeting.
2. Communication tools
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have transformed the way we communicate. Whether it is a message from our friends or business associates, we have moved much of our interaction from the phone or email to online. This is a definite paradigm shift in how business is conducted.
We no longer rely on one form of communication. From 140 characters on Twitter to quick text messages, we now look to short, simple ways to reply and engage.
3. Cloud computing
Cloud computing has revolutionized the way we do business. The ability to store, manage and process data in an online network has improved our productivity and increased our capacity to collaborate.
Google has a free set of cloud computing tools that real estate professionals incredibly helpful. Many use Google Calendar as an easy way to map out their day and then sync that data across multiple devices. Google Drive, formerly Google Docs, is an excellent way for teams to collaborate and stay up-to-date on projects. Visit www.google.com/docs to set up an account.
Two additional resources would be DropBox or Box.net. Each works in the background, making mirror image copies of all of your documents as you change or create them.
4. Mobile applications
We are on the threshold of a new era in mobile device usage that will change how we market and advertise. It is estimated that by 2014, both mobile Internet searches and use will surpass desktop usage.
It is critical that real estate brokerages have mobile sites, not just an optimized or mobile-compliant site as consumers demand this capability.
Visit an interactive mobile site analysis at www.howtogomo.com to determine if your website is mobile-enabled. Then visit your website or your company’s website with your smartphone. Does your website recognize the browser? Does it know you are visiting from a mobile device and creating a mobile experience?
Just like making sure your website shows up properly in Internet Explorer or Firefox, you should be showing up properly on all the mobile browsers as well.
5. Workable CRM
As it becomes more expensive to reach prospects, effectively pursue deals and close business, an effective way to manage that lead is vital.
Warm, well-qualified leads are difficult to unearth, so we need an easy-to-use system to stay in touch with these leads. Successful selling is based on business relationships. This means that relationship-focused sales representatives need more than an e-mail to gather and share information. Consider moving to a Contact Relationship Manager,or “CRM” to create a meaningful connection.
A CRM is a way to:
• Track past and current clients.
• Create calendar tasks, to-do lists and important appointments.
• Organize an ongoing follow-up campaign for prospects.
• Coordinate target marketing and drip campaigns. Utilize transaction management to track each step of the buying and selling process.
As marketers, we are always looking for that silver bullet — the one system or tool that will solve all of our communication problems. While automation is beneficial, it is only a complementary solution to human interaction. As our world continues to move at a faster pace than ever before, we have the tendency as marketers to automate everything we possibly can. This is a huge strategic error in converting leads.
Automatic responses and drip systems will assist in keeping you in front of your prospect but will never build relationships the way simply picking up the phone can. As you build your follow-up system, make sure weekly calls are part of your strategy. Intersperse calls with e-mails, direct mail and any social media campaigns.
As you research and evaluate new tools and systems, always make sure that it not only simplifies your life and business, but provides a better overall experience for your customers.
Amy Chorew is the Vice President of Platform Development at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate.
To read this article on Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s blog, “Clean Slate,” click here.
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