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RISMEDIA, August 6, 2011—As real estate professionals, one of our most valuable assets is our database—and one of most important things we do as agents and brokers is to build and maintain that database. It is critical, therefore, to utilize a high-quality contact manager or customer relationship management (CRM) application to assist with that task.

The problem is, there are so many CRM companies out there claiming to have “the one and only best solution,” that it can get confusing. Many do an OK job, some do a good job, and a few do a great job. So, how do you decide which CRM is right for you?

Does this sound familiar? You’ve just gotten used to using your most recently purchased CRM application and you attend a seminar where the speaker tells you all about the “latest and greatest” CRM that you’ve just “got to have” if you want to be successful. It’s enough to drive a person crazy, not to mention making you question the value of your current system.

Well, let me set your mind at ease. The biggest mistake an agent can make is to be constantly changing CRMs looking for the oh-so-illusive perfect system. The key to getting value from your database is what you DO with it, not which one you own. Yes, there are a few key features that every CRM should have, but for the most part it has way more to do with whether you are using it effectively.

Here are some of those key features that you’ll need as a real estate agent:
• Manage both people and properties
• Launch action or activity plans
• Track listings and closings
• Launch large-scale printed or email campaigns
• Track and manage leads (very few do this well)
• Sync with your Smartphone (or at least be accessible online via the web)
• For teams, each team member must have separate access and tracking (everyone can’t use the same login because it makes the information useless to the team leader)

There are other cool features, like social media connectivity and automatic importing of listings, but for the most part, the majority of extra bells and whistles just cause more confusion and create an environment that is overwhelming to most agents. Again, it’s not the features that matter the most; it’s what you do with the people in your database and how you manage those relationships.

Here are a few tips that will help you connect and convert more of your prospects into clients and your past clients into new customers, regardless which CRM you are using:

• Reconnect with everyone in your database by calling them all 3-4 times a year. That may sound like a lot of work, but it’s one of the most productive things you can do, and make no mistake about it, it absolutely is a money-making activity.

• At the conclusion of each call, schedule the next activity. It is best if you launch them on an action plan like one of Dave Beson’s LetterWriter systems that will touch them for the next 7-10 years, automatically.

• Take great notes of what is important to them. Their children, their pets, golf, or whatever you can find you have in common to build a relationship of trust.

• Make sure you know the details of their current property and track the features. (This allows you to search your own database when you have a new buyer.)

• Track birthdays and key events like the anniversary date of their last home purchase, then send them a greeting card on that date, or just give them a call. This activity will pay huge dividends.

• Make sure you ask each relationship how they prefer to be communicated with, email, postal mail, phone, text message or social media sites, and then honor their request.

The bottom line is this: Most real estate-specific CRMs or contact managers will work fine, and the one you already own is probably adequate. But you must use it and apply the basic fundamentals of relationship management for any of them to work.

When it comes to working your database, my advice is simply this: Listen more than you speak, be authentic with your communication, and get to work. If your system does not do what you feel it should, make a list of key features and critical things you care about then start the demo process. Don’t switch until you have tried the new system and are 100% confident it will do what you need it to do, then focus on doing the right things with your system that will turn your database into the money-making machine it should be.

A founding partner of Pinnacle Quest Consulting, Verl Workman has been educating, motivating and training sales associates, entrepreneurs, and real estate agents worldwide for more than 20 years. For more information, please visit