An Arizona brokerage is providing agents with a complete technology package, from recommendations and websites to CRM and lead routing, to improve client service levels and agent productivity…and it’s working!
VP of Marketing and Branding
Years in real estate: 10
You recently put together a technology package for your agents. How long has this been in the works, and what prompted you to initiate this? It’s been on our minds since our company launch in August 2014; however, it was the most challenging piece of the core concept behind the company because there were so many moving parts involved. Other things, like training, were easy. With the tech package, we had to get a lot of partners and products in place. So while it’s taken a lot longer, it’s been in mind from the beginning.
What growth potential does this bring on the individual agent level? As far as our agents go, it’s not just a production thing; it’s a productivity thing. Before we started choosing which systems to incorporate into the firm, we surveyed our agents. I knew we had a lot of agents who weren’t actively keeping a database, and they didn’t have a marketing or follow-up strategy. That was a big awakening. At the time of the survey, we had about 130 agents, and less than 20 had a dedicated CRM practice in their business system that they used daily. Now that we’ve incorporated Top Producer into the mix, we’re seeing increased lead follow-up, more leads coming through the system, and less leads dropping.
How will you support this and train your agents? We do pretty intensive in-house training. For training on this specific product, we relied on the Top Producer team, and they’ve been fabulous. As far as leveraging everything together and showing our agents how Top Producer ties to their new agent website, that training we’re doing in-house. A lot of this training will center on getting agents to understand the mindset as much as the “click here” part. We’re letting our solution provider handle the “click here” part, while we focus on the mindset and strategy side.
Do your agents pay a fee? They do, but it’s under $100 per month. The total value if they were to buy each piece on their own would be somewhere close to $600 per month, so it’s a phenomenal value for the agents.
I noticed that lead distribution systems were in the mix. What results are you expecting for new inquiries? From a brokerage perspective, we have two concerns, the first of which involves making sure our internal leads are being taken care of and that we follow through. The Top Producer system gives us that. We’re also concerned about how well our agents are doing, whether it’s a company-generated lead or not. We want to know that when a consumer contacts our agents, they get outstanding service. A lead falling through the cracks is a failure. We have a very collaborative culture at BloomTree, so now our individual agents can decide where to send their leads if they can’t respond, which has gone a long way toward reinforcing our culture.
How does the CRM integrate into your longer-term lead-to-customer strategy, and what behavior does it prompt? Everybody knows that leads on first contact are likely not going to be ready to buy. A lot of the time they’re in the maybe phases and haven’t thought the full process through. But what often happens with these leads is that agents have a very short attention span. If the lead doesn’t convert, they move on and forget the maybes. We try to teach our agents about why they need to keep in touch, and not just with their sphere of influence, but with the leads that aren’t ready yet. The CRM side of this was really critical. When we’re talking about lead nurturing, it’s a combo of staying in touch and also building a relationship. They need to be able to cross-channel between Top Producer and social media and email. For agents wanting to build a hub-and-spoke-type marketing model, they can do this with Top Producer. It’s very user-friendly.
Is staying in touch with customers and responding faster to new ones going to have an effect on your brand and reputation? We’re very focused on making sure the client is taken care of. It’s one of our company foundations. At the core, we want to serve clients the absolute best we can, so we have to bring in and grow the best agents to do that job. Our new package fits perfectly with this initiative.
Did your agents have input on what you have ultimately selected for your technology program? Each one of us on the leadership team took our niche. Our VP of Opportunity and Agent Happiness is a systems person. She knows a good CRM inside and out, so she pulled the systems in her arena. I was looking at marketing, like RealSatisfied. We each vetted a whole bunch of systems and came together to look at them. From there, we created a master list that we took to our agent council to show them what we were thinking. We got a lot of great feedback, which we then fine-tuned.
Are your agents excited? Do you anticipate that they’ll also get a return on their investment? They’re very anxious and excited. Because there are so many moving parts, some of which are challenging for those who’ve never used a CRM before, we’ve been doing a scaled roll-in. We announced the launch in January, and we’ve been putting together bits and pieces at a time—TourFactory first, then RealSatisfied, then Top Producer and FiveStreet. The agents understand that each piece is a sum of the whole, and have been very anxious about getting their websites. Adoption has been good, and their attitudes have been great. We’re seeing a lot of agents stepping up to help one another.
Did you get help from the Top Producer folks on your implementation, or did you more or less go it alone? They were a godsend. They kept us on track, they told us what they needed by when, and they really took the ball and ran with it. They obviously know their product best, so having their expert touch through the process was fabulous. When we launched, they came into our biggest office and did live training.
How important is your technology package when it comes to recruiting? We don’t do a lot of heavy recruiting, but we’re still growing very quickly, mainly by attraction. Agents recommend their friends to our company. Word gets out. We’ve had several agents come on board through this process, and the feedback from them has been phenomenal.
How can agents add content to the infrastructure you set up to communicate with customers and expand their overall reach? They have full reign. Their website is a BloomTree-branded template, but they can add and edit their own pages, or even do a blog if they want. It’s fully-functioning and each one is stand-alone. We aren’t forcing them into a company system. We don’t want agents to feel like they’re being held hostage. They can do their own email marketing. Top Producer has a lot of great templates for that.
How will you measure success? Productive agents. It’s still very early, so we’ll be watching our production-per-agent. We train a lot of new agents, so we’re splitting the agent base to see how the seasoned agents are doing versus how fast the new ones are coming up. When I started in real estate, I was in a big-box brand as a new agent, and I wish I’d had something like this. As much as this has been an investment in our company and our agents, it’s also been a labor of love.
To learn more about these technologies and ways to implement them for success, click here.