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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD).

Most agents use a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage information and interactions about leads and clients. A CRM system allows you to work with your hot, warm, and cold leads in an organized system.

Key Questions to Ask When Evaluating a CRM
So, what questions do you need to ask when choosing a CRM system?

Scale – How powerful of a system do you need or want? What do you want it to do? Having an idea of the extent and kind of functionality you’re looking for in advance is helpful, as is knowing how many users you want it to support—just yourself, or a brokerage with dozens of agents (now or in the future).

Cost – A higher monthly CRM subscription fee may make perfect sense once you have an understanding and have calculated the ROI of using it. How much more productive will the software help you be? So that you don’t get surprised with hidden charges or upcharges, though, make sure to ask about and thoroughly understand the specifics of the pricing model.

Longevity – How long has the vendor been around? Have the bugs been worked out? If the vendor is newer, can you get in early, perhaps at a lower price, and assist with refining the direction of the CRM system, giving advice and feedback to improve it in return for a discounted price, a premium subscription, or other agreed-upon benefits?

Email Interaction – Do you have to use the vendor’s embedded email client, or can you still use Microsoft Outlook or Gmail? Do you have to bounce from your email service provider to your CRM system and back, or can they be integrated? The Outlook interface is most common for integrations, but more and more programs are embracing Gmail.

Support – When considering CRM systems, make it a point to call the vendor’s tech support to see how the representatives do assisting you. Just because a company offers 24/7 support doesn’t mean it can solve your problems within those parameters. Is the extra cost really worth it?

Phone Syncing – Does the CRM system sync with your phone? Not all CRM systems do. The best option is to use the phone’s existing software rather than loading the vendor’s software. Your phone’s contact software will sync the information from your CRM system. You really don’t want to have to go online with the phone—it’s impractical.

CRM databases provide numerous other conveniences for real estate agents. Each solution is a bit different, so assess your own CRM needs and compare them against what the market has to offer.

There are many options on the market that aren’t real estate-specific, so do your due diligence, ask around for recommendations, and determine which works best for your own unique marketing and sales needs.

It might turn out that the CRM solution that is best for you is not specifically a real estate product, so keep an open mind when shopping around.

Alternatives to CRMs
Although they offer fewer features than CRM software, even tools like Evernote can capture information about leads and organize notes and information about them very effectively. A Google or Excel spreadsheet, or even Outlook, can be used as a database to capture information about leads.

Whatever tool you use should allow you to sort leads into categories. Your spreadsheet can be used in conjunction with other applications, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, to generate targeted email messages.

You can maintain checklists and calendars using your Google account, Evernote, or other applications to remind you of how often to perform specific tasks. The specific tool is less important than the information you collect and what you’re able to do with it.

For more about CRM tools and how to track, nurture, and convert leads, check out our featured product this month at the Center for REALTOR® Development, the BRAND NEW Generating Buyer and Seller Leads online course, which is an elective for REBAC’s ABR® designation and is on sale this entire month of July at 15% off.

For more information, please visit

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