Do You Use CRM? - AM Open House

Do you use Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

I am an avid CRM user; because with a CRM I can control workflow and assign tasks. In other words, get something done, and feel accomplished in the process! In this post, I will be reviewing some of the top CRM companies and what the pros and cons are for each of them. Each CRM is specific to real estate and all of them have their own twist on what they think you need.

Top Producer CRM

Top Producer is my CRM of choice. It is what I have been using for years. I originally started using it because another agent in my office was using it and I thought I could better manage my customers, sellers, and information with it. It has a really quick learning curve and you can start to propagate your information fairly quickly.

Pros:
You can easily make your own email templates, newsletters, tasks, follow up calls, and manage your listings and closings. The format of Top Producer is really simple. If you can look at a webpage, you can easily use this CRM.

Follow up is where Top Producer takes the cake for me. The automated newsletters you can write as well as templates for certain types of contacts is huge. For instance, with an Open House sign in, you can generate a series of 3-7 emails that are automatically sent out for you without the need to do anything else. The system will replace the names if there are multiple people on the list and each email can be set to send at a certain time without you doing anything. This is great if you want to send an email 1 day later, 7 days later, or once a month for 6 months. It will keep you top of mind and let the customer know you are thinking about them without you having to lift a finger (or click a mouse).

Easily integrate with a ton of companies like Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com, Boomtown.com, Homes.com, AMOpenHouse.com, and many more. Additionally, it works with Google Drive and Dropbox for photos and files that can easily be attached to your leads.

With Top Producer, you can also be social. They have integrated Facebook and Twitter which allows posts directly through the CRM.

Cons:
Yearly contract! Really guys? I understand you want to keep me locked in for as long as possible, but this is just crazy. They do not offer a free trial either. At $39.95 a month, you’re still in for almost $480 just to try and see if you like it.

The monthly newsletter that should be sent to all of your contacts comes with yet another price tag. It is called “Market Snapshot” and the price has changed numerous times. It’s comprehensive, but seems ridiculous to me to have to continue to pay more and more for the functionality that you really need in a real estate CRM.

No native iOS® or Android™ mobile app. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they don’t have native apps. I can understand a mobile site for unsupported platforms, like Windows Mobile™ and Blackberry®, but being that iOS® and Android™ have such a huge market share with Realtors®, it is baffling to me.

Connectivity:
You have to pay to add your MLS to the system. It’s $149. Adding this up with a 6 month trial, and MLS connection, you’re at $630 your first 12 months for a CRM. The bright side here is that it is actually one of the few CRMs that actually does connect to your MLS. While the information is not perfect that it receives (at least in my market) it is definitely better than having to re-load the entire listing into yet another place.

IXACT Contact CRM

IXACT Contact is a great product for real estate agents across the country. They have leveraged information obtained by agents to build an extremely powerful CRM and they offer an amazing amount of functionality for a seemingly low price compared to other companies.

Pros:
Friendly user dashboard. Easy icons and information right at your fingertips which allows the learning curve on this one to be very quick. Within a few hours, you can be up and running with multiple campaigns, your contacts uploaded, and automated newsletters going out for you without doing anything else.

Listing/closing/buyer activity plans. This is great for agents and brokers alike. As an agent, when I take a listing, I must provide my broker with the forms for the listing, disclosures, pictures, etc. I also have to put up a sign and send out postcards. With this system, you can make an auto-generated task list that will ensure you never forget anything. This will help you tremendously as you receive more listings. You can also generate a list of separate tasks for those buyers in which offers have been placed or accepted. With each task list comes different obstacles that you must complete in order to get to the closing table. They have really simplified this and allowed you to make the list that works best for you.

Email campaigns are easy with IXACT. A great added feature is that you can get reports on the emails you send as if you were using another email program like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. It’s always nice to know your open rate, bounce rate, and click rate. It allows you to provide better content and view direct results.

For new agents, they offer a 6 month free trial. For seasoned agents, they offer a 5 week free trial. This is a great move on their part as it allows you to play with the CRM and get comfortable with it before you ever have to pay a penny.

Cons:
There is no way to customize the information you see on the screen. Each user has the exact same layout and while some things may not apply to everyone, you cannot remove them from your dashboard. I anticipate they will make this change in the future, but for now, it’s static.

No social integration. I can’t imagine they don’t get requests for social integration all the time. This would be a feature that should be standard on every CRM today. For whatever reason, they are currently not supporting it.

3rd party integration – in order to integrate with third parties, you must provide that party with your direct IXACT contact email address. If the information is not read or formatted correctly, your lead could be lost forever. I am a fan of being able to use an API to sync contacts across different applications, but it is simply not possible…yet.

Propertybase CRM

Propertybase was built on the Salesforce system. With that being said, the people who developed it did an amazing job. They cater specifically to real estate agents (residential and commercial), developers, and brokers. Since it’s built on Salesforce, there are a number of apps that you can add-on to this system to really make it work for you. This CRM is for teams or entire companies. It is designed for brokers to be able to manage a massive amount of information quickly and easily. If you are running a brokerage, this is a very powerful tool.

Pros:
Built on an extremely easy to use and functional platform: While this system really is just the meat and potatoes, the ability to add other functionality via way of apps is a great feature. This is for the more advanced user who is willing to put in a good amount of time to learn and use.

Easily manage your contacts from anywhere. This is a web based solution that is also mobile friendly. Propertybase also allows you to generate forms for your site or landing pages that will automatically be added to the Propertybase database.

Cons:
Like with Top Producer, they require a yearly billing cycle. Unlike Top Producer, they require a minimum of 4 agents to sign up as a team and to pay for the service upfront at $59 per user, per month.

There is a huge learning curve for someone that is not tech savvy. You will need to incorporate many add-ons in order to make this CRM functional for you.

How AM Open House comes into play:

In our quest to under promise and over deliver, we have fully integrated with the three above CRMs. We wrote in a post last week about the Top Producer integration, but came through with much more than just that. We have made it a point to make your life as easy as possible and to try and cut back on all the busy work. In order to integrate with any or all of the above CRMs, log in to your account and click the CRM button at the top. It will ask you to provide the information we need to integrate your leads automatically. The system automatically updates every 15 minutes. This feature will be available for current and new subscribers on our website 8/8/14.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected]. We respond to every single email, no matter how small or big the question is.

CEO and Founder of AM Open House

Posted in Blog

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