Real estate CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is a must-have for any agency that wants to compete in the modern world. The benefits go far beyond quick and easy access to your client data. Now, CRMs have become so brainy they can automate plenty of the administrative grunt work, foster better follow-up, track KPIs, manage financials and commissions, boost your prospecting reach - the list goes on. Think of them as less of a database, and more of a personal assistant.

But as fantastic as CRMs are, it can be hard to decide on the right one for your agency. There are now around half a billion fractionally different models out there, with another two or three million being launched every week. Personally, I struggle to decide which variety of toothpaste I want, let alone pluck the right CRM to run my entire business out of this almost infinite hat. So how do you make the right decision?

There are a few factors you can look for to separate the wheat from the chaff. While most CRMs usually have similar standard sets of identical functionality, not all will help take your real estate agency to the next level. Here are three things you need to take into consideration before you decide on which CRM is going to help boost your business now and in the future.

Mobility

A lot of agents think of CRMs as stuffy old relics from the Windows 95 era. Software that does nothing but anchor them to their desk. Fair enough. A lot of CRMs are exactly that and that lack of mobility can really get in the way of your agency’s productivity.

In fact, we surveyed 400 agents about their working habits outside of the office, and some of the results were pretty surprising. Turns out agents spend, on average, 60 per cent of their time out of the office. Yet only 27 per cent are really happy with how efficient they are when working remotely. ‘Why’, you ask? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that when we asked agents what information tools they take into the field, the most popular response was a ‘notepad and pen’.

If you're paying the big bucks for a great CRM to power your agency, you’re going to want to make sure that it’s accessible to agents for their full working day. The most valuable data is going to come from the interactions they have when they’re out and about - not sitting at their desks. Make sure the CRM you choose is cloud based, and has a mobile application.  

Integrations

Integrations allow software tools to ‘talk’ with one another. This is hugely beneficial. Let’s say you use something like Open House ID to register OFI attendances, for example. You don’t want to have to manually re-enter all those names and phone numbers into your database at the end of the day, do you?

Image: Open House ID

Image: Open House ID

Instead, choose a CRM that can integrate with other software tools. That way, it’ll be able to automate the tedious data entry for you.

Information from all the software tools you use every day - payroll tools, contract auto-fillers, CoreLogic, etc - can be shared back and forth with your database to seriously lighten the administration load you need to carry. Forms and contracts can be automatically filled out with the right information. Historical property data can be pulled into your CRM directly from PriceFinder or CoreLogic. The possibilities are endless.

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier, after all and what’s the point of a database if you can’t use the data in it easily? Make sure the CRM you choose can integrate with the other tools you already use.

Great user experience

While it might not be the first thing on your mind, the look and feel of the CRM you decide to go with is just as important as what it can do.

‘User experience’ is a new school of design spearheaded by the likes of Facebook and Google. Basically, it refers to the challenge of making sure the software’s interface is as easy and intuitive for the user as possible. After all, if people don't enjoy using your software - or find it difficult to understand - they’re quite frankly not going to bother at all. That’s a problem no amount of office memos is going to fix.

A great user experience is doubly important in a service industry like real estate. If you want to foster the best relationships with all your clients, you need to store a lot of data. If agents aren’t bothering to track their interactions with clients and leads because their database is confusing or ugly, invaluable insights are lost for good - and with them, potential business.

When you’re choosing your real estate CRM, you’re looking for a cross between Google and Helen of Troy. Make sure it’s something you’ll want to use everyday - not another chore.

For more tips and tools to boost your productivity take a look at the best CRMs for agents, what's new in real estate tech and seven handy apps for agents

Author bio:

Jackson Hills works for Rex; a real estate software company based in Brisbane. He writes about real estate technology, and how new tools can help agents stay relevant in a changing world. You can read more of his work on their blog.

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