“…Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
– Bill Gates, Microsoft
The goal of this is to act as a resource for investors who are deciding which software to use to manage their real estate business. We know there’s several options out there, but no comprehensive breakdown to help aid in your decision.
Choosing the right CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software may make the difference in helping you scale your business, but the wrong system for your specific way of operating may only serve to magnify the inefficiencies of your business.
Although our company InvestorFuse is one of those options, we understand the inherent bias in comparing our software against others.
That’s why we’re publishing this guide merely as an informational resource for the investment community, highlighting the factors and features that can make software work FOR you not against you.
We want you to weigh these factors and choose the product that best fits your specific way of doing deals.
Oh, and of course we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about InvestorFuse…just use the chat box below 🙂
Why do you need a CRM? What are you struggling with most in your business, and what do you foresee to be a challenge as you scale your marketing and start to close more deals?
It’s a great exercise to pinpoint the challenges present in your current operation and get clear with what you need to prioritize when deciding on buying a CRM product. Some of the questions you should ask yourself:
I’m sure you may agree to all of the above, but some tools can help more than others for each of these specific challenges, so you must isolate and prioritize exactly what you’re looking for and choose the system that best fixes those problems.
In this section we’ll discuss the factors to consider when deciding which CRM to purchase.
This is the most obvious…but how much does it cost relative to your budget? Is it a monthly rate or one-time fee? Is it “cheap” or does it reflect the value and ROI you plan on receiving from the tool?
Typically, it’s best to look for simple pricing models that give you access to everything the software has to offer. Many systems have tiered levels of pricing that restrict access to all the features of the software.
Free Trials vs. Guarantees:
Most products provide free trials in order to get more people in the door before billing. Others may not provide a free trial, but rather offer a money-back guarantee so that users may test the system out with full access and determine if the system is a fit through active use on real leads.
You will need to weigh how invested you are in systemizing your business, and if you opt for a free trial, make sure you at least invest your time to try it out. CRMs are meant to be used actively.
Since this is a team business, you’ll want to make sure each of your team members can have their own account within your system.
How did you hear about the system? Was it recommended to you from a reputable source? Make sure the team behind the tool is there for you. Speaking with other users of the system is a great way to validate this.
Using online groups or asking others at your local REIA is a great way to discuss which tool works best for others and if it would be a fit for you.
As investors, we need stuff working and we need it working now, so it’s important to work with a company that makes support a priority.
Make sure to look for advanced system documentation, a way to submit support tickets, fast turnaround time, training calls or webinars, and a company that makes it a point to help as much as possible as quickly as possible.
The system should include unlimited support and well as onboarding support to help you transition from an old system to your new one.
The more one-on-one the support system is, the better. We know from experience!
Since every business is different, you want to have a tool that is highly customizable. Adding modules for different parts or your business like birddogs or MLS offers, editing the way the fields are displayed, and being able to manipulate the “dashboard” or your system are all very important so you can make your CRM your own.
Each tool will have a “User Interface” with different flexibilities on what you can and cannot customize.
Typically, all CRMs in the REI space will be “in the cloud,” meaning you must login to a website in your browser to access your business info.
The platform may be “standalone,” meaning that their software is it’s own entity on its own website. Other tools, like InvestorFuse, may be built on existing CRMs like Podio.com.
The benefits of standalone platforms are that they are uniquely designed and supported on their own website. The benefits of building on existing proven CRM systems, like Podio, is the ability to add additional modules and customizations to the system that you couldn’t in a standalone system.
It’s a matter of preference and how flexible you need your CRM to be.
As the technology behind marketing automation and business process automation improves, more and more tools are released that can enhance the experience of your product, but only if the product has an “API,” which is a way you can integrate additional services into your platform.
Examples include integrating with Dropbox (file storage), Maillift (handwritten thank-you letter automation), or Zapier (a tool that helps you connect tools like the Podio CRM to many other cloud-based services to help you expand upon your platform as you grow).
Now we will discuss some of the more important features you will need to be aware of in order to maximize the benefits from using CRM technology.
The top CRMs will be able to help you manage different aspects of your investing business. The areas that can be most helped using CRM automation technology are your Lead Management and your Lead Generation.
You will see that some of the most important features are related to Lead Management, or the process of capturing leads and moving them through to a signed contract.
You need to determine which area is weakest in your current business and choose the CRM whose feature set will compensate for this weakness.
Simply put, this is ability for all inbound leads from every possible source to funnel into your system automatically. Different mediums such as inbound phone calls, website form submissions, Patlive form submissions, and manually entered leads should all be built in to the system.
The fortune is in the follow-up, but only if it’s systemized! Simple follow-up systems include the ability to schedule a simple follow-up task that will pop into your system at a later date.
More advanced features include automated follow-up sequences utilizing multiple communication channels.
CRMs should replace tools like email and texting from your phone. Communication between each of your sellers, buyers, your team, and your company contacts should occur seamlessly under one roof.
In order to effectively monetize your leads, you need to build up and nurture a follow-up pipeline automatically. This is best done by keeping in touch with leads without your involvement (until they call you back) using features such as:
Your CRM is a living, breathing machine, but you still need human input to keep the wheels turning. This is where task management comes into play, giving you the ability to manage your team and the granular level tasks of your operations one task at a time.
The features associated with this is where the rubber meets the road as it related to executing on real estate deals. This is the actual real estate related elements of the CRM that makes it a program specifically built for investors. Features include:
Some CRM solutions will provide basic tools to help kickstart your lead generation, but in no way are the comprehensive systems to execute all of your marketing.
Ultimately, it’s important to be accountable for your own inbound marketing efforts. Use this resource to help.
Broadly speaking, you’ll want to make sure the system can help you accomplish all of the above tasks.
We’ve built a lot of these into our InvestorFuse system, but we understand there are other options out there as well whose feature sets may tailor more towards lead generation or other strategies you need help with.
Make sure to revisit the above “Define” section to carefully define your problem areas and make sure the tool will alleviate your burden without causing additional confusion.
A CRM is considered a “Core Business” software, meaning your business relies on it to function properly on a day-to-day basis. It’s also something you and your team will be using on a day to day basis.
Because of this, we understand there is a switching cost if you choose the wrong platform and want to switch to another system. Make sure you’re working with a solid support team that can make this transition period swift and seamless.
Go through the above “Factors” as well and determine which of these are most important to you in your search to adopt a new CRM, and learn as much as you can about the software and the people running the software before commiting to any one program.
Although we are running our own CRM, we are also obligated to provide value to the overall investing community to make sure everyone can make an informed decision about which tools will help them be successful in their biz.
If you ever have any questions about CRM, marketing automation, real estate investing, or systems, do not hesitate to send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.