This is where we all get a bit unstuck.
Over the years I’ve used several specialist real estate CRM’s; TopProducer, Market Manager, AgentOffice, PortPlus and also tried and tested dozens more.
Back when selling, I decided TopProducer was for me even though it was a Canadian CRM that needed several workarounds for use in Australia.
TopProducer did everything that I needed at the time, like:
- enter contacts and create notes about them
- assign follow-up plans
- manage listings
- track sales
- appraisal CMA’s
- create brochures
- send letters
- create email campaigns,
- letter series and
- capture leads from my website
It pretty much did everything for me but it wasn’t really good at anything. Like the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none“.
When you have a CRM that does everything, then you are missing out on some of the best tools available to you today.
You need to first understand the true purpose of your CRM.
A CRM which stands for Customer Relationship Manager is designed to help you keep in touch with your warm and hot contacts.
Not everyone should be put into your CRM.
I’m guilty of putting every single contact I met into my CRM and then importing 6,000 records of people from my farm area into it. You know back when you used to be able to get a list of everyone who lives in an area. Well I thought that was a great idea, all this power!
This is the worst idea ever and i’m guilty of doing it.
Why you should not put everyone into your primary CRM
Looking back this is fundamental key to your success. You have heard of the 80/20 principal, well putting everyone into your CRM throws that good science out the window.
The principle was suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.
Here is why you should start thinking in terms of creating systems in your business around the 80/20 rule and why it will change your life.
Firstly not everyone you meet qualifies to become members of your database. If everyone goes into your CRM, your 20% shrinks significantly to 5 or even 1% and makes it next to impossible to find the people in it which will deliver 80% of your results.
In real estate sales the 20% success is really closer to 3%. At any given time 3% of the population is thinking about real estate.
Let me illustrate.
After importing over 6,000 people into my database, applying follow-up plans which had a number of letters, calls and emails you can quickly become overwhelmed with tasks to perform on thousands of cold leads. Your dashboard will fill up nearly instantly with a clutter of tasks that you never get to in time.
This severely distracted me from finding and working with the 20% who are ready to act, today.
What you need is a two tier system to manage your database of contacts.
You primary database will only receive warm and hot leads and they must be worthy of being entered.
Wouldn’t you rather have 200-300 warm and hot leads than 6,000 cold people where you haven’t had a chance to start a real relationship with, or contacts that could be years away from making a decision to sell?
Some of the best real estate agents I’ve had the pleasure of working with and shadowing used this focused strategy, and they didn’t even know it.
Your success depends on focus: Nurture your appraisal/CMA contacts, past clients and people you meet and talk about real estate with who are ready to act. You will never again feel the nervous rush of panic when looking at the telephone to cold call a prospect and have to think? “What should I say?”
Why? Because you spoke to them a few months ago, and:
- discovered a bit more about them
- talked about their family
- let them know a bit about the real estate market
- talked about their future plans, and
- Took notes so you don’t forget the next time you call.
And then you ask the golden question every time you call.
“Of all the people you know, who do you think is most likely to move next?”
This is the purpose of your warm and hot calls; You are asking for referrals.
Its a much more pleasant to call someone who you have taken the time to build a relationship with and should be as easy as calling a friend to offer your help to someone they know.
The thing is, your caller may be thinking; “Hey we are thinking of moving now, come over and tell us what to do next.”
What a great reason for you to call your warm and hot leads.
Asking a specific question, allows them to better answer you with a potential lead.
Its much better then asking; “Do you know anyone going to sell?” or something along those lines because that’s generic and undefined.
Become specific in how you deal with people and avoid long discussions about nothing for too long. The person you are calling is busy like you and has the same limited number of minutes each day.
Don’t waste their time with fluff.
Be direct and they will appreciate you call. You don’t want them to look at their iPhone the next time you call, see your name pop up and think; “Oh no, not him again…”
The golden rule to create referrals: Ask the right question.
“Of all the people you know, who do you think is most likely to move next?”
The purpose of this call is to find out how they are, leave them with a nugget of real estate news and ask for a referral. Start asking them just like you should be when wanting to get testimonials.
Ask them. And keep asking every single call.
Preparation is everything.
You must prepare the receiver to expect to hear you ask this question every time you call. If you prepare them first because you are offering to help their friends, in their minds they will thank you for actually caring.
Oh look, he is a real person who cares about me and not just about them.
Your head has two ears, two eyes and a mouth. Use them in that ratio; start watching, listening and asking questions to help you build solid relationships.
A great book to read about how to listen, influence and connect with people was first published in 1937 and sold over 15 million copies is; How to Win Friends and Influence People – The only book you need to lead you to success by Dale Carniegie. The stories told within are from the greatest leaders and influential people from our colourful history, and it’s a great read.
Re read it every year. Hmmm where is my copy…
Would you share your friends or family plans with a stranger or a person who only talks about themselves?
However, if you take the time to call regularly, listen to them and they will come to realise that you actually do care, because you do.
Now you have the right to continually ask them: “Of all the people you know, who do you think is most likely to move next?”
This question is much more specific and easier for your caller to answer. You can even personalise it further with them because you already know what has been happening in their life.
Just for a minute, take a look at your own family, friends and people you work with. Perhaps there is a new baby, or someone got a promotion or an event took place or perhaps they overheard a friend’s conversation at a recent BBQ.
This question makes them think of these types of events, and how many do actually end up having something to do with real estate.
The people you are calling and building a relationship with are surrounded by people you where you want listings.
Do this and your response rate will skyrocket because you are focusing on people where you have taken the time to build a relationship. You may have met them initially at an appraisal last year. Develop a relationship with them but don’t get to close.
It’s important to not take the relationship too far.
You want to be seen as a professional expert, not a cosy friend.
Let them know you are a real estate agent looking to help them and people they know when a property decision comes along. You want to be their trusted professional real estate expert they can rely on for property reports is friendly and listens to them.
Be that agent; they will start telling their friends about you the next time someone is talking about real estate at the next BBQ.
You can only do this if you have a smaller laser focused database instead of an out-of-date monster system with 6,000 people in it who you barely know.
Two databases are better than one.
Create a laser focus prospecting strategy in your business where you can focus on the 20%, which deliver you 80% of results.
How to use your second database to feed your primary database with warm and hot leads.
This strategy is the 80/20 rule multiplied and fully automated.
Your top prospects are literally putting themselves into your primary VIP database and only the best and most ready can apply.
Embrace email marketing strategies and design it to feed your primary database.
Not everyone has email… yeah right…
They just don’t give it to you. There are a few who really don’t use email and you will segment your email system and use the exact same process using the same content in your email system. The difference will be the medium you send it, frequency of delivery and based around cost.
Using a simple excel spreadsheet with names and addresses to mail merge from using Word but keep them out of your primary CRM.
Quality contacts in your primary database are your goal.
Lets look at a few key points specific for real estate agents and why you should be using MailChimp for email marketing.
MailChimp is one of, if not the biggest email marketing system out there. All they do is send emails to billions of people every month for millions of customers.
They know a lot about email and have created an easy to use system that helps you connect with your subscribers.
There are literally thousands of ways and programs that you could use to send bulk email. No doubt your current CRM has some form of bulk email built it.
Stop using it; just because something can do it, does not mean you should use it.
The sheer volume of emails that MailChimp sends in one month, is more than the majority of other email systems out there combined. They have a lot of people who only work with email. Perhaps they know a thing or two about email.
Is your real estate CRM the best tool to use in your business for email?
Some of the really great features of MailChimp over many of other email marketing systems are:
- Easy to use.
- RSS to email.
- Detailed reports and email analytics.
- Hundreds of templates to start with.
- Reliability on delivering your messages.
- Integrate advanced tracking for your website analytics.
- Simple forms to help you create a mini landing page.
- Advanced segmenting and list filtering.
- Multiple lists so you can send different emails to different types of leads, e.g. Sellers, Buyers, Landlords, Tenants and past clients.
- Its online and accessible from any internet connected device.
- There are iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone apps, great for using at open for inspections.
MailChimp charges nothing to get started, for under 2,000 subscribers; There are some limitations with the entry plan but there is already so much there to get you started and sending out your first email where you can specifically track who is reading them. Upgrade later when you are ready for the big league and add advanced automation tools.
You must have a dedicated email marketing system like MailChimp in your real estate business separate from your primary CRM.
Everybody you meet, speak with or find communicate with through email, should go in here. Everybody:
- Past clients.
- Appraisal and CRM appointment contacts.
- Home open visitors.
- Email enquiries from the portals and websites.
- Phone enquiries.
- Community members that you deal with like trades people, finance brokers and service providers working where you want to grow your business.
The goal of this secondary database is to get people to call you.
When they do call, only then should you put them in your primary CRM where you will invest time into building a relationship. Know this, when they do call you and they will, your database will start to be filled with past sellers who you do business with.
Some of these people will be ready now, or shortly; as with all things in marketing its a numbers game.
Make sure that those in your CRM are not just another number, these are your VIP’s.
These are the people who will provide you a constant flow of seller referrals and will be telling their friends about you, because you care about them, their long-term goals and you are calling to offer help. Tell them you only call people who you want to help and they are your VIP.
Automation is key to your email marketing success
This system must be fully automated.
Do this and the contacts in it will let you know when they are ready for your services.
Once you have 2 focused databases in place you will know exactly who to call, when to call them and what to say. You will feel better about yourself knowing that every time you call a hot or warm VIP in your primary CRM that these people actually want to hear from you.
They may even tell you who is selling before you ask; because, they like you and want their friends and family to deal with you.
Separate your CRM system and use the 80/20 rule multiplied to nurture your cold prospects that will tell you when they are ready to become your VIP.