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Even The Best Free Real Estate CRM of 2018 Should Be Considered With Care

Due to the highly competitive nature of real estate, how you equip your tactical toolset is a priority that should never be taken lightly.  Even the best free CRM in real estate may not be the best option for real estate agents looking to grow their business on a budget.

To survive in tomorrow’s market amidst a constantly evolving industry, agents need to be highly well-rounded on all aspects of their professional existence. Since it’s rare that we can be equally excellent marketers, managers, negotiators, sellers, administrators, and relationship managers, we must rely on software and other tools to compensate for our areas for improvement and automate our most time-consuming tasks (thus freeing up time for more sophisticated priorities).

To survive, you must be able to adapt to changing conditions and refine your skill sets across the board. Depending on where you are in your career, budgeting and prioritizing are also important, especially if you’re handling fewer than 10 transactions per year with hope to grow.

And when it comes to choosing a CRM, the seed you plant is one that should be selected carefully (with the future in mind)!

Real estate agents typically seek out a CRM to:

  1. Keep contacts from ‘falling through the cracks.’ Without a CRM, agents are forced to utilize sometimes very primitive methods of managing relationships, including spreadsheets and online calendars, even notebooks. Ultimately, there comes a time when your contact list grows to the point where all of your tools need to be communicating better; appointments get missed, emails get lost, and contacts that would have been sold accounts disappear.
  2. Enhance marketing activity. Whether you are an advocate for purchasing leads, nurturing old contacts, or both, CRM systems allow you to not only store your contacts but classify them into groups so that when your marketing calls for targeting specific profiles, you’re more positioned to do so without added headache.
  3. Automate relationship management. Here at Realvolve, we strongly believe that relationships need to be authentic. They require care and personalization—especially in real estate, where your customers are entering into a highly emotional transaction. If they feel their emotional needs are not being met, that’s when they’ll turn the other direction. However, the intense demands that contribute to real estate transactions equate to a LOT of communications. If you can’t find a way to automate this, prepare to literally lose a lot of sleep. Read on to find out where Realvolve manages to automate yet keep your communications authentic!

We acknowledge that when it comes to CRMs, you have a lot of amazing options. We have a lot of respect for our own competitors: LionDesk, Top Producer, Contactually, and others, who all do an amazing job at CRM. Some CRMs are more affordable than others and simply help agents with their essential contact management needs. Others are pricier and, while they may be less affordable at glance, they have more robust features. On that note, we also want to know from YOU... what's the perfect CRM for realtors in your opinion?

There are also some CRMs that are free to realtors just getting started.

Approach 'Free' CRMs With Caution

First, a disclaimer!  We're not against the use of free tools.  Everyone needs to start somewhere, and the nature of early entrepreneurship is a lot like building a parachute after jumping off a cliff.

IF YOU CAN... we like to caution agents against anything on the spectrum of customer relationship management that is offered for free (and anything else in life, really - even hugs).  If you absolutely have no other option, we simply suggest that just because you've found a free tool, be sure to do same amount of careful research before diving in.  Also, a lot of free tools are provided by some very upstanding companies - but often they're not specific to real estate agents.  

Mostly, CRMs for realtors are one of those things that once you get started; once you've uploaded contacts and build relationships using such tools, if you find out later that it's not the right solution for your particular needs, it becomes a daunting task if you ever decide to change.  In fact, this may be especially true for "free" CRMs.

To better illustrate what we mean, let’s use restaurants as an example. Some people prefer their dining experience to be quick and easy. Chipotle or Mad Greens, or other fast food options are all readily available.  You can get in and out and get a decent meal very quickly.  Just don't expect any white glove treatment!

Others might be a little more particular about their diet or their sit-down experience. For them, a more expensive sit-down restaurant is more appropriate.

Now, imagine a restaurant that promises you a sit-down experience, and guess what—everything on the menu is free!

Suddenly, despite the amazing value that’s proposed, we are naturally a bit skeptical about our experience. Where is this ‘free’ food coming from? Is it safe to eat? How are they paying their staff, and are they suited to handle food and keep a clean environment?

Most likely, upon arriving at this free-food restaurant—as we witness a worn-down building with dirty plates and silverware and a bad smell coming from the kitchen—we suddenly realize that ‘free’ could be a terribly dangerous option.

On top of that, you have to wonder why  this restaurant is proposing to serve you for free. What’s their motive? After sitting down, you’ll likely find that you’re approached by people you never invited to your table who are trying to sell you things you don’t need.

I think we can all agree that we’d be quick to leave.

When it comes to CRMs, it’s all the same. The only difference is that software companies can dress up their online storefronts to blend in with legitimate establishments fairly easily. So you don’t get to truly experience the ‘free’ experience until you’ve gotten yourself locked in, uploaded your contacts, and made the time sacrifice required to get started—only to find yourself in a situation you miserably regret! There are probably very few competitive agents who could truly benefit from a free CRM.

So back to the restaurant analogy, let's have a little fun: If Realvolve were a restaurant, which would we be? Well, we’re not going to tie our brand to any one restaurant, but we can tell you this:

  1. We’re not a franchise like Chilis, or even one of those "finer" franchises like Ruth’s Chris steakhouse.  For our customers, we believe in delivering an experience that is as unique to their needs as possible.
  2. We’re very much artisan by nature; the creators of Realvolve constantly strive to create a truly unique culture where community and communication and real relationships are the keystones to our company success.
  3. We take pride in a truly skilled team; from our knowledgeable sales reps, customer success managers, and software engineers, all the way up to our CEO; we are all very proud and passionate about what we do.
  4. We have a signature dish that is highly sophisticated, which only a true foodie can appreciate—the Workflow! Workflows are what make Realvolve stand out from the rest of the common CRMs. And we keep each piece of this automation tool totally authentic—you’ll never find a pre-scripted email as a part of our workflows. We allow you to write all of your automatic emails so that they come from the true ‘you.’ And we give our customers the power to build their own workflows, which—while they require an investment in time—ultimately bring your customers on your own personal journey that’s authentic to you and your process. With Realvolve, you get the power of automation without forgoing an authentic experience for your customers.

In the world of CRM, there’s ‘free.’ There’s affordable. And there’s robust!We believe there’s a segment of consumers for each. But ALWAYS be wary of ‘free’.

Mark Cafiero

Mark is passionate about the evolving nature of content marketing, is a creative problem-solver, and feels strongly that the secret to success for business lies within an empathetic approach to understanding customer needs and wants. Mark is Realvolve's newest addition as their Director of Marketing Strategy. Mark is proud to have some of his accomplishments featured in Timothy Ferriss' 4 Hour Workweek (extended version).

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