Before we get started, it’s important to understand what a CRM is. The term “customer relationship management”, or CRM, burst on to the scene in 1995, and the term was commonly used to describe front office applications. The road to the CRM we know today starts with the advent of database marketing in the early 1980s. Businesses began collecting and analyzing large volumes of customer data, enabling marketing to become more efficient, effective, and personalized. The next evolution was the creation of a digital rolodex or address book, better known as “contact management software” (CMS). But CMS did not provide actionable intelligence like database marketing did, so the two were combined in the early 1990s. Sales force automation (SFA) automated many of the features of database marketing and combined them with contact management, serving to make customer information actionable and to automate many formerly manual business tasks. Then, in 1995, came CRM. Since its inception, customer relationship management software and tools have come a long way. So, what exactly does a CRM do and how can it help companies today?
CRM is a tool most commonly used for managing business-customer relationships. CRM tools can also help you manage sales processes, business contact information, employees, and current customers or clients. CRMs will track everything from communications to interactions to transactions. Furthermore, the modern-day cloud-based CRM integrates and sometimes includes a vast array of features ranging from marketing automation to content management systems.
When it comes to commercial real estate firms, there are several reasons you will want to consider investing in a real estate-specific CRM:
1.) Standardized and Centralized Data Storage – A CRM can be the “one source of truth” for your business. It can be accessible to you and your employees from anywhere and at any time. But a CRM is more than just a contact manager, Excel spreadsheet, Rolodex of business cards, or stack of sticky notes. This tool simplifies, centralizes, and scales your investor management and engagement. In fact, 75% of CRM users say this software has improved their access to customer data. It can also improve access to information like sales pipelines and prospect opportunity cues.
2.) Streamlined and Improved Organizational Communication – A CRM provides a full, accurate record of your entire interaction history with an investor or business associate that’s accessible at a moment’s notice. You will never have to manually reconstruct a timeline of touchpoints again. It ensures accuracy and helps co-workers avoid stepping on each others’ toes. Your team will have immediate access to what’s already been done with a given investor, prospect or business partner.
3.) Increased Team Transparency – Does your business sometimes feel like a black box? Do some members of the team do something one way and others do it another? Is there a system in place to ensure accountability? Without a CRM, it may be difficult to piece together interaction history in the instance a sudden change occurs. Keeping activity recording consistent will reduce friction when passing responsibilities from one team member to another, switching territories, or reassigning a departed colleague’s investors. All relevant information will be accounted for and recorded in a manner that makes sense across your entire organization. Having standardized recording processes also helps to reduce the onboarding time of new hires.
4.) Increased Speed to Value – Real estate CRM software is customer relationship management technology that is tailored specifically for the real estate vertical. A real estate CRM enables commercial real estate firms to manage their investors but also to manage investor expectations. While there are hundreds of general CRM technologies out there on the market, horizontal solutions – with a one-size-fits-all approach – don’t always support or meet the industry-specific business needs of every company. They may require a lot of customization to make it relevant to the CRE industry, whereas a real estate CRM has those features and functions built right in, minus the added complexity of unnecessary features. This means shorter implementation times for your firm and more immediate realization of value for your team. In a recent survey, real estate saw the biggest demand for a specialized, industry-specific CRM. In response to this pressing need, companies including RealPage IMS have developed CRM software specific to the needs, challenges, complexities, and priorities of the real estate industry.
Moral of the story: your business may not be running as efficiently as it could be if you don’t have a CRM, or the right CRM, in place. This technology will make maintaining your relationships easier, help you to raise equity faster, and enable you to create repeatable internal process. The benefits of a well-designed real estate-centric CRM are numerous and undeniable. Hopefully, these 4 reasons detailed above help to convince you that a CRM is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity.