Building Customer Relationship Management Software into the Sales Process
By Dave Clements of Lasso Data Systems
Other than idiosyncratic and superstitious quirks, like wearing the same clothes underwear from the grand opening until you make your first sale, there aren’t too many secrets left in the new home sales process. There is change, constant change, and evolution as we all adapt to the new communication avenues present on the internet. But at its heart, selling a house is still selling a house—connect with a prospect, show off the property, do whatever it is you do to sell, and then close the deal.
For a long time, customer relationship management (CRM) software was one of the last and best-kept secrets in real estate home sales. As is often the case, the real estate homebuilding industry took a while to understand embrace and adopt this new technology. Today, there is an accelerating trend of many developer and homebuilder real estate sales teams are embracing CRM and realizing the benefits of having a centralized database of prospects and buyers leads accessible across their organizations.
Why employ CRM, and how can it benefit a sales team, and help convert leads and close contracts? Here are a few reasons why a robust CRM solution can become a sales team’s new best friend.
CRM keeps information consistent and centralized. Even the most social media-friendly sales organization may still be relying on outmoded spreadsheet-based systems for tracking their leads. Information needs to be copied across multiple documents, increasing the likelihood for error and resulting in inconsistent, inaccurate often outdated data.
With a CRM solution, a centralized database is created, and through the CRM, parties across the organization can update the same information in the same place. Departments can also share information more effectively about prospects or buyers—if a customer service rep has a conversation with a buyer about an amenity package, that can be noted in the customer record so that the salesperson is never out of the loop on any communication with his or her prospect.
More importantly, that database remains consistent and complete even as one project community closes and a second the next project opens up. Many builders right now are facing difficulties selling out projects, moving those last few homes that will take unoccupied homes off the books. A CRM database can help by providing an instant “interest list” for new projects or existing projects that still have homes available. A quick e-mail blast to the entire database can reach those who may have recently resumed a new home search, providing fresh new leads from a database of those who may have once seemed like lost opportunities.
CRM enables effective follow-up. A CRM system is like an instant “to-do” list for a sales agent each day—they can easily access an up-to-date, accurate, complete list of all of their prospects, as well as a listing of when each was last contacted. Using that information, sales professionals can determine who needs a phone call or an e-mail, who should make an appointment to come into the sales center, and who may be close to closing on a home. From a management perspective, CRM can help create a culture of accountability, since the CRM can be used to track how each salesperson is progressing with their active leads. Managers can use this information to help facilitate the sales process and work individually with each salesperson for constructive coaching and personal development. growth.
CRM facilitates marketing. Today, a robust CRM system will serve double duty—it will provide an amazing resource for a sales team and a consistent lead database, but it will also have e-mail marketing capabilities built in. This allows the marketing team to send messages directly to the lead database without having to employ a separate or external systemolution; it also helps streamline the lead tracking process, as each e-mail sent will automatically be noted in automatically as a history item in each lead’s profile. record in the system. Sales professionals will know when each e-mail went out, which prospect opened or forwarded the e-mail, and what the contents of each e-mail was—this is invaluable information to have when performing follow-up calls.
CRM is more than just the best friend your real estate sales team ever had—it’s the technology “bridge” between old-school selling techniques and the rise of Web 2.0 and social media services. With CRM, no lead gets lost, and no sale is missed—every piece of information that comes through the sales team can be documented and stored. It’s an invaluable resource, and any sales team serious about converting leads should investigate it.
Dave Clements is CEO of Lasso Data Systems, a leading provider of customer relationship management solutions designed for the specific needs of the real estate industry. He blogs about real estate sales, marketing, and technology at blog.lassodatasystems.com