Whenever I open an article about the real estate business these days, it seems like someone is launching another CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The definition of “CRM” is loose to start with, but vendors have a habit of incorrectly using “CRM” and “lead management” interchangeably. In a recent CRM review on Inman, the writer correctly states “This CRM also excels in lead management”. Translation: lead management is a key part of a CRM—it’s not a CRM. Here’s why.
Lead management is an important business process for agents and brokers. It combines tools (websites, landing pages, IDX, lead aggregation and distribution software) with techniques (SEM, SEO, media from the portals) to enable effective lead generation, management and the tracking of new sales opportunities. Let’s be clear—these leads don’t want a relationship with an agent or broker yet. They want professional, timely and informed responses to their inquiries.
So this, in a nutshell, is lead management:
- Capture the consumer’s interest (lead generation).
- Assign the lead to appropriate agent (lead assignment or distribution).
- Find out how close the lead is to buying or selling (lead qualification).
- Convert the lead into an account (lead conversion).
This is where your CRM comes into play. Your CRM should help you build new or existing business relationships with clients so you can retain their business and receive referrals in the future. Since studies show that up to 75% of your business comes from past associations, a CRM that helps you systematize your entire customer database (not just leads) is an excellent way to grow your business exponentially. Without relationships and trust, commerce won’t happen.
Your CRM should manage your business relationships throughout the entire buying/selling and home ownership cycle of a client, and help you solve the following problems:
- Information overload and inability to keep track of it all.
- Past clients or leads are slipping through the cracks and working with another agent.
- You are missing out on referrals because you don’t keep in touch with past clients.
- You don’t know if your marketing dollars are well spent.
- You waste time searching for emails from your clients.
- You have no notes on your client conversations, so you have no idea what you last spoke to your past customer or lead about.
- You’re missing appointments and not following through on tasks.
- Your clients have to repeat themselves.
- You don’t know which contacts are likely to drive business for you this year.
- You don’t have MLS access, so you have to key in data for marketing and to track the homes your past customers bought or sold.
- You know a third of the data you have lying around is useful, you just don’t know which third. And you haven’t gotten around to looking at 99 percent of it because it’s scattered everywhere.
- There’s no consistency in your lead or customer follow-up and listing/closing plans.
- Each person on your sales team has a different sales process.
- Your sales team has no way of prioritizing their tasks.
- You don’t collaborate as a team.
In short, lead management helps you make the all-important first connection. Your CRM should help you build your relationships and retain your clients for life, so that you can maximize the lifetime value of your leads and clients. It costs a lot less to retain clients than it does to acquire new ones, and CRM is an excellent way to ensure you are getting a high return for your marketing and sales effort and getting the lifetime value of your leads and clients.