What is a CRM, and how should you use it?

CRM stands for customer relationship management.

You’ve probably already heard about the benefits of CRM – better relationships with your customers, more repeat and referral business, more time and/or money at your disposal – but what exactly is a CRM, and how can you make the most of it?

First, a quick definition: CRM stands for customer relationship management. At its simplest, customer relationship management is a strategy for managing your interactions with clients and sales prospects.

Often when someone talks about “a CRM”, they’re referring to a CRM system. A CRM system is a piece of software that allows you to store the details of your contacts, and to communicate with them more efficiently.

A good CRM system can help you to track:

  • The contact details of your clients and prospects,
  • The emails you’ve sent to your contacts,
  • Other communications with your contacts, and
  • Your contacts’ place in the property cycle (often done via tags/categories).

CRM software can also assist in sending out emails, letters, and even SMSs. Real-estate specific CRMs often provide tools to help manage your listings: for example, allowing you to upload to real estate portals, generate brochures, create stock lists, generate home open lists, and more.

Various contact details in the CRM Infusionsoft.

As an example, here is the CRM software we use (Infusionsoft). From this page I can see Lucy’s contact details, and that she is a business coaching client. I can also see that she received and clicked our most recent newsletter.

There are countless CRM systems available. A few real-estate specific systems are MyDesktop, LockedOn, Box+Dice, Complete Data, AgentBox, PortPlus… and the list goes on.

Whichever you choose, you’ll get out what you put in. As U.S. agent Lisa Archer put it, a database “requires constant addition, nurture and contact, or it dies.”

So how can you keep your CRM database alive and thriving? Here are five tips that will help you use your CRM more effectively.

1. Start with a plan.

What are you trying to achieve with your CRM? How will you know if you’ve succeeded? Knowing your strategy is paramount – it will help you choose a CRM system (if you haven’t already), determine how you’ll use it, and save you from distracting tasks that aren’t important to your goals.

2. Communicate regularly.

Whether you choose to communicate via phone, email, SMS, and/or something else: choose a realistic schedule and stick to it. Communicating regularly will allow you to establish yourself as reliable, and keep you in your prospects’ field of awareness. There’s no point in having a huge database of people that you never contact!

Pro tip: Most CRM systems have tools available to help maintain regular communication. For example, some can send you an email notification when it’s time to touch base with a past client. Find the tool(s) that are most useful to you and put them to work.

A content calendar can help you communicate regularly.

Following a content calendar can also help you maintain regular communication.


3. Get permission.

How will you be building your database? Stay within the boundaries of the Spam Act by getting your prospects’ permission before putting them on your email or SMS list. We’ll cover this topic in more detail in a future post, but for now see the ACMA website for an overview of how the Spam Act affects your marketing.

4. Keep it clean.

People’s contact details are constantly changing, as is their place in the buying/selling cycle. Keep your database clean by regularly checking for duplicates (many CRM systems have tools for this), updating your contacts’ details, and changing any tags/categories when they are no longer relevant.

Duplicates are a common CRM issue.

Duplicate entries are a common databasing issue.


5. Send the right things to the right people.

Try sending targeted messages to different segments of your database. For example, an article about how to sell your home isn’t very relevant to a first home buyer – instead, they’d probably appreciate a list of properties in their area that fall within their price range, or tips on obtaining the First Home Owner Grant. For your sellers, on the other hand, an article on obtaining the First Home Owner Grant won’t be relevant.

Pro tip: All CRM systems will allow you to segment your database in some way. You might do this by applying tags, sorting contacts into lists or groups, or by setting up campaigns/’communication action plans’ that send targeted emails automatically.

A good CRM system is a highly useful tool, but like any tool, your CRM will be as good as you make it. Start with a solid plan, communicate regularly, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most from your database.

Need further advice on databasing and CRM? Call Peter on 0419 538 838 for a free 15-minute phone consultation.

Image by Shinichi via Flickr.

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About Emily Murphy

Emily is a digital strategist, Internet Communications graduate, and raving fan of WordPress. She worked with Real Estate Tribe from early 2012 to late 2014.

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