In Part 3 of this series, Jennifer dives into all of the systems and tools that she recommends for managing SALES in your real estate business. You'll learn about systems for CRMs, Transaction Management, drip campaigns and tools to collect important information from clients.
Well hello there, Jen Percival here.
Welcome back to the Women Rocking Real estate show. Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing all of my recommendations for systems and tools in your real estate business. In the last episode, I shared my recommendations for all of the lead generation systems and tools that you need to grow your business if you want to do that without using traditional methods like door knocking, cold calling, hounding your database, or buying low-quality online leads. The week before I shared operational systems and tools, so if you haven’t listened to those episodes, make sure you check them out first.
If you’re new to this 4-part series, you can also download a free toolkit with links to all of the programs I recommend in these episodes, plus a bunch more. There’s some great discount codes included as well, so if you’d like that free tool, You can find it in the show notes or on my website at womenrockingrealestate/tools.
This week we’re going to be diving into all of the systems I recommend for managing sales in your business and that includes tools for contact management and staying in touch with your database, tools for transaction management and making sure you’re not missing important tasks and that you’re gathering the information you need in the course of buying and selling real estate. We’ll also be looking at tools for client communication and making sure you’re communicating everything you need to, when you need to, in order to keep your clients happy and informed and also protect yourself in the process.
The first system every Realtor needs in their business is probably the most important one and that is a contact management system. Now when I say that, most of you probably think I’m referring to a fancy CRM system and I’m going to bet that there’s a big lot of ya that pay for an expensive CRM every month and aren’t using it. Raise your hand if that’s you? I hear this all the time. Agents buy these programs thinking there’s some sort of magical way they’re going to generate leads for them and sadly a lot of the companies tell you that in their sales material. So let’s clear up some misconceptions around CRMS and set the record straight.
For starters CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a tool to help you manage relationships with your clients and potential leads and the data associated with them. But it doesn’t generate leads for you, it just gives you a tool to house contacts, keep data about those contacts and tell you when you need to communicate with those contacts to stay top of mind and establish loyalty. Some of them also include an email component that actually sends drip campaigns automatically to people as well as newsletters. However the emails created inside CRM programs tend to be very generic looking. They are usually just text based and don’t allow the ability to add images, videos, text formatting, etc. and it’s those things that can really improve the likelihood of someone actually reading your emails. Lastly the deliverability can be a challenge because the CRM systems are not classified as email service providers and therefore they end up in people’s junk folders more often than not.….but I’m getting off topic here, because as we were talking about CRMS and lead generation.
If you’re looking into a CRM and it claims anything about lead generation, look into exactly what that means. How is it going to generate leads? Most of the ones that claim this are actually just selling you online leads and taking a cut of your commissions, They then provide a CRM system to house and nurture those leads. So a CRM program is separate from lead generation. It’s just the tool that helps you stay in touch with leads, but on its own, it doesn’t generate them.
Given that, a CRM is only going to work for you, if you’re using it. If you put all of your contacts from your sphere and clients and prospects into your CRM, but they’re just sitting there and you’re not using it to make sure you’re staying in touch with people and following up with them on key dates, etc. then there’s zero point to having a CRM.
It’s not a tool that you need to pay for, if you’re not going to use it properly and because the vast majority of agents don’t, I don’t recommend you start paying for one, until you’ve developed a HABIT of using a free one first. Only after you’ve been using a free CRM tool consistently for at least a year, should you consider investing in a paid program. This also goes back to money management. Either start using tools that you’re paying for or stop paying for them until you’ve developed a habit around using a free version first.
So when it comes to contact management, at its basic core, this is just a centralized place to store everyone’s name, email, phone number and address from your sphere of influence and client base. In terms of tools available for this you could easily just use Google sheets, but just having a spreadsheet of contacts isn’t going to do anything to help you grow your business. As we’ve said, the real purpose of a CRM, is to help you stay in touch with people in your database, based on pre-defined dates or statuses.
The most common mistake many agents make that causes them to miss out on thousands in lost commissions, is not staying in touch with past clients and prospects. They’re great with their current clients, but the number one reason consumers choose a different realtor for their next transaction, is because they didn’t hear from their last realtor after they bought or sold. So staying in touch with past clients is critical for a successful, long-term career. Remember, you may believe they won’t be buying or selling again in the near future, but you don’t know that and past clients will always be a source of referrals, provided they were happy with your services.
So staying in touch with past clients is one purpose for your CRM, but the other purpose is for nurturing your database. Now notice I didn’t say hounding your database, I said nurturing it. There’s a huge difference. When you make calls to your database daily asking if they know anyone thinking of moving, or you’re trying to set up an appointment with them, you’re contacting them for the purpose of getting something from them (ie business or referrals). If you were on the receiving end of those calls from a friend, how would it make you feel? I don’t know about you, but it would make me feel used. Like the only reason you’re reaching out to me is to try to get business from me. That would repel me, not attract me.
Before I got into real estate, I was in a book club with a group of women in my neighbourhood, but if we’re being honest, it was really just a wine club under the disguise of a bookclub. Anyway, one of the women in the group was a real estate agent and what I loved about her, was that she never brought up real estate and she never asked me if we were planning to move or asked for referrals. What she did do, was anytime a property got listed on my street, she’d just send me the listing with a quick message to let me know about it, what it sold for and how my house compared. Super helpful and valuable, nothing pushy about it at all. If I hadn’t decided to get my license and become partners with her, I definitely would have used her as my Realtor because I really appreciated her approach. So when you stay in touch with people and nurture for the purpose of giving something of value instead of trying to get something, not only will you feel good instead of gross, but sales will be the natural side effect.
So to properly nurture your sphere, prospects and past clients, you really need a tool that has database functionality and not just a spreadsheet and this is where Notion comes back into play as the tool I recommend. It allows you to have a contact database and the ability to add any customized fields you wish for those contacts to help you stay in touch with them, plus custom checklists and reminders on pre-determined dates, etc. You can also link your contacts to a separate transaction database in notion so that you can manage all of the details related to your transactions and it’s connected to the client, but more on that in a bit. You can also integrate Notion with your Email service provider to automatically subscribe them and segment them to receive relevant drip campaigns AND lastly if you get a free CRM system through your brokerage, you can easily integrate it with Notion, so that any contacts that get added, also go into your free Notion database that you own and can take with you wherever you go. This is why I don’t recommend using a free CRM provided by your brokerage or a team you work on, because if you leave, they will keep those contacts. You may get a copy of it or you may not, it depends on the brokerage or team, but either way, they will keep the list as well and try to keep them.
Now Paid CRM programs obviously do all of the things I just talked about and more to be honest, but they really only make sense when your business is at a more advanced level. Until then, you can get all the basics you need for free (however you will need a paid email service provider).
If you are interested in using Notion and don’t want to start from scratch creating everything, you will get a copy of all of my pre-built Notion templates, in my Foundations of Success program. Otherwise you can get in there, play around with it and build your own templates. As I mentioned before, it is a more advanced tool than some out there and that’s because it can be customized to work however you want it to, but it’s not really a plug & play tool, so don’t get an account and expect it to be. If you’re not going to get pre-built templates, you’ll have to invest some time in learning how to build them yourself.
Once you have developed a daily habit around nurturing your database and your business is ready for a much more sophisticated CRM system, I recommend upgrading to a program called Realvolve. Now to get the full benefit out of a tool like Realvolve, you have to be ready to invest some serious time into setting it up properly and let me be clear, this is a major project. If you’re just going to use the same features that you already had access to in a free program like Notion, there is zero benefit to upgrading. You have to be ready to take optimizing your business to the next level. When you are ready to do that, Realvolve has features that can be game changing for automating your business and thereby getting back more of your time in the long run. Now Realvolve does have a service to set everything up for you, but it’s quite expensive and only makes sense for agents with teams and those doing a lot of transactions every year.
Transaction Management System
Alright the next system that you need in your business is a Transaction Management System. When it comes to your transactions, there are a number of reasons why you need a system around them.
The first reason goes back to something we talked about in Part 1 of this series and that is having a goal setting system and a way to track your progress. If I were to ask you right now, what is your freedom metric for this year (ie. what is your goal for gross commission income) and how many transactions is that going to require? Could you tell me that right now if I asked you? What if I asked you if you’re on track to meet that goal right now? Do you know? If not, you should. At any given time, you should be able to say I’m 50% towards my year-end goals and on track to reach them. But the only way for anyone to be able to know this, is to track it, update it and look at it regularly - like daily.
I use Notion for this as well, in the Business Dashboard template I created, there is a section where you put in your commission goals, transactions required to get there and then break it down even further into what that means in terms of purchases, listings and rentals.
Then there’s a table right below it where you add all of your transactions for the year and you can quickly see all of the important metrics at a glance. So the ability to track your transactions as it relates to reaching your goals is the first reason why you need a transaction management system.
The second reason relates to task management. I covered this topic in depth in Part 1 of this series, but to recap at a high level….. If you don’t have a digital task management system that you use consistently or if you have notebooks all over the place with things you need to remember scribbled down related to your clients and transactions, it’s just a matter of time before you get yourself in trouble.
When you’re new, you might be able to get by with what you’ve been doing when you only have a few clients and transactions. But there will come a time when all of the sudden you’re going to be juggling more than you can handle and that is when important things fall through the cracks. So having automated task lists guiding you through each step that needs to be taken, in the process of working with clients, can keep you out of hot water both legally and in terms of your client’s satisfaction with your services.
So having a system that allows you to create projects around transactions, with pre-built task lists that cover every single detail that need to be completed when you’re working with buyers, sellers and renters is critical.
Alright the next system that you need in your real estate business that falls under the bucket of managing the sales in your business, is a system for gathering required and relevant information about your clients and the properties that they are buying, selling or renting. This system is most relevant for your listings, but can also be used for purchases.
If you don’t have a system for gathering the necessary information to list a property, you’re constantly going to be trying to remember WHAT information you need and one of three things is going to happen. 1) you’re going to have to keep going back to your clients asking for more information about their property and I assure you, doing that makes you look unprepared, disorganized and like an amateur or 2) if you don’t remember to include something important in the listing and the client notices it first, that is not going to look good either and sets them up to start questioning their confidence in you. Once that happens, they start viewing every thing you do under that lens and it’s really hard to recover from that. Lastly 3) if you miss putting something important in the listing AND your client doesn’t notice, but it becomes an issue in the future…..the responsibility will always fall on you. Not only will you have to rectify the situation, but it could also lead to fines and disciplinary action by your legislative body. Not worth it.
So the easiest way to make sure you’re gathering the right information and to ensure you don’t ever forget anything is through the use of online forms. When I first started in real estate, I would book an appointment with my seller to go by there house and start asking them all the questions I needed to list their property and without fail, they’d ‘forget’ to tell me about a chattel or fixture they wanted excluded and when it came up on closing, they’d swear they told me. If anything can ever become a he said / she said, you will lose every time. When it comes to real estate, always get everything in writing. I learned my lesson after having to buy a new furnace for buyers because my sellers failed to tell me it was a rental and so I didn’t include that in the listing and then the buyers demanded a new furnace. Who rents a furnace??
After that mistake, I decided to create online forms that asked sellers every question you can possibly imagine about their property. It got tweaked over the years anytime something new came up that caused me grief and I can’t tell you how many times that form has kept me out of trouble and also saved me from having to pay for something that wasn’t my fault.
Not only that, but it saved me tons of hours because there was no real need to meet in person to gather this information. It can be done at a time that is convenient for the sellers and it allowed me to be spending my time doing something more productive. When things are in writing like this and it’s the seller themselves filling out the information, it leaves no room for misinterpretations or he said / she saids.
There’s two tools I recommend you use for this - the first one is Google Forms and although it’s free, you ideally would want to integrate the form submission with your contact & transaction management tool so that everything is kept in one place. To do that you’ll need a program called Zapier and although it’s free, you only get a limited number of zaps on the free version.
The second option if you’ve decided to use Notion for your Contact and Transaction management, is to use Notion Forms. It integrates seamlessly with all of your notion databases and can import the form details so that they are connected and easily accessed through your client or the transaction databases in Notion. There is a free version of Notion forms, but it does have some limitations that are useful. The paid version is $19 a month and it allows you to upload files to your forms - this can be helpful for sellers to upload important documents that you need to verify and that you need a copy of. Things like property taxes, surveys, ownership documents, etc. Google forms will allow you to do this as well.
Client Communication System
Alright the last system that you need in your business under the bucket of Sales is a system for client communication. I’m going to break this down into two categories.
Category one is a system for communicating with your clients day to day. Now obviously you’re going to be using a variety of tools for this like email, phone and text. However there is one tool I highly recommend called Voxer. It is a free walkie talkie type app for your phone that allows you to leave voice messages in real time. For one using a tool like this is so much more efficient than texting as you don’t have to type anything. You just hold the button down and talk and they receive your voice message and it’s important to know this isn’t a voice to text tool, it leaves actual messages.
It’s not only faster and more efficient but if you’re ever communicating anything that could have a perceived tone to it, we all know that texts and emails can be read wrong and go sideways. So using voxer allows you to send voice messages with the intended tone, but it also allows you to think about what you want to say before saying it, unlike a live conversation. Cause those can go wrong too sometimes and once again, can be come a he said/ she said situation.
I also loved separating work communication from my text messages. It just helped a little more in the work / life balance struggle.
Ok before we move on the next category of client communication, I will re-iterate that everything important always needs to be communicated in writing. You can always have a conversation, but if there is any opportunity for something to go wrong, always follow up live conversations with an email re-iterating whatever you talked live about. I cannot stress this enough. Almost every single problem I have gotten into or any of the agents that were in my brokerage could have been prevented if conversations were put in writing so that everyone was on the same page.
Alright the second category of client communication is having a system for communicating everything that your clients need to know in the process of buying, selling or renting real estate. It is your job to make sure your clients know everything they need to know to make informed decisions and protect themselves. There is a lot of information that should be communicated and it’s always better to over communicate than under communicate and once again when it comes to communicating important things, it always has to be in writing, because people will only remember what they want to remember, whether or not it’s true.
The easiest way to do this, is by creating automated drip campaigns through either your email service provider or your CRM tool if have one. In order to do this effectively, you need to have your contacts segmented by buyers, sellers and renters and then you need to be able to create workflows that send templated emails based on where someone is in their buying or selling journey. For instance with a seller, when we subscribed them to our drip campaign they would get a series of emails that explained everything they needed to know about preparing their home for sale. Once the property was on the market, they’d get another series of emails that explained everything they needed to know about what to expect while their house was listed. Once the property sold, they’d get their final sequence which included checklists for moving and everything they needed for closing.
Now it’s important to realize that people won’t read things that they don’t think are important, so it’s really important that you let your clients know they’re going to be receiving these emails and that they contain really important information and that it’s in their best interest that they read them entirely. I actually went so far as to make them sign off that they agreed to read everything. Once again, can’t tell you how many times those emails saved my arse when a client would claim I never told them something important. It’s kind of hard to argue when you’ve set a system up this way. Now obviously creating all these email sequences for buyers and sellers is a very time consuming project - but so well worth the effort and once you’ve done it once, it’s done. You’ll obviously add things to the sequences as problems come up, but the majority of the work is done up front.
Ok so just to recap, in this episode we talked about having a system for contact management and system to stay in touch with your database by providing value. For this I recommend using Notion integrated with FloDesk if you’re newer in your career or haven’t used a CRM system consistently. Once you’ve developed a habit and your business is ready to scale, I recommend using Realvolve as your CRM.
Next we talked about a system for transaction management and I recommend Notion for this until you’re ready for Realvolve.
Next was a system for gathering information using Forms and for this I recommend Google Forms or Notion Forms.
Lastly we talked about systems for client communication and for this I recommend Voxer for day to day communication and Flodesk for drip campaigns if you’re early in your career, or Realvolve if your business is more advanced.
Don’t forget to download the free toolkit that includes all of these recommendations as well as some discount codes. You can find it in the show notes or by visiting my website at womenrockingrealestate.com/tools
Alright next week is the last episode in this series and I’m going to be covering all the systems and tools I recommend under the umbrella of Scaling. When you are ready to hire your first VA or start to build a team your success will depend on the systems you have in place BEFORE your first hire.
You’re not going to want to miss it, so make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast so that you’re notified when new episodes drop.
I’ll see you next week and remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn, but only if you’re implementing what you lean.
Until next time.
FREE Download --> 51 Must-Have Business Tools For Realtors