If you are serious about commercial real estate brokerage as a career you will need a good database software program to support your actions and interaction with clients and prospects. That being said, so many agents and brokers struggle with simple spreadsheets and consequently suffer the threat of potential data damage or loss that happens commonly with spreadsheets.
If you are looking for results as an agent or broker in finding and converting new clients (Aren’t we all?), then a well selected database program is very important. When you have chosen the right program to use for your location, then you start filling it with new contacts and people.
What are the Choices?
So there are many different database programs around to review and understand, and the costs vary greatly. That being said, you do not need to spend a lot of money in securing a program that works for you ($30 to $50 per month on a subscription basis will be more than adequate).
It is essential that any software that you are considering using is checked out fully before you take action and commit time to using something. One critical thing to check out first is if you can import and export contacts into and out of the database easily. Some software suppliers make the process deliberately hard so that you will not change suppliers over time. The fact of the matter is that you should be able to move your data when you want to and not pay a premium for it.
So how do you get started in finding the software program that works for you? One fact to remember here is if you are prospecting for new business regularly, effectively and directly you will need to input and control a lot of data. On a daily basis you should be talking to at least 20 new people and some of those should get into your database with appropriate detail from the contact.
Here are some other facts to remember and control in using a program of this nature:
- Plan the process first – You are likely to have the ability to set field parameters and client criteria in using your data. On that basis you should set a limited and specific set of fields that handle the facts evolving from the people that you are talking to. Consider the differences between prospects, clients, VIP’s, and suspects. Understand the difference between all groups and move people through your pipeline accordingly.
- Pipeline system – Have you defined a pipeline of contact to the people that you define as ‘potentials’? The pipeline should be a series of tasks that automatically put you back in contact with priority people that you know have new business opportunity for you.
- Data integrity – Get away from using spreadsheets; they do not work well when you have a lot of information and you are trying to extract simple pieces of information. Test your software to see how you can set some rules on finding people and determine how fast and easy it is to get out the information that you require.
- Email integration – A good database will integrate into your email system so you can send out plenty of information in a controlled way to lots of people. The email process should allow ‘personalisation’ of the message process and in other cases the mass ‘blast’ of many emails to a select group of prospects.
- Track enquiry types and volume – In each segment of your software program you should have the ability to look at contact numbers and select people based on set criteria that you enter. In talking to a lot of new people you will see trends from the tracking process. Regularly keep aware of the enquiry types coming in and the volume in categories of buildings and locations.
- Record conversations with key people – When you have a connection or conversation with a key person, the fact and details of the matter should be escalated in your contact pipeline so you can see how to get back in contact quickly and directly.
- Property facts – When you connect with an ever increasing group of people at a bare minimum you will need to track property types, price ranges, rent ranges, improvements required, location and timing. Understand how you can do that accurately and simply for sellers, buyers, investors, and tenants in separate groups.
From these 7 facts I go back to the point that the database that you use and work with is the foundation of your real estate business now and into the future. There is really no point working in commercial real estate brokerage unless you control and use your own database with accurate information that you have loaded yourself and nurtured over time.