Commercial real estate agency is a business based on personal contact and client service. The long sales cycle of property sales and leasing can mean that you are in contact with a person or prospect for months if not years before a deal takes some shape.
For this reason you need a good customer contact system (known as CRM or customer relationship management) and a prospecting model. Now it should be said that a database that is created from this process should have reasonable flexibility to do what the agents and the business requires. All of the salespeople should take personal involvement in their part of the database activity. It is, after all is said and done, the database that will help agents grow market share.
So here are some very common problems with implementing a CRM system in commercial real estate:
- Many agents struggle with the discipline needed to maintain data and information
- Many databases contain old and redundant information that has not been updated at the right time
- Some databases are not user friendly and are more of a problem than they are worth.
- Some CRM programs are very expensive and the decision to buy should only be made after extensive investigation
- The ability to import and export data from the database is really important.
- The updates and patches to CRM software can be overlooked
- Cloud based computing is now more common as is the CRM contact system
- A CRM system in commercial real estate should be interlinked with websites, plus online and email activity
- Client listings and marketing should also be tracked in the CRM program
- Some salespeople lack the technology commitment or knowledge to do the data entry after a meeting or a client contact
Some CRM software companies make it intentionally difficult for you to move your data in and out of their program. In my opinion, they do so for one main reason. If you cannot export data easily, then it is harder for you to move to another CRM product later. Ask the question about ‘data ownership’ and importing and exporting flexibility if you are considering a change of CRM program for your office.
If you are moving to a new CRM solution, be aware that there will likely be difficulties. The changeover is not easily undertaken in most instances; if you are attempting to move data from another source, and that data is in a big file, be prepared for the challenges. The mapping between file migrations may not be accurate. Importantly make sure that you back up everything in preparation for corrupted data. Don’t migrate and merge your client contact master files to the new software program until you know that it is working.
On a final note, if you have a source CRM data file that is not 100% clean and accurate don’t do a migration of data. Get all of you source information correct and clean before you test and merge across to a new CRM program in commercial real estate agency.