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The Little More on the Real Estate CRM Opportunity…

Real estate CRM’s are a tricky business. I’ve spoken to numerous entrepreneurs over the past year who aim to solve the CRM problem that’s existed forever.

My gut? None of them will, and here’s why…

First of all, it has absolutely nothing to do with their competency. I struggle to figure out how anyone, short of someone with massive distribution like Zillow or Trulia, is going to win the CRM race.

Trust

Customer relationship management is the core of most businesses. If that data is lost or corrupted (or goes offline), that’s a major, major problem that will hit the bottom line extremely quickly. Trying to get someone to rip up the pipes that hold their business together? That’s no easy sale. A startup, with no pre-established trust, trying to rip up those pipes — that’s an even harder sale.

It’s the same challenge those selling websites to agents/brokers (or anyone, for that matter) face on a daily basis. It’s not a spur of the moment decision to switch your website to a new provider, because the switching costs/pain are high. If agent X doesn’t trust you, you will never get their money no matter how great your product is.

The same goes for CRM’s.

Bloated Software

Unfortunately, most agents/brokers THINK they want a lot of complex features in a CRM.

If a startup tries to deliver all those features in one go — you end up with a huge bloated piece of software that no one understands (or buys). For instance, I watched a bit of the product video HERE: it’s bloated, like virtually every other CRM on the market.

But if you build the most simple product on the planet, people won’t think it’s worth money or can help them. What they forget, is everything that doesn’t get used is worthless — but something that is used and does one simple thing is worth every penny.

Technical Complexity

Added on top of that, a successful CRM needs to be integrated into a vast array of technologies and systems.

Summary

In short, if I were an entrepreneur trying to enter the real estate industry, I would stay away from the CRM business. Instead, I would build a very simple product that doesn’t require such a high degree of trust to get agents/brokers to test it (you’ll never win anyone over if they never try it), and then back my way into the CRM game using the (satisfied) customer base I built with that other simple offering.

With that, happy memorial day.

PS: If you are designing and building a CRM that is NOT mobile centric, please please just stop now.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Glad I didn’t have to try to think that up or write it. Spot on. Agents’ conceptions (including mine) of which CRM is too simple and which is to complex probably create most of the problems. It’s hard to really devote the time to finding out what you need and how you’ll use it without getting distracted by “real work”.

  • Keep it simple and easy to use!

    • That’s exactly what we did with Spark CRM. Simple, to the point and pretty to look at so you don’t die of ‘excel-ness’.

  • Good article and right on point. Definitely a balancing act. Agents believe that they want it all but then find comprehensive systems to be overwhelming and don’t use them. The challenge of course is to have enough “there” in areas that really matter to make a solution compelling while keeping it simple enough so people can learn them and commit to using them. We have iterated at Rexter (my software company that is at the intersection of CRM and personal productivity) from too simple (easy but not compelling) to too hard (compelling but hard to use) to finally a happy medium around intelligent/dynamic relationship to do’s list with a core proposition of “stop working hard and start working smart.”

  • Local Agent

    Unfortunately, I think you’ve missed the boat here. While leads and lead management are incredibly important parts of any CRM, in my opinion what’s truly missing in almost every CRM I’ve reviewed and tried, is true email management. After all, the “R” in CRM is for relationship.
    And relationships are formed by conversation in all sorts of fashions. I send and receive hundreds (thousands?) of emails monthly that “relate” to various clients, leads, and customers. I may also have text messages to be tracked and recorded. There are phone calls, etc.
    All of those messages form a relationship that must be managed, and associated with both a client and, perhaps a transaction. Perhaps they are associated with showings of homes; perhaps with the various steps leading up to a listing … and then managing the listing and/or buying transaction. So how to manage all of this conversation? CRMs should have the ability to import (in groups if necessary) email, SMS text messages, MMS messages (if necessary), etc. It’s missing in almost every single CRM I’ve seen.
    See it’s not all about lead management. It’s about managing relationships that are already formed. It’s not really all that difficult to add a lead to a CRM. That’s being done by most CRMs. It’s the managing of the ongoing relationship that’s already in existence that’s the problem. Believe me, it costs far more to find a lead than to nurture ongoing relationships.
    When a CRM truly integrates all of the various conversations, leads, transaction management pieces, and then integrates the pertinent stuff with my mobile devices, stores everything securely in the cloud and then allows me to backup all of my data locally if I choose, I’ll be onboard in a second! (just my soapbox moment here …)

    • Courtenay Farquharson

      100% agree. I cannot believe how CRM’s market themselves as Customer Relationship Management systems. How do you have a relationship if you can’t track the relationship – texts, voicemails, emails and calls.

      Thats why we built Agent007 – http://agent007.io – we don’t do transaction management, mass property emails or anything else. All we try to do is be good at:

      Lead routing from multiple sources
      Lead management
      Lead follow-up

      and doing all of that on the mobile automatically. I feel that with all the integration options we have these days developers of modern CRM’s are just not making the smartphone talk the the CRM talk to the IDX website. Why not?

  • You are absolutely right. In today’s time, people operate almost everything from their mobile. I myself am a broker and was looking for a real estate CRM from which I get my customers on the go. Currently I am using RSquare CRM. It’s basically a web application and mobile app made especially for real estate agents.
    Sharing the mobile app link with you: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rr.consultants

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