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Real Estate CRMs and Lead Management: Where Is The Integration Automation?

I’ve been reviewing dozens of CRMs over the past year for projects within my own team as well as others’ businesses. The majority of these discussions include a fairly simple question: Will this CRM automatically import/update itself with the leads I get from various sources?

Traditional CRMs are great for managing your “customers”, which is what they were designed for. It’s striking how many haven’t gotten past that point, though. Most real estate agents and teams that I know are generating leads through their own websites, company websites, and marketing portals. These leads aren’t customers yet, and they don’t warrant a salesperson taking the time to input each one individually into a CRM.

It seems that every CRM would have a system to automatically import its users’ leads from outside sources, but surprisingly few do. Exporting a list of contacts from the source and manually importing them to your CRM doesn’t count.

At a minimum, having a custom email address that salespeople can cc when they receive new leads should be available. This can direct new leads to the CRM and add them to the contacts database without user input, but I still find that the majority of CRMs don’t have this functionality.

It’s not just the small companies, either. Some of the largest and most expensive CRMs require a boatload of integration work, upgraded modules and add-ons, and customization to make this relatively simple process work.

Ideally, a CRM should be working proactively with every new lead generation source in the industry that seems to be gaining market share. Find the lead source company, figure out how you can make the process of getting their leads out of their system and into yours easier, and advertise your ability to do so.

If a CRM is looking to the future of serving the real estate agent population, this is a huge area to focus on. Organizing and simplifying the process of lead-contact-followup is something that busy sales people are willing to pay for.

There are a few companies who are doing this now, but some sort of API or set of standards that allows lead generation companies and CRM companies to design their import/export functions to work with any other vendor would be a huge boon to making the process simpler going forward. The technical knowledge necessary here is far above my pay grade, but an intermediary conduit that brings any lead source into communication with any CRM accepting that kind of data might just blow the lead management industry wide open.

About Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a former management consultant and web developer who writes for for Inman News and REALTOR® Magazine. He is Managing Broker for Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS®. His team sells Seattle homes, condos, and Bellevue homes.

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