Between vetting lead sources, finding new ways to communicate and engage with them, and bringing existing deals over the finish line, there’s a lot on the plates of busy Realtors.
But while controlled chaos may be your default method of doing business, there’s no denying that it can be unreliable and hard to scale. In order to grow your success and perform efficiently in any market, you need a defined process for managing your real estate client database.
The good news is, it doesn’t really matter which system you use to manage your client database, as long as it helps (and never hinders) in creating an authentic, value-driven client experience for your prospects. We’ve compiled a guide on the best ways to keep in contact with your leads through organized, airtight systems that work just the way you need them to.
Let’s jump in!
A real estate client database is a key tool in any top-producing agent’s arsenal. Your database acts as a central point for engaging leads, prospects and existing clients. It stores information like email threads, prospect home search criteria, and a whole lot more.
Back in the pre-digital days, Realtors had to rely on analogue tools like notecards and Rolodexes to track these details. Then along came manual databases, typically a combination of your inbox and some kind of Excel file or Google Sheet. And that may have worked fine for a while. But as the industry continues to become more competitive and home buyers and sellers become better informed, agents now need a mobile, agile database that will update automatically, in real time.
Today, the real estate CRM is considered a must for top-producing agents and brokers. In fact, according to a study by REAL Trends in collaboration with Boston Logic, brokers who use a real estate CRM show a 26.2% increase in transaction sides per agent over those who don’t.
Ultimately, it’s not the tools that matter. It’s your ability to deliver a standout customer service that is the make-or-break for your success in real estate—but having a client database that helps you deliver on that promise certainly doesn’t hurt.
We’ve written about this fairly extensively at Follow Up Boss and while there are literally hundreds of lead management tools on the market, we find that most real estate CRMs typically fall into one of three core categories.
Even brand new Realtors need some kind of system to help them track the folks in their sphere of influence (SOI) and start consistently working up a solid network for their baseline revenue.
And there are dozens of low-cost (or even free!) database management tools to choose from. No matter which one you go with, you shouldn't have to spend more than $100 per year on subscriptions, and most of these low-cost CRMs come with a generous trial period.
Once you find yourself growing faster than you imagined and/or beginning to notice leads slipping through the cracks, it’s definitely time to upgrade your real estate client database.
At this point, you’ll want to look for a tool that offers a solid set of automations to help you offload tasks like automatically starting a nurture sequence for leads not ready to purchase, to sending Happy Birthday emails to past clients and even notifying you in real time when a lead re-engages. If you’re thinking of bringing on a VA or buyer’s agent, you’ll also want to keep an eye out for collaboration features (such as shared inboxes and calendars) that make it easy for other people to pick up where you left off.
Having more work than you can handle is certainly a champagne trouble. But if you and your team are finding yourselves juggling multiple backend logins and endlessly switching between screens, you’re going to lose out to more agile competitors.
Team CRMs enable you to consolidate all your leads in one place (no matter the source) and automatically distribute the right leads to the right agents. Some CRMs (including Follow Up Boss) go one step further by offering integrations with all your other tools and systems and providing deal tracking features to keep your team on track.
No matter which route you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the best software for every touch point—whether that’s retargeting leads with Curaytor and Ylopo or sending video emails using Loom or BombBomb.
What matters is that you use the tools and processes that make it easy for you to stay consistent.
In fact, there are plenty of numbers to backup the claim that your success in real estate will come down to two core skills:
Here’s just a handful of stats from a growing body of evidence on why you need to keep your lead communication personal and consistent:
Luckily, the right CRM can help you work your client database in a way that makes both you and your prospects happy.
Personalization isn’t just about using the prospect’s name in the subject line.
It’s a multi-layered experience that should become progressively higher-touch as a prospect journeys through your sales funnel. And with increased competition, not just from other agents and teams but from tech disruptors like Zillow, being seen as a trusted advisor is more important than ever.
So, how do you position your brokerage as the first place a prospect turns to when they need answers?
To answer this question, we reached out to a few of the industry’s top brokers and team leads. Here's what they had to say.
With the right sales and marketing workflows in place, owner of My Tampa Agent Anthony Malafronte and his team are able to recreate “the steps that get people to put up their hand.”
Rather than peppering a bulk number of leads with random check-ins, they keep a dedicated plan for each lead segment in their database. People may need to be moved to a different lead list, but they never need to be removed.
Using the Follow Up Boss Pixel, Anthony can track exactly which pages people are viewing on his website. This means his agents always know who the most active leads are and when it’s the best time to contact them.
“It's apparent when [prospects are] ready to go from dreaming to planning. We close them with ‘Let us help you plan.’ And if they say it's a year from now, great,” Anthony explains.
“We are patient enough and skilled enough to help you plan for the year so that when you go from dreaming to planning and planning to shopping, you're going to think of us.”
In 2018, Beth Nordaune, founder of The Enclave Team, spotted a big breakdown in lead management.
The team’s blanket follow up strategy just wasn’t working. So, Beth created two different pipelines:
Using Follow Up Boss, Beth and her team created tags for past clients and SOI. They also sorted leads by stage to pull lists and customize their follow up messaging to different groups of people based on where they were in the buying or selling journey.
“Making that separation for agents seemed to be really helpful. Instead of treating [them] all as one, because they are very different groups, how we treat them, how we communicate with them, our conversion out of it is really different.”
The team also uses long term Action Plans for past clients and Smart Lists for contacting their database or past clients quarterly. “It’s a different conversation with people we know vs. people we have not worked with before. It’s also a different conversation between someone who is buying now, buying someday, or when the ‘right’ property comes up,” she explains.
With leads automatically tagged and segmented inside Follow Up Boss, agents at The Enclave Team always know which conversations to have and when.
“Having a team and having a lot of changes, people get really fatigued. Having something that you need and can grow into without having to switch is key. There have been times we’ve looked at and researched other platforms, but the way Follow Up Boss communicates with different lead sources and helps with tracking is really phenomenal,” says Beth.
There’s a common belief that automation and personalization are mutually exclusive—but as we’ve seen time and time again, real estate’s best brokers boldly reject that mindset.
When asked his thoughts on the value of an automated follow-up systema, Robert Slack of Robert Slack LLC says, “We’ve had Follow Up Boss since day one. It was the best thing that came from my collaboration with Zillow.”
Robert has since switched to Realtor.com as his primary resource (you can get the inside scoop on that here) but his process still works. Leads go straight into Follow Up Boss and are distributed automatically to all 300 agents on Robert’s team.
“We’re in all of Florida so we can’t do a round robin. We need to distribute by zip code and Follow Up Boss makes that easy,” explains Robert.
Here’s a quick summary of Robert’s winning process:
- Leads are automatically added from Realtor.com straight into Follow Up Boss
- Next, they immediately receive a phone call from a team of ISAs
- New leads are then automatically added to a 30-45-day text campaign via CallAction
- Leads are automatically added to Ylopo for social media retargeting
- All leads are added to an Action Plan inside Follow Up Boss
After that, it’s all about agents getting to know their prospects.
“I say it all the time: make notes! Agents don’t make enough notes about their leads and there’s no way they’re going to remember what matters to them,” Robert explains.
For the team at Robert Slack LLC, personalization isn’t just about price range and zip code. Robert and his 12 team leaders coach their agents to take notes on everything from a lead’s family to their kids’ hobbies and the name of their favorite pet.
“If you can remember that a lead has two boys, a girl and a dog called Charlie, you’re going to really score some points. You simply cannot make too many notes on a person.” Agents add their notes straight into a lead’s profile in Follow Up Boss, so they always know exactly who they’re reaching out to.
In case it isn’t clear by now, your real estate database is the heartbeat of your business, and a disorganized or out-of-date contact list makes lead conversion a difficult task for any team. By taking time to get your database in order, you create a system that helps you close deals faster and improves the overall health of your business.
Here are three organizational tips to help you close more deals faster.
Not all leads are ready to seal the deal today. And that’s ok.
Create filters and lists that allow you to prioritize leads based on various factors such as buying stage, recent communication, or any other custom data. This takes the guesswork out of who your agents should contact next and makes it easy to optimize your follow up workflow to check in with more of the right kind of leads, in less time.
Do you know how fast your team moves when a new lead comes in? Using a smart dialer might seem like obvious advice in the post-2020 age, but a report by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) found that while over 94% of prospects expect an answer within an hour or less, only about 36% of agents respond within the hour.
But calling leads can be time consuming and not everyone can afford a team of ISAs. A smart dialer allows your agents to call a list of priority leads as quickly and efficiently as possible, with zero distraction or context switching. Agents can also see missed calls right in their inbox to make sure they’re talking to leads who are ready to talk to them.
Finally, what you say to prospects on the phone is just as important as how you say it. One of the best ways to keep a high-performing, well-organized real estate database is to have a beautifully structured call script.
According to Dale Archedkin, director of marketing and lead gen for the Global Living Companies at Keller Williams Realty in Philadelphia and founder of Smart Inside Sales:
“The best scripts are mostly composed of questions, with very little telling on the agent’s part. Agents should understand WHY they are asking questions, and which questions are the best to ask.”
“My favorite technique is asking really great questions, and keeping the prospect doing the talking. The more the prospect talks, the more they like you, and the more likely it is they will do business with you. The more the agent does the talking, the less a prospect likes you and the less likely they will do business with you,” he explains.
But how do you ask great questions?
Here’s how Dale approaches each call:
- What the lead wants
- What the lead doesn’t want
- What they will do
- What they won’t do
- What that action will gain or avoid for them
Remember, you need to make sure they stay with you the entire time so do yourself a favor and relax. Speak like a real person and always be prepared to leave the jargon at the door.
In the game of real estate, you can’t rely on your memory. A well-structured client database plays a critical role in both the way you manage your leads and the way your prospects perceive your value in the market.
At Follow Up Boss, the customers we serve best are high-volume solo agents and teams of three or more agents who are relentlessly focused on lead ROI. We help them close more deals faster, hold their agents accountable, and prevent opportunities from slipping through the cracks. Sound like a system you could use? Contact us for a free trial today!