By Maddie Jostol, Senior Marketing Manager
Evaluating a real estate CRM in today’s noisy world is overwhelming. What will actually make a difference in your business? What should brokerages look for in a real estate CRM that will truly give you a competitive advantage?
It can be tough to know what features to prioritize, how much you should be investing, and what questions to ask. It’s important to go in knowing what pain points you’re trying to solve for and what your priorities are. There are a lot of solutions out there, which leaves you weeding through everything to pick a system and provider that will not only fill your current needs, but also grow with your brokerage in the future. Trust us, though… when you pick a good one, it will all be worth it.
The truth is, when you onboard a truly innovative, well-designed real estate CRM that fits your business model, it can make an amazing impact your bottom line.
Here are a few things that a good, modern real estate CRM should have that will undoubtedly enable growth in your business:
A system that understands your business.
First of all, you need a CRM that works for real estate. The sales process in real estate is drastically different from that of other industries. The way in which agents work leads, how marketing is done, the data necessary to complete a transaction, and the way goals are tracked are all unique to real estate. Choose a system that aligns with real estate transactions and compliments the way you do business.
Automation that improves productivity.
Any modern CRM should be built with automation in mind. Automation enables your agents to do more, with less time. It means they’ll be able to rely on technology to do the mundane, repetitive tasks so that they can focus on what they do best: building relationships.
Look for a system with marketing automation, such as email marketing that automates touch points with an agents’ sphere. MoxiEngage, for example, has Neighborhood News, which sends out personalized market snapshots to an agents’ sphere every month without them lifting a finger.
Event better, look for integrated predictive analytics that help your agents stay ahead of the game. Agents are attempting to stay in touch with hundreds of people in their sphere. Imagine being able to provide them with a system that not only automates many of those touch points, but also leverages data to notify them when someone in their sphere is likely to list.
Integrations that matter.
Speaking of automation, data integration is key to having a CRM that truly drives your business forward. Integration with your MLS should be a non-negotiable. Agents shouldn’t need to waste time on repetitive data entry, and your property data should always be up-to-date and accurate. When evaluating a real estate CRM, look for integrations that increase agent productivity, in turn, increasing your brokerage’s profitability.
Lead routing should be a given. Integrated websites are best, because they route leads generated on your brokerage or agent websites directly into an agent’s CRM. On top of that, any lead providers (Buyside, Offrs, and Flipt are a few of our partners, for example) should be integrated so that those leads are routed into the CRM for easy follow-up.
Integration with your digital transaction management provider is also incredibly valuable, as it streamlines the entire transaction process for the agent. For example, agents can launch a DocuSign Transaction Room directly from their MoxiEngage account. The more we can simplify an agent’s workflow through valuable integrations, the better.
Reporting that promotes business growth.
At the end of the day, agents need to know: where does my business stand? Am I hitting my targets? Am I behind on my annual goal? Automated reporting enables and agent to always know the status of their business. Goal setting is step one, but agents also need the ability to track progress towards that goal.
As an example, since MoxiEngage is integrated with your MLS, an agent’s goals dashboard is automatically updated with each completed transaction, which enables them to see a realistic view of where their business stands without having to manually input any data.
A future of innovation.
It’s in your best interest as a brokerage to seek out a CRM that values innovation. The real estate industry is in an era of change and disruption, which means that in order to gain that competitive advantage you’re looking for, you’ll need an innovative technology platform behind that CRM.
Of course, we’re a bit biased since we’ve seen our clients drastically grow their businesses with MoxiEngage – the average agent with a MoxiEngage license sees 54% more transactions than those without, and the agents who fully utilize it see 117% more transactions over their peers without it. You can see why we’re biased. Regardless of the technology provider you choose to partner with, be sure to check these boxes when evaluating a new CRM. Choose a system that not only fits your business now but will grow with you.
If you’re in the process of evaluating a CRM for your brokerage and would like to get advice from one of our experts, reach out to us here.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
Agent adoption of brokerage tech is one of the major obstacles facing virtually every brokerage out there, it’s just part of the industry we’re in. You work hard to carefully choose and curate the perfect tech stack for your brokerage, so I personally would understand if a lack of adoption stings a little – or a whole freaking lot. Don’t let your confidence take a hit from it, as it likely has nothing to do with you, or your quality of choice.
Every agent has their own system and methods for completing their tasks, making it completely understandable for them to be hesitant about starting from scratch with new tools. In today’s world, it’s one of the biggest ways that you can leverage your data, so it’s important not to give up on it. The more your agents utilize your tech, the better it is for everyone.
Here are three steps to consider taking in order to increase agent adoption rates and get your agents hooked on your tech:
1. Choose easy to use tech.
If your technology is extremely confusing, hard to use, and doesn’t offer onboarding and training support – run. Once agents get comfortable with the tech they use, it can take a whole lot to convince them that it’s worth it to make a switch. Once they do decide to make the move, you want it to be easy-as-pie for them to adopt your tech.
That means it’s important that you choose technology that is connected. And yes, we’re talking about an open-platform! The more your tech tools talk to each other and share data, the more value there will be for you and your agents, and the less work it will require in order to get it. That will be a major plus in the minds of your agents, as efficiency and productivity are the keys to being successful at what they do. Also, make sure that your tech provider has an amazing support team – you want your agents to have access to the assistance they need, when they need it the most. If agents are finding understanding your tech to be a road block preventing them from reaching the productivity levels they are used to, they will have no problem dropping it, and understandably so.
2. Host educational training events.
Agents are busy, which is why you need to make sure it’s ridiculously easy for them to get training. Hosting events is a great opportunity for you to get your agents in a room together and give them the info they need to succeed with your tech. Bribery will likely be necessary, but it will be worth it in the long run. Whether it takes buying them cookies or offering up a raffle for tickets to the ball game, we’d suggest that you provide some kind of incentive to at least get them in the door.
Once they arrive, make it interesting. The last thing you want is for them to be trapped in a room for an hour, bored out of their minds, wishing they had never showed up in the first place – we’ve all been there. Create an exciting and interactive experience that gets them involved and allows them to interact with the product. We’ve seen trivia and jeopardy games among the many creative activities our awesome clients have whipped-up to make the training process more enjoyable and, dare I say, fun.
Use these events as an opportunity to explain why your tech is so valuable to their sphere of influence, their data, and to the health of their work-life balance. Don’t just focus on the “how,” focus on the “why” too! Building value in the minds of your agents is essential in order for them to see the benefits that it will bring to them, therefore increasing the likelihood that they actually invest the time into adopting it.
3. Provide incentives.
In addition to the bribery previously mentioned to encourage agent attendance to your training events, you will also need some more of it to make sure that they consistently use your tech. As you know, adopting the tech in the first place is the first hurdle to tackle, but making sure that agents are continuing to keep up with the training and taking advantage of any shiny new features is another goal that can be tough to accomplish.
Reward agents who are using not only one feature of your tech stack, but all of the tools that it has to offer. Interview those agents about how it has impacted their professional lives and send it out to the other agents in your office. It’s one thing for you to tell your agents that your tech will better their lives, but it will be so much more impactful when they hear it directly from one of their own!
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
You are one busy professional. Life as an agent is hectic, to say the least. From hosting open houses, to creating content for your marketing channels and engaging with your sphere (don’t even get me started on keeping up with emails), your to-do list seems to go on and on.
With a career like yours, it’s easy for things to get overwhelming and unorganized. That’s why it’s so important to set yourself up for success and be thoughtful about how you structure your professional life. Doing this will help achieve a greater work life balance.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Make weekly appointments.
And by that, I mean appointments with yourself. Dedicating specific time every week to complete your tasks will set the tone for a stress-free life. Not only will it increase your amount of distraction-free work time, but it results in higher quality work all around as opposed to what is produced when scrambling to get things done last minute.
These appointments may be along the lines of dedicating the same morning every week to writing blog content or adding content to your monthly newsletter, and another to calling people within your sphere. An additional area to focus your efforts on a weekly basis is paid advertising to ensure you’re always growing your business, but you probably won’t need a full morning for that one – more like 5 minutes.
Turn your notifications on.
The next step to getting organized is holding yourself accountable to the goals and appointments you set for yourself. You are human, which means that you likely forget things from time to time. Although it’s a normal part of life, it can affect your reputation and hinder the high levels of productivity that you strive to reach. This means that keeping yourself on track will require more than a few sticky note reminders.
Turning on your calendar notifications is a great way to never miss an appointment and keep yourself on track. Adjusting your settings so that you get one notification the day before your appointment, and another one an hour or two before will keep you constantly prepared for what is to come and ensure that you never miss a beat.
Focus on efficiency.
Did you know that removing clutter from your home eliminates 40% of housework? The same idea applies to your professional life.
Even if you are being more mindful about when you do what, it doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to further maximize your efficiency. Leveraging the tech tools that you have available to you is a great way to keep your organization up to par. Making sure that your data and contacts are organized will decrease the amount of time you spend doing busy work and increase the amount of energy you can put into areas that will really make a difference. Organizing your database happens to be one of the most essential steps to successfully engaging with your sphere. Refer to our Agent’s Guide for Engagement with Your Sphere for more tips on that! Hopefully all these tips will help organize your professional life and get you to a work life balance that is more sustainable.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
How you think on a daily basis could be having a profound influence on the results your business is generating. Having a positive mindset can help you thrive in your life and business, and ultimately, make you more money. Your mindset affects your health, well-being, relationships, success, and income – so we highly recommend you start paying attention to what kind of head space you’re in. Here are a few ways in which leveraging a healthy, positive business mindset can make you a stronger agent.
There has been extensive research supporting the power of positive thinking on a person’s health. The thoughts running through your head have a strong influence on the state of your mental and physical health, undoubtedly affecting your work life. When you think positively, you’re better able to realize those thoughts, bringing your goals and dreams into reality.
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi
In addition, positivity is infectious. Those around you, including your clients, colleagues, friends, and family, will take to your energy and feed it.
Having a clear mindset could very well increase how much you’re able to achieve in a day. Improve your productivity by getting clear on what your priorities are and getting realistic about what you’re able to take on. Managing these expectations with yourself will allow you to better manage your workload, ensuring you get done what you need to, while leaving time for your life outside of work.
We hear a lot about the importance of work/life balance, but it can be tough to achieve as a real estate agent. After all, you generally work out of your home, car, and cell phone, so it’s difficult to “turn off” work when it’s time to focus on your personal life. When you have clearer focus while “on,” it’ll be easier for you to turn off, while still meeting your goals.
Change is inevitable. In order to move your business forward, you need to be willing to embrace change.
One way to think about this is to consider the difference between having a “growth” mindset and a “fixed” mindset. According to Harvard Business Review, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.” People who tend to have fixed mindsets get stuck in their ways and tend to be change-averse. When you remain flexible, however, you open up windows of opportunity that might’ve otherwise been closed off.
“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” – Mark Victor Hansen
Keeping your eye on the ball will ensure you get where you want to go. Many people embark on a new year with little sense of direction. By setting goals for yourself, you’re giving yourself a vision for where you want to go, which sends you in the right direction towards your desired success. Start every year by setting your GCI goal. It’s a simple, easy step that can make all the difference. Second, believe in yourself and your own success. Then, work towards it and watch it come to fruition.
“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” – Andrew Carnegie
Our final piece of advice is to work for a company you believe in. Choose a brokerage that shares your values – you’ll feel significantly more fulfilled at the end of every day. Remember why you joined your brokerage and why you feel accomplished every time you sell a home. These thoughts will contribute to a positive, balanced mind. Leverage the power of your mindset to propel your business forward and reach toward your goals.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
Agents have traditionally been thought of as salespeople, which, is understandable since on the surface that’s what they do. They sell houses. But there is so much more to it than that. As a real estate agent, you’re running your own business.
You have to take care of everything from marketing, to selling, to transaction management, and even the nitty-gritty like keeping your financials straight and properly filing taxes. You have to be entrepreneurial in that you need to take responsibilities for your business’ successes as well as its challenges, and you need to get creative when it comes to growing your business.
Here are some tips to growing your real estate business by using a CEO mindset:
Focus on the bottom line:
At the end of the day, you’re working to make a living. Just like any CEO, you have to pay attention to your bottom like and focus on activities that drive revenue growth for your business.
Get a system in place to track your sales and your expenses. If you aren’t tracking the second half of that equation, you’re missing half the story. You should always begin the year with a financial goal and work towards that. It will serve as a benchmark throughout the year to ensure you’re generating the cash you had hoped.
“The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’… Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
Many agents struggle with time – there are never enough hours in the day. Because you can’t do everything. Especially as an agent, you constantly have a lot of balls in the air. You need to be able to prioritize each and every day to ensure you’re spending your precious hours on things that will truly have an impact on your business. Technology comes in handy, here. Rely on a task management system that will assist you in keeping track of everything you need (and want) to do and prioritizing them to improve efficiency.
“You have to be very nimble and very open minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp
Change isn’t easy. However, our industry is changing rapidly, which means you need to set yourself up for success to ensure your business will grow along with the industry and market. Be flexible, embrace change, and make sure you stay ahead of the game by adapting your business as necessary.
Think outside the box:
Get creative and be innovative. It’s ok to follow trends and use proven methods, but take those to the next level. What else could you be doing? Where else could you take your marketing efforts? Drive business by thinking outside the box and delivering service that is a step above what else is out there. In order to stand out in today’s competitive market, your marketing efforts not only need to keep up, but they need to be ahead of the game. Leverage your brokerage brand and your personal brand and think outside the box to build your business.
So, although you already wear tons of hats, it’s time to put your CEO hat on and drive your business into a successful future.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
The economy ebbs and flows, and with those fluctuations come different concerns from home buyers and sellers. As an agent, you need to be prepared to walk your clients through the fears and unknowns, serving as a trusted guide. Your clients will want to ensure their home purchase is a smart (and affordable) one.
When it comes to the affordability of a home, interest rates make a massive difference. They’re on the rise, which means you’ll likely be hearing – if you aren’t already – major concerns being voiced from your clients.
Inventory is low.
With today’s thriving economy, the housing market is hot all across the US. What we’re seeing is that there is extremely low inventory in the major markets. For agents, this means winning a listing is tougher than ever. For buyers, this means competitive bidding wars and cash offers swooping in.
NAR’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers revealed that in 2017, the typical home was on the market for just three weeks.
Many real estate professionals are starting to feel like there’s more agents than there are listings. While this isn’t quite the case, it can certainly feel as though there aren’t enough listings to go around. According to NAR, there were 5.51 million existing homes and 612,000 newly constructed sold in 2017, and there were 1,334,668 NAR members as of July 2018. Tight inventory increases the feeling of competition and adds pressure to an agent’s ability to win new listings.
Buyers are fatigued.
The home buying process can be stressful and discouraging, often causing buyers fatigue, which stems from seeing a lack of inventory in the market. Houses aren’t on the market long enough to go through the typical home buying process. Decisions are made sight unseen, inspections are waived, and above-asking offers are made. This can be incredibly discouraging for a buyer, surfacing fears around timing, affordability, and their ability to find the perfect home.
Interest rates are on the rise.
Freddie Mac published research showing the steady month-to-month increase in interest rates so far this year, starting at 4.03% in January 2018 and increasing to 4.57% in June 2018. This continuous rise is what has caused a stir across our industry, worrying many home buyers.
As published by Bloomberg, “The average rate for 30-year home loans climbed this week to 4.38 percent, the highest since April 2014, according to Freddie Mac.” Shanne Sleder, a mortgage broker based in San Diego, commented on the data, saying, “At this point in time, people don’t like it but they can still make it work. It hasn’t gotten to where people are starting to back out of deals yet. As we get closer to 5 percent, that’s when they will start thinking about it.”
These rate increases are serving as both a concern and motivator for many buyers who want to purchase before they can’t afford to do so. Some buyers want to wait it out, hoping for a drop in rates, while many others want to move quickly, confident that the upward trend in interest rates only gaining speed.
You don’t need to be an economist predicting the future of the housing market, but you do need to be able to assist your clients through the process as they navigate through market information such as interest rates. Stay up to date with forecasts, but more importantly, know how you’ll respond to your clients’ concerns, no matter what twists and turns the market makes.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
In the world of real estate, we all hear the seemingly constant buzz about the ever-evolving technology that is shaking up our industry. The traditional ways in which real estate has been conducted are slipping away, and brokerages and agents alike are being left scrambling to define what they do, and exactly how they ought to do it. The movement to incorporate technology into real estate practices is tempting and, in many aspects, necessary to keep up and maintain a competitive edge. The pressure to stay current with the movement can be daunting, in fact, 48% of all real estate firms consider keeping up with the tech advancements to be one of the most significant challenges they are facing today. The question that arises here is: what technology does one actually need in order to achieve success?
When searching for new software for your brokerage, make sure you’re confident when it comes to exactly what benefits you are hoping to gain from bringing it on board. Further, that you’re aware of the tools you will need in order to fully utilize it. The process of acquiring new software can be costly and have the potential to put a major strain on the financial health of your brokerage if done incorrectly. Simply handing your agents a fancy new program and leaving it at that won’t anyone any good, and definitely won’t rock your agent’s socks off. In order to see the jaw-dropping ROI you are looking to get out of your software, it will require you to invest the time and money into the implementation process so that your agents are continuously being trained on how to use it and actively receiving value from it.
In light of this, avoid the common mistake of buying technology solely for the sake of buying technology. Instead, raise your bar high and purchase software that you deem absolutely essential in order for you to achieve success, and then gear your efforts toward making sure that you are getting everything you possibly can out of it. After all, what’s the point of having flashy technology if you don’t get value from it? No point. The answer is that there’s absolutely no point to that at all.
Here are a few steps we suggest you consider taking before sealing the deal to maximize your success:
Step One: Clearly define your goals.
Look beyond the buzz and clearly define what you are hoping to achieve by incorporating new software into your business. After you decide on a goal, articulate what metrics you will use to gauge when you’ve successfully reached it. Clearly you want your goals to be centered around the main interests of your company. Here are a few that we here at MoxiWorks like to focus on:
- Improving the quality of your marketing efforts
- Increasing lead generation
- Strengthening CRM
- Increasing agent productivity
- Retaining current agents
- Recruiting rockstar new agents
The main takeaway here is clarity. Be able to state what your goal is, and how you will measure its success.
Step two: Look for the missing parts.
Once you define your goals and establish your metrics, it’s then time to create a game plan for how you will go about achieving them. This requires first conducting extensive research within your brokerage to ensure that you are utilizing the skills you already have, making worthy investments in the technology, and avoiding the expensive mistake of double-dipping in resources. Start asking questions to get a clear insight into what you already have covered, and what you will need to look externally to find.
- What types of resources do you already have within your brokerage that can help you reach your goals?
- What steps can’t you complete without the implementation of new technology?
- What does your timeline for onboarding new technology need to look like?
- Will you need your technology partner to supply onboarding assistance and continuous training, or do you have tech savvy agents that can support others in the process?
Asking questions like these will assist you in finding the missing pieces within your own team, and help you pinpoint exactly what you will need to get out of your technology partnership.
Step three: Treat yourself to a technology shopping trip.
After you discover what kind of technology you need, it’s time to begin the hunt for the right company to partner with. Taking the time to complete the previous steps beforehand will make this process much more straight forward. Make sure to compare different options and take on a “What can you do for me?” approach. Brush up on the major players for that kind of software in order to be perceived as educated and become more likely to get a better price.
At MoxiWorks, we know that you have a unique set of goals and needs. This is why we created the MoxiCloud, an open platform of tools that are designed to help you reach your goals within a variety of different segments of your business. We even have a team of amazing Account Managers available to help your onboarding run as smoothly as possible and ensure that your agents have the tools they need to achieve incredible levels of success with our platform. Our clients are happy with our plug-and-play style, and we want you to be too. Take a look at what they have to say.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
It’s a cut-throat market out there. Inventory seems to become increasingly scarce by the day, and sellers continue to hold tight to their reign as the power players of the real estate world. With agents scrambling to find a competitive edge, it’s no surprise that some of the tactics being used are stirring up serious controversy within the industry.
Enter: pocket listings. The actual usage of the term “pocket listing” can be somewhat confusing, as it is often used to describe multiple types of property listings that agents have different intentions for. Put simply, a pocket listing is a signed property that an agent has acquired but hasn’t listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). In some cases, the agent intends to list it but simply hasn’t yet, however, for the most part it means that they have a property and intend to sell it to someone in their sphere without ever even placing it on the MLS at all. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to put this method on your radar because the secrets out – and clients are asking about it.
The topic of pocket listings is a fiery one among agents because it tends to walk on a fine line between tactical and, arguably, unethical. Agents are, in compliance with the Code of Ethics, required to do everything in their power to ensure that they get the best offer for their client. Those against the practice claim that withholding a pocket listing from the MLS presents the risk of missing out on higher offers that could result from making it accessible to the general public, therefore failing to act in the best interest of the client. Transactions for pocket listings also generally remain in the hands of the listing agent, as they often represent the both the seller and the buyer. Some opposed to the practice also express concern that some agents are too biased in favor of it due to the potentially higher commission in it for them, and fear that clients might not always be well educated on the ramifications associated with the practice.
Although these risks likely account for why pocket listings are usually not considered to be the standard practice in real estate, sellers occasionally prefer it and it has the potential to give agents a notable advantage. Not only can the limited exposure component of the method offer a more private experience for the seller, but it can also simplify the offer process all together and speed up the transaction time. For sellers who are wanting a quick sell, this aspect can be a major incentive to sell their home as a pocket listing. By avoiding listing a property on the MLS you lower the amount of wide spread interest and walk-throughs but, in the right situation, you can also increase the quality and seriousness of the interest received. This brings it back to the agent- because pocket listings take the MLS exposure out of the equation, the quality and health of your CRM and overall sphere plays a major role in how successful you can actually be with this strategy. Not sure if your sphere is up to par? Take a look at this piece we wrote to help you gauge where you stand.
Buyers also occasionally prefer to make offers on pocket properties because less competition means that they are more likely to avoid the grueling bidding war process. Again, depending on the situation this can be negative for both buyers and sellers, but some continue to prefer its more simplistic approach and pursue it anyway. For the sake of transparency, some in the industry feel as though agents should always present pocket listings as an option on the table for their clients. This could be risky for both the client and the agent if handled improperly. As the agent, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re practicing within the laws, which vary among states, and making the pros and cons associated with the method abundantly clear so that sellers can make informed decisions and you can cover yourself against any potential violations.
Like I said, this topic is complex, and people are all over the board in relation to how they feel about it. The practice is very unregulated, meaning there aren’t reliable statistics reflecting how many agents are actually engaging in it. It does, however, seem safe to say that it’s usage is significant considering tech companies, like this one, are viewing it as an opportunity to create a structured platform for it. Regardless of whether you believe this approach to be an epidemic or a tool, it’s important to analyze its effect on the market from all angles because let’s face it- you’re bound to run into it eventually, and you’re going to want backup.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
As seen in Mile 62 eMagazine.
Agents rely on their brokerage for coaching and guidance. Your brokerage tools and resources directly contribute to their success and are what make them feel like their career is supported. As you and your managers coach agents on the importance of a CRM and how they should best utilize such a system, guidance has to be specific. The first step to using any CRM is to get your database of contacts cleaned up and uploaded. So, how many contacts should they have in there?
Simply put, the bigger your sphere of influence, the more people within your sphere who will be buying or selling a home. Growing their sphere of influence is vital for growing a sustainable business. For agents, growing a real estate career means growing your sphere of influence. It’s all about making connections and being known in your area as the trusted, go-to person for real estate. Leads are getting scarce as the competitive market continues to heat up. Agents need a sustainable book of business filled with opportunities for repeat and referral business. So, when it comes to contacts in your CRM, how many is enough?
Historically an agents’ database was a list of contacts kept in their phone. Those days are long gone. While this is a fantastic start, an agent’s book of business requires and deserves more care than that. Those contacts should be synced with a system that enables the agent to truly engage with those people as well as organize and grow their business.
Having contacts organized and loaded into a CRM enables agents to truly nurture those contacts. They can automate touchpoints to stay top of mind, segment their database as necessary, and keep track of conversations they’ve had and the history of their relationship with each person.
So, what’s the magic number? We recommend agents have a bare minimum of 100 contacts in their CRM. Once you hit 100, your sphere likely extends past close friends and family to include contacts you can market to and generate leads from. It’s a large enough pool to ensure growth, with people who are not only part of your closest spheres, but have their own groups of friends and acquaintances to refer you to. You sphere is constantly expanding – as people in your sphere communicate with their own sphere, your reach increases.
We recently looked at user data for our Moxi Engage CRM – focusing on users with at least 100 contacts, three or more sales flow conversions, and three or more contacts in an automated marketing programs. We found that these users typically close 31% more sides than users who aren’t leveraging the system in such a way.
At the heart of the sphere-selling methodology is relationships. Each person in an agent’s database represents a relationship that will contribute to their success. Referrals are the highest quality leads you can get other than repeat business. A strong sphere is the number one way to generate referral leads, as long as that database is well taken care of.
By York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks
As we all know too well, there’s a feeling of impending doom when it comes to the future of dollars retained by the brokerage. Brokerage margin compression has been accelerating in the past few years especially, but no one seems to be discussing legit ways to battle it. And last I checked, hope is not a strategy.
A few Moxians attended the Gathering of Eagles event that REAL Trends puts on every year, and here’s what the retained company dollar average for brokerages across the nation looks like over the past several years:
The brokerage dollar is ever-shrinking. Some may argue it isn’t a big deal since home prices have gone up, compensating on a raw dollar basis. That only works in a market with rising prices, and we all know that merry-go-round will stop at some point. We need a real plan for dealing with margin compression – it’s a core problem our industry faces. Don’t forgot that 25% of the RealTrends 500 didn’t make it through the last recession. Do you want to be part of that 25% when the next one hits?
In the face of all of this the “disrupters,” as they like to call themselves, are putting massive pressure on the need for the brokerage to have a technology offering to their agents and technology isn’t cheap. Even as a technology guy myself, I am not shy to admit it. So, how do you thread that needle? How do you buy the best technology, so you can have the best offering to agents in a world where you, the brokerage, don’t have margin to work with?
To preface this, I absolutely stand by my original viewpoint that the traditional brokerage, the impenetrable fortress that it is, has the most valuable asset that exists in the entire industry: relationships with agents, and the agents with the consumers in their sphere of influence.
With that said, here are what I believe to be viable elements of a plan for traditional brokerages to combat margin compression.
Open Platform – Not a shocker
You all knew this was coming. I won’t dive deep, but future-proofing can easily be done by getting your brokerage on a proper open platform that allows you to plug in new tools and unplug old tools just like power strip. Having an open platform means retaining your current technology investments and maintaining a foundation for all the technology changes to come in the future. And don’t be scared by claims that the disruptors will build better technology themselves internally. Over $1B has been invested in real estate tech each of the last two years, so no one company has a lock on building the best technology in every category. Having an open platform that allows you to take advantage of the best of real estate tech today and in the future trumps a “we can build it all” approach every time.
Say it with me: Recruiting, retention, AND productivity
Pick great tools that actually drive agent productivity as well as recruiting as retention. Industry wide, if you ask any broker, “what’s the most important thing in your business?” they’ll say to recruit and retain. But that’s wrong. It should be recruiting, retention, and productivity. If you focus on productivity as a major pillar of your business, it amplifies your recruiting and retention, and it’s where you actually make money. Having non-productive agents at your brokerage doesn’t make you money, it costs you money.
Many brokerages chase the shiny object, so it enhances their recruiting and retention efforts, but it doesn’t move the needle. To that point, it’s imperative to eliminate the shiny objects and steer clear of the temptation of them. They will end up costing you more than you ever thought.
Technology is NOT a single expense line item
Don’t think of technology as a single expense. Think of technology and marketing expenses together, because the two worlds have fundamentally blended. Digital marketing is inherently fused with technology and the other way around. As proof of this, an ongoing trend across all industries is the blending of the CTO and CMO roles.
Technology is not a necessary evil expense item, but as something to be used along with other marketing activities as a combined marketing and technology spend. What form of marketing these days doesn’t involve technology? Almost none.
And while I’m on my soapbox, can we please stop talking about expenses and start talking about investments? Every decision you make to spend money on something should be thought of as an investment. That means that you should expect to have a return on your investment, have a plan for making your investment work, and measuring your return over time. For example, in our case we check agent performance with our tools – agents in brokerages that are our customers do 40% more transactions when they use our stuff. That’s real productivity, and real top-line growth. Make investments and grow your business versus “managing expenses” like an accountant.
Trying to save your way to prosperity almost never works, so get on with a proactive plan to invest in a technology platform and tools to boost agent productivity. Not only will your top line grow, but you’ll be able to better stand your ground in negotiations with agents over their split, because they’ll understand that you’re helping them grow their business vs. just offering them a desk and the ability to rent your brand.
My call to action: have a plan. Focus on agent productivity. Have goals and measure yourself to them. Use technology and digital marketing to support your plan. The great news is that the traditional brokerage fortress is very hard to penetrate. But even the most impenetrable fortress can get sacked if the King doesn’t have a plan for defending it.