Lauren Carlson is a CRM Analyst at Software Advice, a leading CRM software comparison review website in North America. Software Advice is often referred to as the authority on software selection and just last year alone helped over 25,000 people and organizations find the right software. Click here to see IXACT Contact’s profile on Software Advice and read the amazing reviews on IXACT Contact’s real estate contact management and email marketing system.
Lauren is an expert on CRM (customer relationship management) solutions and has an extensive knowledge on real estate CRM in addition to CRM systems geared towards a number of other large verticals.
Lauren has a particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation (including real estate marketing automation), and lead generation. She has written a variety of articles on these topics which can be viewed on the Software Advice Blog. Software Advice has worked with countless Agents across a wide array of brokerages in their search for the perfect real estate sales tool, real estate sales software, and real estate marketing software solutions.
IXACT Contact recently sat down with Lauren for a special Q&A blog post. “There are many great options out there as far as CRM systems go,” she says. “There’s always a lot to talk about with regards to CRM solutions. In fact, it’s hard not to get excited!”
IXACT Contact: Hi Lauren, thank you so much for sitting down with us today.
Lauren: Absolutely. Always glad to speak with you guys.
IXACT Contact: For an individual Agent in the market for a real estate CRM software, what do you think are some important considerations they need to think about?
Lauren: For the individual Agent, I believe the most important consideration is access. Matthew Collis actually wrote an article recently about the increasingly mobile world in which we live. Most Agents are not sitting behind a desk eight hours of the day. They are out in the field with their clients, looking at properties and managing relationships with home buyers, property managers, etc. They need a tool that can give them immediate access to important client and property information at the exact time they need it. For example, IXACT Contact provides wireless sync with all wireless devices, putting the power of the real estate CRM into the hand of the Agent.
IXACT Contact: Some people say, “Why do I even need a CRM system? Is it really that important? Can’t I stick with just using Microsoft Outlook?” What would you say to these folks?
Lauren: Sure you can stick with Microsoft Outlook. But if you take that route, here’s what you can expect: scattered data that is not backed up or secure; inability to link client profiles to appointments; lack of mobile access; limited reporting capabilities to measure property sales and performance. For the Agent who is just starting out, Microsoft Outlook might seem like a great tool, and it is, but you have to think in terms of the future. As you grow your network and scope, you need to have a tool that will grow with you.
IXACT Contact: Makes complete sense. Do you believe that Agents should choose a real estate CRM geared towards their specific industry?
Lauren: I think that anyone in a specific industry should aim to find a CRM solution that has been specifically designed with that industry in mind. There are multiple reasons to opt for this kind of system, but the top three are: it includes industry best practices, it is already customized for your specific needs, and it will speak your “language.”
IXACT Contact: Shifting gears a bit, talk to us about lead generation. For the average real estate agent, how can they use a CRM system to improve their lead generation efforts?
Lauren: The biggest benefit CRM has in terms of lead generation is helping to ensure that no leads slip through the cracks. Without CRM, agents are tracking leads on paper, in their BlackBerry or iPhone, on a post-it, on business cards. This is not an efficient way to track and manage leads. The contact management feature in a CRM system allows the user to input every possible lead into the system, add detailed notes and even set reminders for follow-up. Another great feature that many CRM systems have is campaign management. If you are an Agent looking to break into a new area of town, you want a way to find business there. CRM systems provide marketing campaign templates that can be modified and customized to target your audience. And, because everything is automated, the entire thing can be set up and deployed fairly quickly, freeing up the Agent to get back to focusing on clients.
IXACT Contact: I’m sure you read the recent study conducted by PCMS Consulting and One Cavo. They found that close to 75% of online generated real estate leads are lost. What did you think when you read this?
Lauren: I think there is a hole in the funnel, and that hole is lead nurturing. You can generate as many leads as you want, but if you don’t have a plan past generation, then it’s a waste of time. Lead nurturing provides the Agent with tools for building a relationship with leads until they are ready to talk mortgages.
IXACT Contact: Exactly right! We always tell Agents to never ever underestimate the value of lead nurture programs. We’ve really been amazed at the fantastic user reviews we’ve been fortunate enough to receive on the Software Advice site. Why do you think IXACT Contact has been such a popular option for real estate sales professionals in the market for a real estate contact management software?
Lauren: There are a lot of options on the market for real estate CRM. I think IXACT Contact is differentiated by the fact that it is designed specifically with the Agent in mind. You guys have over 20 years of experience in the real estate industry, and I think that comes through in your product.
IXACT Contact: Thanks Lauren. With regards to marketing automation, do you believe it’s important in real estate sales? Why/ why not?
Lauren: I think marketing automation is important in real estate sales and any other industry with customers in multiple segments. Marketing automation allows Agents to segment their clients and market to each segment specifically and intentionally. It also helps Agents better measure their marketing efforts to find out what’s working and what’s not. For the individual Agent who is running his/her own business, time is money, so you want to make sure you are spending yours in the most valuable and effective way.
IXACT Contact: Talking about saving time, the iPad is so popular these days, especially among real estate agents. What’s your take on companies optimizing their CRM system for the iPad?
Lauren: I think it’s a no-brainer. I read an article on Mashable stating that desktops would be irrelevant in three years time. It’s a bold statement but one that I has been echoed across the enterprise. We know that the end-user is in charge and that companies are developing accordingly. The preference for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets is overwhelming, and honestly, any company that is not keeping up will be left in the dust.
IXACT Contact: Before we sign off, when you’re not talking CRM, what do you like to do on your spare time?
Lauren: Well, I live in Austin, which is the live music capital of the world, so I really enjoy soaking up the live music around town. I also sing and do a bit of performing myself. I also enjoy running, trying every breakfast taco in town, and volunteering at a local charity, Austin Pets Alive!, which is a no-kill animal shelter.
IXACT Contact: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Lauren. It’s a pleasure as always!
Lauren: It’s my pleasure as well! Thanks!