CRM

How Do Top Homes.com and Realtor.com Compare?

by Victor Lund on September 8, 2016

House Ladder

Since internet is among the top three most important methods of generating real estate leads and online listing sites rank as one of the most valuable tools, every agent is challenged to leverage these resources for creating, capturing, and closing leads. But, how can agents effectively compare the value propositions of marketing on the most popular real estate sites? An analysis of online marketing solutions from Realtor.com and Homes.com show that their marketing tools stack up pretty solidly when compared side by side, offering a range of options to suit any agent’s CRM strategy, marketing budget, and revenue goals. Both online real estate sites possess expansive reach that enables agents to pitch their professional profiles broadly while electing strategies that fit within their budget and plan. The no-cost Realtor.com profiles promote trust relationships with prospects by detailing agents’ listings, client recommendations, ratings, and reviews. Similarly, two programs through Homes.com amplify an agents’ brand while also providing the benefit of decreasing regional competition for carry a nominal cost. For instance, the Local Connect program, available to only a select number of agents within a specific zip code, features links to registered agents’ contact information, profile, or website. An enhanced version, the Preferred Agent program, virtually eliminates online marketing competition by placing regionally-exclusive links to the registered agent’s profile only. Regardless of the price point an agent chooses, all of these programs deliver the ability to cast a wide net for maximizing brand awareness and lead pipeline development. In addition, leading online real estate sites can aid effective CRM expansion with prompt lead response tools. Both the Showcase Listings by Realtor.com and Lead Concierge by Homes.com direct all prospects solely to the registered agent through lead notification, alongside valuable consumer context such as recently viewed properties. While the Showcase Listing program automatically sends prospects an email to let them know an agent will reach out shortly, Lead Concierge answers online queries directly, e licits qualifying information, and transfers the prospect to the agent in real-time. The main distinction between these two online solutions is the degree of third party service, and agents’ needs will vary according to their budget and CRM development plan. Realtor.com and Homes.com also have agents covered for the indispensable integration of social media networking into their CRM strategy, with each site providing solutions designed for the specific scope of content marketing services required.  Realtor.com offers a free Social Connections […]

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CRM

Real estate brokerages waste valuable growth opportunities by over-focusing on new client adoption and agent recruitment instead of implementing solutions for the retention of both. Industry research shows that repeat clients spend 67% more than first-time clients, so agent and client turnover reduces a brokerage’s potential return-on-investment (ROI) for marketing and training dollars. The key to capturing these high yield sales is enabling agents to efficiently communicate with clients throughout the sales process and beyond. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution significantly boosts the ability of agents to foster long-term relationships, driving repeat—and more profitable– sales. The potential benefits of an experienced agent’s digital rolodex, or CRM, cannot be understated. Given that 80% of buyers would use their agent again, or refer their agent to others, an agent doesn’t have to engage in costly marketing tactics to convince prospects of their value—they’ve already proven it. Agents who have been with a firm for a number of years have cultivated a broad network of the most fruitful prospects. Since client acquisition costs five times more than retention, it makes business sense to provide a targeted CRM tool for agents to maintain positive client relations before and long after the sale, with the added benefit of acquiring additional new referrals. A CRM enables agents to show their professionalism and dedication at every client touch-point, maintaining a top-of-mind presence even years after a sale. Agents can create a 360 degree client view to deliver anticipatory service that increases trust and loyalty. This relationship deepens even after the sale through continued outreach via e-Newsletters, drip campaigns, social media posts and personalized communication on important dates such as anniversaries of new home purchases. More powerfully, a CRM can track response metrics such as how many past clients clicked on electronic links, providing insight into potential leads for harnessing repeat business. Providing effective tools to bolster agents’ achievement positively influences a sense of loyalty toward the firm. As consumer expectations continually rise, brokerages are coming under increased pressure to reduce commissions—which makes it difficult to retain top performers. However, an effective CRM can reduce agents’ time spent on attracting new leads, managing the end-to-end processes of closing the deal, and maintaining communication with existing and past clients. In effect, a CRM increases production with less ‘hands-on’ investment from the agent, making their time spent on each transaction more financially worthwhile. A satisfied agent is one who […]

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CRM Impact on Recruiting and Retaining Agents

by Victor Lund on June 27, 2016

victor27june

WAV Group has deep experience supporting real estate brokers on the selection and adoption of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for their agents. Sometimes the best business strategy is a simple one. All research points out that successful real estate agents have 500 or more legitimate prospects in their CRM and they actively communicate with those prospects with a customer for life philosophy. Bearing this in mind, a broker or manager can better understand customer value of agent recruiting and retention. If you have been in the industry a long time, you may know the story of Intero Real Estate in Silicon Valley. They worked with a company to build a CRM that became the cornerstone of their business. They used it to recruit like crazy from Alain Pinel and Coldwell Banker and became one of the largest brokerage firms in America under the leadership of Gino Belfari. Granted, having an agent CRM is a requirement for brokerages today, and Mr. Belfari and his partners built the business on far more than a piece of technology. But this is an iconic story that shows the representational value of implementing CRM successfully in a brokerage and the resulting value of how agents using CRM leads to customer development, customer retention, and long term success.   Agent Experience Demographics Recently, we have begun to create three categories of agents: New Colonists, Old Colonists, and Native Loyalists. The New Colonists – Those who have been in real estate less than six years and at the brokerage less than six years. The Old Colonists – Those who have been in real estate more than six years, but who are relatively new to the brokerage. The Native Loyalists – Those who are well experienced in real estate with over seven years of experience and who have also been at the brokerage more than six years. Interestingly enough, we have begun to use this methodology with all of our enterprise software adoption research. As it turns out, year six seems to have a material breakpoint in terms of behavior. At year six, the agent is experienced and routine in their behavior. Changing behavior for people who have been in real estate for less than six years is very different than changing behavior for professionals who have been working in the industry for more than six years. More importantly, it is vital to communicate differently to these groups. […]

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The two valves that constitute the heart of consulting are benchmarking and case studies. Benchmarking is measuring an industry norm. Case studies focus on telling the story of new strategies deployed by pioneers for products or tactics. Both provide organizations with insights that sharpen their aim or expand their aspiration. A great example of a benchmark is WAV Group’s report that 4 in 10 real estate professionals have not done a transaction in more than a year. Take a look at this study that surveyed data from MLSs across the nation. WAV Group recently compiled a CRM case study with two of America’s leading brokerages that are highly committed sales driven organizations. As dedicated sales driven organizations, the agent sales funnel and the agent presentation tools are regarded as the most important assets deployed by the firm. In both cases, Windermere and Long and Foster revealed the success found through changing client relationship management software providers. WAV Group invites you to download a complimentary copy of this whitepaper. In the case of Long and Foster, the company switched listing presentation/CMA providers. In doing so, they were able to level set the buyer and seller presentations across the entire salesforce. They gained design and information control. They also supported agents by delivering a solution that works on all devices – mobile and desktop. Today the company reports higher much higher utilization of broker supplied presentation tool and higher conversion rates. In the case of Windermere, they took on the goal of rolling out a CRM solution to all agents in their company and franchise. A unique feature of the CRM is that it is centered around a sales funnel and coaching by the office manager. They solved problematic adoption challenges by integrating with the company’s MS Exchange email, calendar, and contact solutions. As you will see, the sales impact in market share has been significant and led by greater sales penetration in the middle 60% of the agents. We hope that you will enjoy this study with our compliments. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. If you are exploring a new strategy within your company that you would like us to look at for a case study, please let us know. By sharing information across the industry, we will keep the broker and agent as the centerpiece of real estate trades in America. See the […]

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Agents Love MLS Newsletters

by Victor Lund on September 3, 2014

When RE Technology was founded by WAV Group partners in 2010, the goal was to provide an information resource inside the MLS system that would sharpen agent understanding of technology in real estate. We will forever appreciate MRED, MRIS, MLSListings, and MFRMLS for introducing the first 100,000 users to the service. Today, 91 MLSs and over 700,000 users have access to RE Technology as a member benefit. Because technology companies sponsor the service, there is never charge to the MLS or the broker or agent. The concept behind RE Technology is to support MLSs at delivering insightful information about technology that allows real estate professionals to make the best possible choices when purchasing solutions for their business. When it comes to real estate technology – websites, CRM solutions, digital signatures, IDX providers, virtual tour providers, and so many other solutions, the array of vendors is confusing. RE Technology makes learning about technology easy, and combines user ratings, product overviews, product descriptions, press releases, and company contact information all in one place. It was our belief in 2010 that social media, blogs, and rss feeds would take over the MLS newsletter as a primary method for communications. In some ways it has, but the MLS newsletter continues to endure. The RE Technology newsletter is MLS branded for every market. It is part of our localization strategy that organizes information for each MLS. For example, products offered as member benefits or premium MLS services are highlighted for the agent. RE Technology also informs the broker or agent if products requiring data have an active IDX or VOW data license in the market. We also include any information in the newsletter that the local MLS would like us to include. Moreover, MLSs can republish any articles or other information on RE Technology for other communications, like MLS customer magazines. For example, many MLSs are picking from the hundreds of articles about RPR to educate REALTORS on that new member benefit. Today, RE Technology sees about 40,000 daily visitors to the site. We also send out just under 57,000 emails a day. The open rate on those emails is about 22%, and the click though rate is about 50%. Apparently, article headlines play a significant role in open rates and click through rates.  The hottest topics in the industry today are How to Use an iPad in Real Estate for listing presentations (CMAs) and […]

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Advertiser’s Nirvana is CRM

by Victor Lund on August 25, 2014

If you want to see the marketing department at Lowe’s or Home Depot salivate – tell them you have a data source that will notify them of the Name, phone number, address, and information about the property they just purchased. In fact, you will even be able to tell them the closing data and the move in date. That is the kind of information that is in CRM solutions and until now, that data has not been mined for advertising. Nobody understands this better than Trulia, the company that may have the most highly adopted CRM solution in America. In this assumption, I am excluding MLS systems. MLS systems have a lot of the same data in their client servicing solutions. The NAR has significant relationships with many companies who are attacking business opportunities in the moving space. A home purchase triggers a massive spending event. I have always been curious about why NAR does not offer a free CRM solution to all REALTORS. It would fit in nicely to Realtor’s Property Resource. The positioning of RPR has been to allow REALTORS to communicate more effectively to consumers – which requires a consumer record – or customer relationship management system. Maybe that is in the product roadmap already – I do not know. The Real Estate Standards Organization, RESO, is creating a structure for transporting the customer record across applications. In the years to come, RESO certified solutions will be able to leverage bi-directional RETS or RESTful APIs to make the customer record (contact information and activities) transportable. This will allow an agent to manage the customer and related activities in any number of applications like the MLS, like broker or agent websites, like direct marketing solutions, like transaction management solutions – on mobile or desktop – anytime any where. No more duplicate customer record. But there is more. Someone will contemplate monetizing the customer record. Salesforce.com is the most popular CRM solution on the planet. At the high watermark of pricing, it costs $65 per user per month. What is the value of a lead? How much do you think you could sell the customer record for if you sell it to Lowes, Chase Bank, Fidelity Title, etc. Looking at the price mortgage is paying for leads today, having just a mortgage company and Lowes would cover the cost of the CRM. I often wonder if companies managing buyer […]

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Why are MLSs surprised?

by Victor Lund on November 5, 2013

WAV Group has been purposefully quiet during the storm of enlightenment whereby the industry pundits that recognize the role of the real estate broker in our industry.  In truth, the leading MLSs in America are perfectly cognizant of the role and needs of brokers in real estate. Frankly, many of The Realty Alliance brokers own MLSs or are standing members of the Board of Directors. Even in the absence of having a broker owned MLS or having broker led governance in your MLS, there is plenty that you can do that involves the broker in your MLS strategic planning. Every WAV Group facilitated strategic planning session segments the brokers of all sizes to measure their satisfaction with MLS service and opinion on MLS policy. MLS ‘participants’ are the first customer of the MLS. Subscribers to the MLS are the welcome guests of the Participants. If you are not a Participant focused MLS, make that a strategic goal for 2014. In strategic planning, every MLS should have a positioning statement for each of its customers. You should clearly know what you do for brokers. Complete this sentence: For brokers, MLS name is the only MLS that ____________________ for brokers. Reasons to believe this are 1) ___________________ 2) ____________________ 3)_____________________ The positioning statement for broker participants should be harvested from broker research. Broker research means that you need to know your brokers, by name! You should know where their offices are. You should know their technology partners that are powered by MLS data. As the MLS, you play a pivotal part in making sure that data gets to their systems. Granted, you cannot do this for every broker. But you absolutely must do this for your largest brokers. Think in terms of your top 10 first. Your 10 largest brokers probably absorb a large percentage of your subscriber base. If your services fail to meet their needs, then you are also failing to meet the needs of a large segment of your subscribers. Having a MLS broker focus group of 10 large brokers, 10 medium sized brokers, and 10 small brokers is a great idea for MLS. Simply asking the focus group questions about current or upcoming initiatives will be a great barometer of how they think about current or future initiatives. Sometimes you will learn that they need information. Sometimes you will learn that they have information that you do not […]

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Lead management services have been around in some format for years, of course, and many tech companies have been putting a lot of effort into delivering tools that tie the broker, office manager and team leader.  Agents historically (and still today) are inconsistent at best with responding to online leads (and are usually worse at follow-up). Brokers need to fix this! CRM providers are responding to two trends we see emerging that are changing the landscape of lead management for brokers. The first one is confounding. Agents want syndication and online advertising but only respond to about 1 in 4 leads. When they do, it is normally a “one and done” call or email. The second trend is the need for brokerages to increase their visibility, management and ROI of leads – online and offline. As a broker you need to benchmark and set goals for enterprise lead responsiveness. That means you need to see performance across the company, each office, and each agent in each office. We recently found a top-producing agent getting more than 39 leads a month from the broker who never responded! WAV Group sees four key takeaways. Office Reporting helps brokers better understand leads overall and leads by lead source. This is a fundamental requirement to managing your online lead strategy. WAV Group emphasizes that brokers use these reports to publish the facts about online lead generation. If sites are not delivering any leads to agents, show agents the results, then turn off the data feed. Don’t waste your listing asset on partners who do not perform. Syndication to 200+ websites is an online marketing mistake. Agent Lead Responsiveness helps managers understand what agents do not care about online leads. It helps the office manager open a discussion with the agent to determine a strategy for lead placement. Either the agent needs to commit to following up with the leads with broker support and coaching, or the leads should go to another agent or a relocation desk. Don’t waste them! The lack of responsiveness by an agent will tarnish the brokerage reputation with the consumer. It’s disgusting to think that a consumer would reach out to a broker on a home purchase and be ignored. Brands cannot handle this type of erosion in consumer confidence. Agent Performance is another measure on the dashboard. Not all agents are alike. If some agents are converting more online […]

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Contact Sync

by Victor Lund on May 9, 2013

Over the past few years, we have seen a shift in professional technology solutions for real estate that has been mostly characterized by “the move to mobile.” Generally speaking, applications that do not work on mobile devices, either using a mobile browser or using a mobile app, are being cast aside. But there are secondary realities about the shift that many software companies seem to have neglected, namely, contact record sync. Everyone who has a mobile device understands that contact records that are created on any device need to be synchronized across all devices. Having some contacts in one location and not another is paralyzing to any professional who needs to communicate with anyone, anytime. Given the rapid changes in contact records, it is too difficult to manually keep records synchronized, so it is fully automated today. In the old Palm Pilot days, contact record sync was a challenging and broken experience. Now it happens easily by leveraging the cloud. Understanding this, one would imagine that companies offering software as a service would tap into contact record sync in every application that requires or manages contact records. Looking to real estate, there are plenty. Here is a list of solutions that should have contact record sync that are largely missing that basic functionality. Agent Ratings, Back Office, CMA, CRM, contracts/forms, digital signature, floor scheduling, IDX, listing presentation, mobile applications, Transaction management, etc. All of these applications are about sharing information between people, and sadly you must open up your contact data base and cut and paste contact information over and over and over, as a real estate agent. Not having contact management sync with Exchange, Gmail and other standards is a huge gap in today’s brokerage and MLS systems. It is astonishing that we have not solved this problem in our industry. While you are at it, sync the calendar too. It is astonishing that so many technology developers in our industry have been so short sighted for so long. If you are in a position to influence change in our industry – add contact and calendar sync to your basic requirements. Be sure to protect the privacy of those contact records while you are at it.  

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