#144 Mail Right Show We Discuss CRMs That Help You Grow Your Real Estate Business

In this episode of the Mail-Right Show we discuss CRMs and how they will help you grow your real estate business connected to you really getting real connected to online marketing and getting real leads. Here’s list of the leading real estate agent CRMs that we discuss during the show. I also have done a detailed review of some of these CRMS that we discuss during show here.

LionDesk
Top Producer
Follow Up Boss
HubSpot
Contactually
Wise Agent

Here’s A Full Transcript Of Our Discussion 

Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right show. This is episode 144. I’ve got my great co-host here Robert. Would you like to introduce yourself quickly Robert?

Robert: Sure. My name is Robert Newman. I am the founder of Inbound Real Estate Marketing, which is an online marketing company. Mostly it’s a blog though, inboundREM, and if you want to learn something about Real Estate Marketing, you should come check it out.

Jonathan: That’s great, and I’m the founder of Mail-Right. We’re a software platform that helps you get quality leads with an emphasis of getting those leads from Facebook. And in this episode folks, we’re going to be talking, we’ve had a bit of a change of heart. We were going to talk about SEO for Real Estate Agents, but we’re going to talk today about CRMs, and CRMs that are specifically suitable for Real Estate Agents. Aren’t we, Robert?

Robert: Yes, we are and just as a suggestion, because audience, we are literally going on the fly. We made this decision about 5 minutes ago because we had a whole thing planned out and we had talked about it and set it up. So I’m going to suggest Jon that we actually kind of, that we talk about the CRMs that you put on your most recent blog post on the Mail-Right website.

Jonathan: Yeah, I think we’re going to add to the discussion also LionDesk,  I forgot to write about that. I might do a total separate piece about that actually, for the blog. But let’s start with the top of my list. But I thought our pre-discussion, your observation that you should really, but I think what I was going to say is that we’re going to discuss, there is no perfect CRM. It really just depends on the type of agent you are, doesn’t it? 

Robert: Correct. Yes, and I haven’t moved off wanting to talk about that at all. I was just going to coordinate it into the CRMs that you had mentioned.

Jonathan: Yes.

Robert: That’s all I was referring to.

Jonathan: Yeah, that sounds great. So let’s start with one of the biggies, Top Producer.

Robert: Sure

Jonathan: And what do you think are some of its strengths and what do you think are some of its weaknesses, Robert?

Robert: Okay, so Top Producer used to be one of the main CRMs inside the Real Estate industry and it has not been keeping up with the functionality that you need such as texting. It’s never had a really strong internal, it’s not built for inside Real Estate salespeople. And I define that kind of Real Estate salesperson as somebody who sits at their desk and calls a lot of leads, really works a database. And that’s actually a fairly rare kind of Real Estate Agent, but Top Producer’s horrible for that kind of agent. So actually, while I’ve looked at it and I know the tool well, I stay away from it. I don’t end up recommending it a ton because in none of the areas that it develops itself is it top tier. I wouldn’t put it at the top of any particular category. I would say if you really pushed me into a corner, I would say that Top Producer is good because it’s been around for so long. It integrates into a lot of other tools, number one. And then number two, it’s reasonably priced. That’s what I would say about Top Producer.

Jonathan: So because we sprung this decision. But I think it was the right decision for this episode. Got any idea about price? What is it roughly? 

Robert: I thought it was, and I’m reading off your plan, but I thought it was from $10 to $100 is what my memory is saying.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Robert: All the plans are like, and they’ve got a few different tiers and they obviously, as with all CRMs, they always have like this recommended tier and it’s always one of the pricier options. You’re not going to use the $10 a month plan in most cases.

Jonathan: Obviously not. 

Robert: Right. But I would love to steer our conversation, Jon, in the direction of talking about the types of Realtors and then kind of connecting that into tools. Instead of talking about the tools, like the tools that you wrote about was Top Producer, Follow Up Boss, HubSpot, Contactually and Wise Agent. And what I would like to say is that before you choose a tool or call an expert, I think that we should be talking about how do you pursue your business. In other words, do you go out and do you knock on doors? Do you send out mailers? Do you use Facebook Marketing as your service guides people to do? Do you use SEO leads or digital? I think that Digital Marketing, most of the time, you actually would follow-up with most of those leads the same kind of way and need the same kind of tools on the backend. So I’m going to say that, but you should figure out how you’re going to generate your leads before you actually worry about a CRM. What do you think about that? That’s what I would say.

Jonathan: Well, it’s a part of the discussion that’s not often discussed so I agree with you. It’s just how you form that in the conversation. But I think we can start off with that by going on to another one and Follow Up Boss. Because I think it really fits into what you’ve just said. So, just give a quick, your initial thoughts around Follow Up Boss. But I think it then really fits in quite well to what you were just saying. 

Robert: Well, in the spirit of transparency, Follow Up Boss has been one of my favorite tools to recommend and it’s one of the tools I end up talking to people about a lot and it does a number of different things very very well. It allows you to be an independent agent or manage a team of people and, one, as an individual, it allows you to set up Marketing automation. It creates processes for you. And a process is, I send out an email and I send out text and these are what those, the email and text says and this is what happens the moment that a client’s information is entered into Follow Up Boss, which can actually be automated. So your Digital Marketing systems can send the information to Follow Up Boss and then Follow Up Boss does these automated things all automatically based upon the receipt of the lead. And Follow Up Boss does that very very well. And what’s more, it adds a very friendly dashboard where you can see the touches that have been done automatically. And then, also if you train your team right, you can see the touches that your team has made for lead that follow-up on the process.

And Follow Up Boss does that more intuitively and better than most other tools that I’ve ever looked at. And so, I love Follow Up Boss. That’s all, I mean, what can I say. I would use Follow Up Boss if I was in the Real Estate business. I don’t use Follow Up Boss interestingly enough.  I use another tool that’s on your list which is HubSpot and I’ll explain why.

Jonathan: Wow, really, why?

Robert: Because I am not the kind of salesperson that Follow Up Boss appeals to.

Jonathan: You’ve brought up an interesting thing already. That’s interesting, I apologize for that.  But I think the yellow area about Follow Up Boss is it’s probably is not designed for that single Real Estate Agent. You can use it as a single agent and it’s totally possible to use it if you’re a single agent. The price might seem a bit stiff compared to some of the other systems that we’re going to discuss. But if you’re looking for the most powerful, the best UX interface design folks, it’s probably still worth it. But it’s more designed, really for small, it’s initial target audience I would say is this agent that’s got four or five associates being underneath them. Would you agree with that?

Robert: I would, I would agree that Follow Up Boss is a tool that’s designed mostly for small teams or small brokerages. I would say that its efficiency is, and small can be defined by just a hand full of people. Any time you have more than one person and you need to track everybody as a unit, I think that’s when Follow Up Boss comes into play. I would say that it would probably work well for about up to maybe 30 to 50 agents and at that point, it might be a little harder to manage. But then again, at that point, if you’ve got that many agents working for you, you probably have a sales management resource in place that’s managing the tools and the team and that’s probably what you need.

Jonathan: The only thing I would say about Follow Up Boss is, yes. When it comes to functionality in UX Designer, I think it’s brilliant. But I wouldn’t say, and you could apply this to all these systems, but I would say because of the level of different things it’s doing and the power that it provides, it’s not the most simplest thing to set up initially.

Robert: I totally agree.  I think that Follow up Boss, if I had to put a number to it like 1 to 10, I would say that Follow Up Boss is maybe a 6 or a 7 in terms of difficulty to set up because there is systems and processes and if you are experienced in technology, I’d say you’ve got anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. But if you are not experienced in technology, if technology is new to you, I would say a tool like that might take you, you might have to set aside a week or 2 to learn the system and try to figure out at what points are you setting up your processes and how does that look like, and then how does the tool work and how do you manage the team from within the tool. And here is the challenge Jon and I think you are subtly pointing it out. For the tool to be effective, you absolutely have to sit there and study it before you implement it, because if you are going to give it your team, you have to be their go-to person and you also have to set up requirements, that say, “Hey, everybody’s got to use this, end of discussion,” or else it’s a waste of money, as are most CRMs.

Jonathan: Well, as you were saying that, I was thinking I just don’t want to put people off Follow Up Boss, because the same things we were saying applies to most of these systems, but you’ve got to be aware. They have on-boarding procedures. They have good documentation. They have training videos. They have all the things that you expect with a mature well-designed system like this. But on the other hand, it’s still not something that you’re just going to sign up and by the end of the afternoon, it’s going to be working for you, unless you’ve got a lot of experience with Follow Up Boss.

Robert: True facts.

Jonathan: It just isn’t going to happen like that, is it?

Robert: No, no, and I want to move into another tool because I mentioned earlier in the conversation that I don’t use Follow Up Boss. I’m not a Realtor so that’s not a surprise. But here is the funny thing, with my set of skills, I don’t think I would ever use Follow Up Boss, even if I was a Realtor. I would always stick with HubSpot.

Jonathan: Right.

Robert: And here’s the reason that I would stick to Hub Spot. Now, in Real Estate, this is going to apply to very few of our listeners because it’s going to apply to very few Real Estate agents or marketers of any kind. HubSpot is designed for a Digital Marketing expert. If you know what you are doing, HubSpot is 10 times more powerful than any other tool in my opinion, because it acts as, it is a great Call Centre centric. I can call from HubSpot, register my calls, record my calls and make all my notes using HubSpot by itself. In addition to that, it has a Marketing plugin that takes all the information collected off my website and automatically sends it into HubSpot, which means that all my Marketing sequences are literally 100 percent automated without me ever having to touch. What does that mean?  That means if somebody uses a contact form on my website, they automatically get a series of emails from me without me even having to do anything. They are entered into a Marketing sequence without me having to do anything. My list is then curated, managed and downloaded automatically into MailChimp, which is where I send out my newsletters from. The challenge though is that Follow Up Boss, you were just mentioning, “Hey, there’s a setup time”.  HubSpot, I’m still setting it up and I have been using it for 6 months. It’s extremely robust and dynamic, but it’s definitely not for your average Real Estate person or even most of your Real Estate people. It’s too dynamic. It will take a long time for somebody to learn how to use HubSpot and set it up.

Jonathan: The only thing I could see in the Real Estate industry using HubSpot if they were to a big regional brokerage. Let’s say we’ve got over 100 agents and they’ve got a team, a digital team and they are some kind of HubSpot solutions aimed for that size of regional broker list. But they say they didn’t want to utilize one of those. They wanted a more generic solution, but something that had a track record that was powerful. They could probably look at HubSpot. But that’s the only kind of user in the Real Estate industry that I think that could use that. Because it’s not cheap either, is it?

Robert: Well, the plugins that I’m using, I’m only spending $50 a month on it. But I am using only a limited number of their plugins. It can get real pricey real fast because it’s $50 a seat. So, if my team was on it, it would real quickly get up $100, $200, $300, $400 a month. So, it is not nearly as cost effective as many of the other systems. And as you point out in your article, it is not designed for Real Estate.

It could be adapted to Real Estate quite well, but it would take a real knowledgeable person operating the system to make that worthwhile. And when you measure it up versus these other, because we got into this conversation and I kind of wanted to grasp onto that thread. The only Real Estate professional that should really look at it is a hardcore inside Real Estate person, maybe with a website that they’ve got. That one type of Real Estate person with that very set of specific tools that they’re already using might benefit heavily and a single person, by the way, a single agent, not a team. That one kind of individual, of which I think there are very few, that person might really benefit from HubSpot. All the automation would make their job much easier. It’s set up better than any of the other systems for phone calls, so that person. And it’s set up better to manage your mail lists for you. It does all that very very well.

Jonathan: Yeah. I think we’re going for our break folks. When we come back, we’re going to delve some more into some of these CRMs. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.

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Jonathan: We’re coming back, folks.  We’ve had a feast about CRMs, another techy conversation. I love it. I totally agree with what you were saying before the break about HubSpot. It’s really, like I say, I see it as a regional brokerage with maybe 100 plus agents where they’ve got a post like, Digital Manager, Digital Outreach Manager and somebody that either has got previous experience with HubSpot or thinks that it’s still the right tool. Somebody like that I can see using it but only that type of individual. Let’s go on to another one, LionDesk. What do you think of Lion Desk in general?

Robert: Again, we’re touching on a tool that is, I have two tools I recommend in terms of CRMs, and that is LionDesk and Follow Up Boss. Now, LionDesk is what I recommend to a single agent. So, if an agent is calling me and it’s not a Broker and they don’t have a team, I’m recommending LionDesk, because it does is it all. It sets up your Marketing processes, it can text, it can record phone calls. I do believe that they’ve just added in the feature to be able to send videos and emails very similar to BombBomb. So, they can do all of these different things inside the same tool plus they have a pretty decent contact dashboard. So when you add all the things that they do and the fact that they’re cheap in any comparison to some of these tools, and the fact that they’ve now got the video. I haven’t looked at that feature yet, but if they manage to do a reasonably okay job, they’ve literally just cut BombBomb out of your Marketing expense mix and that would be a huge advantage for LionDesk. At that point, LionDesk becomes the hand down recommendation for just about everything.

Jonathan: We spoke a few months ago, I think it was Tobbe from LionDesk and I think it’s going to be a kind of not feature-rich as BombBomb, but it’s going be usable, their video, but it’s going to be a bit cut back, which is totally fine because BombBomb is very powerful and they have added a lot of other elements to it. But if you’re just using video occasionally, it’s probably too much. They were kind of sweeping statements really. It’s back to how we started this conversation and the point that you clearly made, Robert. It’s really around case usage, isn’t it?

Robert: Right. And think that, I’m sorry, go ahead, my bad.

Jonathan: The thing is with LionDesk, do you think there’s some of, I was going to use the word problem, but that’s not the right word but I’m struggling to find, because I wouldn’t say using Follow Up Boss is a problem but it’s just the power and complexity and your having to work out, oh, I’m struggling now. You’re also combining it in the way that you or your agency works, the scripts that you are going use. There’s a lot of factors you’re trying to accomplish. Are those factors also there with LionDesk as well?

Robert: I would say that LionDesk is a little easier to use because you don’t have to, like in terms of set up time because every time you start saying that you’ve got a team, there are team dynamics that come into play such as, I have to insist that my team uses the tool for the tool to be valuable. I have to manage my team within the tool and I have to set the tool up. With LionDesk, you just have to set the tool up. Is there still a level of complexity? Absolutely. No doubt about it. Is it quite as complex as Follow Up Boss? Because of the nature of the tool, I would say, I’m inclined to say no but I’m hesitating because LionDesk has more, they’re trying to be the jack of all trades inside the CRM business for Real Estate, which means that you have this very long set of things that LionDesk does. And what that forces you to do when you’re looking at the tool for the first time, is you have to try to figure out which of these features you need. So, unless you are a CRM expert who has a real good understanding of what your own Digital Marketing plan is, you have to go through and figure out which elements of this tool you want to use. And yes, there’s a learning curve to doing that and I think almost everybody is going to have it and I think the funny thing is they’re going to discover, as you already mentioned a few minutes ago, they really don’t need to use all the, it’s like a Swiss army knife.

Jonathan: Initially, I was a bit hesitant in recommending Lion Desk, because it actually competes with some of the things that Mail-Right does. But even though, I might change my attitude about this but I didn’t want Mail-Right to become a CRM. If I did ever decide to do that, it would be a very basic one. 

Robert: Sure.

Jonathan: Because there’s systems like Follow Up Boss and other systems that I think do it very very well. About 8, 9 months ago, Follow Up Boss decided to really aim their pricing and their focus on small teams.They did have a single product that was aimed at the single agent that maybe had a couple buyers associates. But I was a bit hesitant with LionDesk, but I see where they are coming from. But it’s such a good price that you could still just, what about the actual core of a CRM? The core of the CRM is note taking, managing who you’re going to call that day or having a system that can text out when somebody fills in a form or something, those kind of core functionalities. Do you think it does those really well?

Robert: I think it does. Though I have to be honest. The level of detail that I like to get into which is, I like to use these tools.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Robert: And be able to come from a place of, I’m a user and this is my experience and I have not used either LionDesk nor Follow Up Boss. I have reviewed them, I have looked at them.

Jonathan: I’m exactly the same as you, Robert.

Robert: So, it’s like I’ve seen them, I’ve seen how they work and I’m a guy that uses a CRM every day myself and has been for the last 30 years so I have strong opinions about that because I’ve been using these tools for so long and I still use HubSpot. HubSpot is a core piece of my business, but I can’t really, I think that’s the other part and I would like to say this and get it out for our audience. One of the things that I’ve noticed inside of Real Estate is there’s all this conversation about CRMs, managing your data. It’s the big topic right now, which is funny because it’s about 4 years, they should have been talking about this 6 years ago, but Real Estate is always 10 years behind in technology. So now, everybody is talking about it now. You have to think about how much time you’re going to be spending inside your CRM.

And the answer is for most Real Estate salespeople, the answer’s going to be less than 5 percent of the day if they calculate it. So, with all of that being said, most of the time, most of these tools such as BoldLeads, and probably Mail-Right and Real Geeks, they all offer rudimentary CRM, a place that your information comes and gets housed in. The only time that I recommend that you move that from one place to another, to another set of tools is if you understand really, clearly that a specific set of your process will not be served by the tool that’s being provided for you such as automatic text or an Email Marketing process that is automatic, it has nothing to do with you and it kicks in the moment the lead is delivered. In that very rare circumstance, I’m going to then say, “That’s the functionality that’s unique about LionDesk or these other tools and that’s why you should use them. If all you’re going to do is, “I’m going to log in and look at information and be able to call it.” The basic tool that most of these services offer is going to be great for you. It’s going to be fine. 

Jonathan: So, you know, I totally agree with you. I know it’s a bit boring folks but it is what it is. I compare it to like golf really. You’re a reasonably good local golf player and you think buying, these are power tools, so you think buying a set of golf clubs that’s aimed at the professional or the Quasar professional is going to improve your game. But is not actually. Getting more coaching and improving your swing, the fundamentals is probably going to improve your golf much more than buying a Quasar pro set of golf clubs. On to the next one, Wise Agent. I’ve looked at Wise Agent. It was over about 9 months ago when I looked at Wise Agent and like I say, it was a review. I have to point that out to people. Reasonably priced. I found the interface to be very very dated and I found some of the functionality interesting but the actual interface, I found really dated and I found some of the things they were doing pretty clunky.

Robert: Okay.

Jonathan: But the price compared to some of these systems, what I’m going to say to quickly finish off with Wise Agent can be applied to LionDesk. They were doing a lot stuff in Wise Agent and it’s always a balance between, should you offer that option or should you just offer integration with the leader that offers that option. And it’s a bit like our discussion when we mentioned LionDesk and BombBomb and there’s no easy answer to that. Should you integrate video into your system as what LionDesk has decided? Or should we just offer a method of being able to use BombBomb’s system with us? It’s the ongoing debate, isn’t it? Because it’s another service that you have to pay money for. 

Robert: Right.

Jonathan: If you’re the casual user, you’re not going to want to do that. So having that ability in your CRM is good. But on the other hand, if you’re just a casual user, is it really that important to you? So it’s ongoing. There is no answer to that really, is there Robert?

Robert: Not really. And again, it comes down to the kind of agent that you are, how you’re getting your leads. And another thing about CRMs and about making decisions about CRMs is that you should understand what your lead flow looks like. A good percentage of the debate about CRMs relates to a lot of these digital lead producers that do produce a lot of leads because Facebook marketing done right produces a lot of names that you need to go through. And Wise Agent brings up one of those things here that I haven’t used this feature, but they have one thing that they list here that I haven’t seen anybody else list, which is they’re saying that they go out, search for social information from the lead information that you give them. Now, if they do that, that’s a Spokeo like feature. So, Spokeo is the best lead fulfiller that’s out there. So, what you do is, you take a little information, you put it in Spokeo and now you learn a ton more about your prospective client. And if you’re doing a digital lead service where you’re getting like a 1000 names, like BoldLeads will do that, but they’re very low quality with very low return rates.

So, if you can get a whole bunch of other information on that prospective client, like their LinkedIn profile and other things like that, you have a much better chance of getting a higher contract rate from that person if you have a tool that’s pulling all that data for you automatically.  It’s not something that you see a lot, and it’s only useful to you if you’re generating a high volume of low-quality leads, which is going to happen if you are using Facebook Marketing to gather your leads. So, again, it comes down to what kind of agent are you and how you’re pulling in your leads. Because all these people doing referrals, they don’t need any of this crap. So they are going to go, like there’s these guys and their family like or something like that. Anyway, they’re these very famous Real Estate Trainers that train people to do only referrals. 

Jonathan: Yeah.

Robert: And they do need the CRM, but they don’t need all these other tools on the CRM, because they’re not getting their leads in such a way that they need Automatic Drip or anything else. So they don’t need all of these tools. Wise Agent, the only thing that I, because I don’t know Wise Agent, let’s just say that. I have not sat through the demo. I’ve not really looked at the tool. What I just did right now is I pulled up a list of the features and looked at it and I’m playing off your commentary about it. But I’m going to say the only thing that really stood out for me is this pulling of information from other places.

Jonathan: Yeah. What I think we’ll do folks, we’re going to wrap it up. We’re going to have a little bit of bonus content, i.e. we’re going to continue the discussion which you will be able to see on the Mail-Right website with a full transcription and links to everything that we’ve discussed so far in this podcast. So, if this conversation has been interesting and you want to find some more, go to the Mail-Right website and there will be a continuance of the discussion and all the links that you require so you can find out more yourself.  Robert, how can people find out more about you and what you are up to Robert?

Robert: Please visit my website inboundrem.com 

Jonathan: And make his day. Leave a comment and say, “I’ve come to your website  Robert because I heard you on Mail-Right.”

Robert: Please. Yes.

Jonathan: That would make his day, wouldn’t it?

Robert: Yes it would, yes it would. I would love that. That would be brilliant.

Jonathan: That would be great. And if you want to find out more about me, go to the Mail-Right website or go to my Twitter feed, that’s @jonathandenwood. They’re the best places or the Facebook page. We’ll see you next week where we’re going to be talking, getting you better leads for your Real Estate business through Tech. We’re just Tech Divas folks. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.

 

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