There's a lot of talk out there about various CRM systems. And there are a ton of options to choose from when it comes to a CRM for your home building business. Do you go with a system that is nationally recognized and has great support? Or do you go with a smaller company that is specific to your industry? Or maybe you're looking for one that integrates with your project management system. There are a lot of options and a lot of factors to consider.
In this post, I'll break down how to evaluate and select a CRM that will help you achieve your sales goals so that you arrive at the best CRM for your home building company. Here's what we'll cover:
- What is a CRM?
- What are some common choices for CRM?
- How do you evaluate a CRM? (integrations, features, etc.)
- Making the decision on your CRM. (the ideal scenario)
- The Best CRM (the one you and your team actually use)
What is a CRM and What Should It Actually Do for You?
Before you can make an informed decision about your CRM system, it's important to know what it actually is and what it should do for you. A CRM is a customer relationship management system that organizes your contacts, including prospects, customers and other connections. Within a CRM, you should be able to organize your contacts into different lists so that you can prioritize your leads and send messages to various segments of your database. In addition, your CRM should track your sales pipeline so that you can see where different leads are in your sales funnel. It should help you answer questions such as:
- How many are at the first visit stage vs. the contract stage?
- What is your sales projection this month based on leads at the contract stage?
- How many touches are my sales team members performing for each lead?
Many CRM systems are now adding marketing functionality such as the ability to send email blasts and set up lead nurturing emails (an automated series of emails). They can also provide you with data on which prospects and leads are clicking on emails and which prospects are not.
All in all, your CRM should track all your sales activity including one on one follow up with leads and where they are in the sales funnel.
What are Some Common Choices for Home Builder CRMs?
Now that we know what a CRM is and what it should be doing, let's look at several CRM companies that we see many home builders selecting (both clients and prospects). The goal of this section is not to do a full evaluation of features and pricing. It will be a quick re-cap.
Salesforce is the big player in the industry. If you're looking for unlimited features, the ability to customize your dashboards and everything else, this is going to be a great choice. Salesforce also has an API available which means you can integrate it with other systems such as a marketing automation system or a project managements system (assuming there is an API on the other end as well).
Infusionsoft is growing quickly and is a hybrid between a marketing automation platform and a CRM system. Marketing automation typically focuses on creating automated email nurturing sequences that drip on your leads and prospects over time. InfusionSoft has advanced lead nurturing capabilities as well as ecommerce.
Property Base is a real estate specific CRM that is built on the Salesforce app exchange. This may be a good option for those of you looking at Salesforce.com because it has integrations with many common marketing tools and was built with real estate in mind.
HubSpot recently launched a CRM system that is fully integrated with their marketing automation system and will be available in 2015. The price is right too...free! As a HubSpot Partner, we've been able to move over to this system ourselves along with bringing a couple clients over. So far, so good. It has many of the features you'd expect a CRM to have including reminders, notes section, the ability to create deals and segment lists.
Home Builder Specific CRMs
The following CRMs were built just for home builders and allow you to capture leads on your website with forms and has much of the same functionality mentioned above in terms of lead nuturing capability, list segmentation, one to one and one to many follow up campaigns.
How Do You Evaluate a CRM? (Questions to Ask)
Now that we've looked at some common choices for home builders, what should you look for in order to make the best decision for your company? Below, I've bulleted out several items and questions to consider:
- Is it easy to use?
- Does it integrate with any other systems you're using? (does it have anAPI)
- Example: Email tools such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact
- Example: Marketing Automation tools such as HubSpot or Marketo
- Example: Project Management tools such as Co-Construct or Build Tools
- Does the price fit your budget?
- Does it have the basic features you need right now?
- Does it have additional features that you will need in the future?
- What kind of training do they offer?
- What does the on-going support look like?
Making the Decision on Your CRM
Now that you've looked at several options, asked yourself and these companies some questions, it's decision time. What should you choose? Ultimately, I can't make that decision for you in this blog post because I don't know what your existing systems look like for marketing, sales and project management. However, I'd like to give you a few general guidelines.
- Make sure it integrates with a marketing automation system (even if you're not using marketing automation today). This is where marketing and sales is trending.
- Make sure it gives you the kind of reporting you want to see so that you can measure your sales pipeline and improve your sales process over time.
- Make sure it has all the basic features you need in terms of follow up reminders, email capabilities and lead stages. (almost every CRM listed above should be able to fit this criteria)
- Make sure it fits your budget now and will also fit your budget if you add sales people.
Above, I've done my best to give you an unbiased view on CRM system for home builders and how you can evaluate them. However, I figured you might want to know what I think, knowing that it will be a biased opinion and that I don't know anything about your goals or current systems.
I think you should sign up for the HubSpot CRM and prepare for it to come in 2015. It's absolutely free for every user on your team, has all the basic features and functionality and it integrates with HubSpot's Marketing Automation platform. Full disclosure: we are a HubSpot Gold Partner and we use their software to power our own website as well as all our client websites. However, their marketing automation platform isn't required to use the CRM.
In addition, the free CRM has a sweet set of sales tools that cost $10/month per user that allow you to track email open and clicks right from Microsoft Outlook. Imagine sending a contract over to a prospect and getting a pop up notification on your computer and smart phone that tells you when they opened it. Pretty slick!
The Best CRM
Ultimately, the best CRM is the one you and your sales team will actually use. After all, a CRM is just a tool. If I buy a hammer, nails, a saw and some lumber, a house won't be built in front of my eyes. I actually have to use the tools. It's the same with a CRM. If you use your CRM (no matter which one you select), it will be infinitely more valuable than "the best" CRM that doesn't get used.