Get the Most Out of Online Contact Management

A Web-based contact management system gives you flexibility and helps cut the learning curve so you can spend more time on activities that close more deals.

April 1, 2005

Dear Mr. Internet:
I want to use a contact manager that I can access through the Internet so it is accessible from anywhere. However, the ones I've checked out all seem to have a steep learning curve and I just don't have the time to learn it well enough to use any of them to their full extent. What do you suggest? —Bill Hetrick, RE/MAX Alliance, Jackson, Miss.

Dear Bill:
First of all, congratulations on making the commitment to incorporate a contact manager into your business. The real estate sales industry has become so complex and competitive that staying on top of your game is very difficult without this kind of resource. Also, you are smart in leaning toward the Web-based versions of contact management systems. In addition to being accessible from anywhere, this approach provides the answer to your learning curve conundrum.

Let the Experts Run It

Imagine if you were to build a brand new house, and your contractor pointed to the pile of material and tools you needed to get the job done and said to you, "There you go; it's all yours!" You would think he was crazy not to provide the tradesmen (i.e., experts) to use the tools and materials to build the house for you. The same applies when you consider all the different tools we have at our disposal as salespeople to build our business. The key to success here is to let the experts run the tools for you.

Top Producer 7i is the Web-based version of this very popular real estate contact manager. Even though it’s run through a Web browser, it has most (if not all) of the functionality of the original Top Producer, which is the version that you can install on your PC. Unfortunately, it has much of the same learning curve as well. But because it’s Web-based, this opens up the possibility of having an expert (i.e., virtual assistant) run it for you remotely.

For example, a real estate professional recently hired REVA Teams (a team-based real estate virtual assistant support company) to set up and run his contact management system for him as follows:

Situation: Client needed a solution to follow up with leads from his Web site over a six- to eight-week period for top-of-mind marketing. This will be used to showcase how he keeps in touch with prospects as he creates a marketing proposal for a 50-unit building development.

Software: Top Producer 7i

Problem: E-mails need to be sent out weekly and need to be individualized for the different types of prospects, such as:

  • If the prospect needs to rent, they do not receive any letters.
  • If prospect is working with a specific salesperson, they only get the first letter in the series.
  • If the maximum price of the home they are looking for is less than $100,000, they receive the first letter only.
  • Keying off of the time frames indicated on the online forms that prospects filled out:

    • “Immediately” gets the first two letters.
    • “30 days” gets the first two letters.
    • “2-3 months” gets the first three letters.
    • “4-6 months” gets all six letters.
    • “More than 6 months” gets all six letters.
  • If a prospect unsubscribes at any time throughout the campaigns, e-mails should stop immediately.
  • All e-mails will follow applicable e-mail rules (CAN-SPAM, etc.)

Solution: The sales associate has his virtual assistant team do the following tasks to initially set up and execute the above plan remotely using Top Producer 7i:

  • Help create verbiage and information with the sales associate for all letters.
  • Create different contact types for the different prospects.
  • Develop document for assistant to follow as he or she calls the leads. This will help the assistant know which contact type the prospects are so that the assistant can place them in the right field in the contact management system to flag for automatic follow-up.
  • Start action plan depending on what kind of prospect.
  • Add letters into Top Producer 7i.
  • Create action plans using the letters mentioned above that the virtual team adds to individual prospects according to the rules that automatically send the right letters to each contact.
  • Track leads monthly to determine return on investment (ROI).

Do you see how powerful a well thought-out, comprehensive, and consistently executed contact management system can be for your business? And because the contact management system used was Web-based, all this effort can be done offsite, saving the sales associate a great deal of time and money. Yet, without the help of expert virtual talent, the above would intimidate even the most dedicated sales associate, rendering a great money-making idea impractical.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Web-based contact management systems may require a separate license for each party that uses it, which means that if you use a virtual assistant to run your system, you may have to purchase a license for the virtual assistant as well.

Don't Pay Top Dollar for Amateur Results

Any time you do something outside your core competency (e.g., anything outside of sales, listing, negotiating, etc.), you are paying top dollar for amateur results. Or worse, the job simply doesn't get done at all. Whether it's contact management, online lead tracking, or drip mail systems, it is much better to let a pro consistently run these tools and systems so you are freed up to do what you do best!

Editor’s Note: Michael Russer owns a controlling interest in REVA Teams; otherwise he, his company, and staff receive no compensation whatsoever from any other third-party vendors or service providers mentioned within this column.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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