September 07, 2017

5 Ways To Increase Agent Engagement With Your Real Estate CRM

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If you implement a suitable CRM and your workforce uses it, you could be looking at an ROI of $8.71 for every dollar spent on the project.

That’s a very big if though - particularly considering that one in three companies admit that their CRM benefits have been only partially successful. Why such a discrepancy?

One key mistake managers make when implementing CRM is to assume that user engagement has already been sealed during the selection phase of the project. They wanted direct integration with Zillow. You gave them it. Everyone’s happy, right?

Wrong.

Software implementations are always disruptive to some degree. If they’re poorly managed, they can snowball into chaos. The implementation stage is therefore ‘make or break’ when it comes to user engagement.

The good news is that there are some relatively simple steps you can take to keep your agents on-side throughout the process.

1. Listen to your agents’ requirements...and act on them

User engagement starts early.

If you want your estate agents to think positively of your new CRM and endure the workplace disruption that implementation will cause, you need to lay the groundwork during the selection phase.

To state the obvious, your agents are a key stakeholder in any sales software you purchase. Ask them what they do and don’t like about the system you are replacing, and what features they’d like to see in its replacement.

Maybe they want mobile functionality so they can update prospect info the minute they’ve finished showing them around a property. Or perhaps they’re dead set on a state-of-the-art pipelining tool. Who knows? You won’t - unless you ask them.

A word of caution though: going to the trouble of gathering key requirements and then ignoring them when you come to select your new CRM is a recipe for disaster. Your agents will feel betrayed and mutinous, and it’s probably better to just not ask them in the first place.

2. Include agents on your implementation team

Regardless of how well-structured your change management plan is, there will be an amount of disruption whilst you implement new software.

There is nothing you can do about this, and trying to correct it is largely pointless.

Compromises will need to be made. Don’t make the mistake of compromising on your agents’ behalf - also known as ‘piling all the inconvenience onto the people who weren’t invited to the meeting’. This is a fairly common - and very devious - business practice deployed and despised the world over, and will scupper any chance of keeping your staff onside throughout the implementation.

Having agent representation on your team is essential. They will let you know which compromises are workable and which aren’t.

After all, they’re the ones making your business money - compromises that won’t work for them won’t work for your business, and trying to force them through will hurt your bottom line.

3. Offer agents training that suits their schedule

Obviously you’re not about to let your entire workforce loose on your CRM without showing them how to use it.

Equally, have you considered how the type of training you offer will affect your agents’ willingness and ability to engage?

Field agents, for example, want to be out selling property. They have their own schedules and spend a good deal of the day out of the office. Getting them all in one place for face-to-face training would be logistically challenging, and has the potential to breed resentment - they want to be out there earning their commission, after all!

Instead, consider offering online e-learning modules. These can be fitted round people’s day-to-day tasks, offering a more flexible way to train your workforce.

4. Gamify your training plan for added incentives

But wait!” you say. “My agents are so busy and so focused on hitting their sales targets that they’re never going to sit down and waste their time on training modules! How can I encourage them to engage without booking out time from their calendars and making them do it?”

Salespeople usually work on an incentive-based model - a basic salary, plus commission to encourage and reward them for the deals they close. Why not employ the same tactics to encourage them to complete their CRM training modules?

In a study by TalentLMS, 89% of those surveyed stated that a point-based system would boost their engagement, whilst 62% said that leaderboards and the opportunity to compete with colleagues would motivate them to learn. Use this to your advantage.

Small rewards for everyone who completes their training tasks on time (free food, Starbucks voucher, extra hour for lunch), and larger ones (cash bonus, extra day’s PTO) for your top performers will make engaging with CRM training that bit more appealing. It might foster some healthy workplace competition too.

5. Listen to your agents’ feedback...and act on it

Rather pleasingly, we’ve come full circle.

Your CRM responsibilities don’t end when you press the ‘go live’ button. There will always be tweaks to be made and customizations which could make your system run smoother - and just as you asked your agents what they needed at the start of the process, you should make a point of collecting their feedback on your CRM’s performance at semi-regular intervals.

After all, your agency’s needs will evolve as time passes. It makes sense that your CRM should too.

Do this right, and you’ll have a usable, dynamic CRM that can meet current challenges head on. Do this wrong, and you’ll have a piece of software that hit peak relevance as soon as you implemented it but gradually tails off.

(Guest post by Kathryn Beeson of DiscoverCRM)