September 07, 2017

5 Ways To Increase Agent Engagement With Your Real Estate CRM

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In an industry based on relationships and networking, CRM systems are fundamental to running a successful business. Not only do they make business operations more manageable, but for many companies these systems have actually been shown to deliver extremely positive ROIs - often averaging around 8X or more! Sounds great, right?

But on the flip side, about one-third of companies claim to be less than satisfied with their CRM. So where is this large discrepancy coming from?

Turns out that, by far, the biggest factor in determining a business' success with a CRM is implementation. Many managers make the mistake of assuming that user engagement has already been guaranteed during the selection phase of the project and that merely putting it out their for their teams is all that it takes. They wanted direct integration with Zillow. You gave them it. Everyone’s happy, right?

Wrong.

New 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 ensuring effective and continued user engagement. For this reason, why we've laid out five simple steps you can take to effectively roll out your new CRM to your agents. 

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

User engagement starts early.

If you want your 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 your current system 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 pipeline tool. Who knows? You won’t - unless you ask them.

2. Include agents on your implementation team

Regardless of how well-structured your change management plan is, it's inevitable that there will always be some amount of disruption whilst you implement new software.

Compromises will need to be made, but 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 devious business practice 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 using the software and 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 will not only cause headaches, but can be financially detrimental as well. 

3. Offer agents training that suits their schedule

Another common lapse that leads to CRM implementation failure is not providing your team with sufficient training on the new platform. When agents haven't been properly shown how to use a new software, there's a good chance that they will become frustrated as they try to learn it through trial-and-error, and could even cause negative impacts from misuse. This is why developing a strong training plan is paramount. 

When developing your training plan, be sure to consider 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 their days 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 completed around 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?”

Well, 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 lunch, Starbucks voucher), and larger ones (cash bonus, extra day’s PTO) for your top performers will make engaging with CRM training that much 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 modifications 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 regular intervals. After all, your agency’s needs will evolve as time passes so it makes sense that your CRM should too!

Nail the implementation, and you’ll have a usable, dynamic CRM that can meet current challenges head on and drive a strong ROI. Fail the implementation, and you’ll end up wasting time, money, and causing a lot of headaches for both yourself and your team.

(Guest post by Kathryn Beeson of DiscoverCRM)