Many, if not a majority of agents still track their listings and sales on paper.
During my recent experience building and manning tech support for a SAAS real estate CRM, I was a little surprised to find out how many. A good number of agents use Online Transaction Management Platforms (OTMP) such as DotLoop, Skyslope, Transaction Desk and others. There are many real estate CRMs that also do transaction management. Some agents are using OTMPs only to the degree that their broker mandates and nothing more. Others look to the CRMs that have the OTMPs integrated and do a combination of both.
OTMPs are for listing and transaction management.
CRMs do a lot more than just transactions. They are about creating a process through activity plans or workflows. They are much more flexible and powerful. The question is, should you do your transaction management in your CRM or do you use an OTMP?
OTMP’s have advantages over most real estate CRMs
…but they also have disadvantages. Like anything else, using an OTMP versus a CRM comes down to what features it has and how much time it will save you. One of the best features of OTMPs is that they all allow you to share documents and invite people into the transaction. On the surface that sounds great. The thing is, getting other agents and party members to use it can be problematic. Some simply won’t use them. As agents and consumers get more and more used to doing things online, it’s getting better. But you can’t force everyone to always use it.
CRMs that have transaction and listing management capabilities in them
are common and many are quite good. What most lack, is that ability to share docs and access. When you’re using a CRM without that access, you can miss it. That said, what are the advantages of a CRM? A very big one is not having to do redundant data entry into two programs. When the CRM is integrated, that issue becomes moot, so if you want to do a combination, find yourself a CRM that integrates with your OTMP. Note that for the most part, only a couple of the bigger ones are integrated with very many CRMs. Another downside is that OTMPs have a very specific purpose, and it all revolves around transactions.
What we do, as real estate agents, requires much more process automation than just transactions and listings. We have to deal with other sets of tasks that we do repetitively as well. Think of all the things you do in your business, and how many of them you could put into an organized plan, or process. Some examples are Customer appreciation party planning, Tax planning reminders, marketing campaigns, employee on-boarding and such.
Most importantly, the biggest downside to using both an OTMP and a CRM
…is the lack of central focus on where to get everything done. When you have to go to several different places to see what needs to be done, mistakes are made more easily. With a team, it’s worse. If it isn’t already obvious, in my experience, I come down on the side of having as much in one place as possible. If you have a team, it’s even more helpful when there are less places to find out what you need to do, and re-enter information you have already entered elsewhere.