*Note: this article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse
Most people picture real estate agents with a phone in one hand and a computer in the other – juggling all types of technology to manage listings and escrows on the run. I know these agents and have been one of them. But are agents as good at utilizing technology as they pretend? Their businesses depends on being nimble and tech savvy, right? Well, most agents like to think of themselves as tech adopters, but the reality is a bit more complex.
One recent study found 95% of top producing agents use customer management software of some kind to interact with current and prospective clients. Yet just 10-20% of the agent population as a whole uses these types of technology platforms.
Of course, most agents today have a smartphone, email account and website. These are basic tools of the trade. But not many go the extra mile to use technology to really make their own jobs – and their clients’ lives – easier. That’s a shame, because there are several high-impact, low-cost apps agents can use right now to generate more leads, clients, deals, and revenues.
To be clear, I’m not talking about full-scale CRM systems or complicated workflow management platforms. I’m not even convinced these expensive products are necessary; most agents keep contacts in their phone and do communication via email, so there is usually not much value in re-entering this contact data into a CRM platform. (I know this from experience as I shelled out a lot of cash for a CRM system I never really used.) In fact, the technology tools most useful to agents are often lightweight apps that take just a few minutes to download.
Here, in no particular order, are five apps that every agent needs. Some of these you may know and others are just emerging on the scene:
ScheduleOnce is the easiest way to schedule meetings and showings. How many hours do you waste every year emailing back-and-forth and playing phone tag to find available times for showings, conference calls or other meetings? With ScheduleOnce, just email a link to your calendar showing your available time slots and let clients schedule calls, showings and much more. ScheduleOnce lets you confirm the request and sends a confirmation to all participants by email, automatically adding the meeting to people’s Google or Outlook calendars. This has been a huge timesaver for me; I use it nearly every day.
Followup.cc makes sure you never forget to respond to a client email or followup on a lead. This lightweight yet powerful tool works with any email client (Gmail, Outlook, and others) to let you quickly schedule tasks and reminders right inside your inbox, scheduling emails to reappear when you need them. Simply forward emails to reappear in your inbox at certain time, such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, on your mobile or laptop. This productivity tool is easy to use and life-changing – because you’ll never forget to follow up on an email again and can clear your inbox of all those emails ‘you hope to get to soon’. If you are a gmail user, download the handy Chrome Extension.
3. DocuSign / Right Signature
An e-signature app like DocuSign or Right Signature is essential in today’s digital world. Do you really want to lose a deal on a hot property because you had wait a few hours to meet your clients in person to get signatures? With online document signing, you can send clients filled-out documents to sign via email, saving valuable time in competitive bid situations. All they have to do is follow a link, click-to-sign in boxes marked by little yellow flags, and hit submit when completed. These e-signature tools are quickly becoming de rigueur for most agents – yet some agents are still faxing documents back and forth. Implement e-signatures today if you haven’t already!
TextExpander is a handy tool for iPhone and Mac users to help save time typing. After typing the same things over and over, I hunted down this solution and have been using it ever since. With this tool, you create keyboard shortcuts to insert long texts, saving lots of keystrokes. Whether it’s an email signature, several paragraphs of a standard response to clients, or legal verbiage you put in every contract, simply type an abbreviation to insert these text snippets into an email or message. You might create ‘snippets’ with directions to an open house, showing instructions for other agents, info on how to reach your assistant etc. You can even include photos or images in your text selections. When typing emails on the go – and how many high-producing agents sit behind a desk all day? – this tool is a must.
Zapier is a connector for the apps you use the most, helping you automate tedious tasks. You can create Zaps to occur automatically between apps. Here are a few zaps I set up in minutes: “When I add a contact to my address book, ask them to connect with me on LinkedIn” and “When I get a prospect email from my website, add their information to MailChimp and instantly put them on my drip campaign”. This tool is a bit more advanced than the others, but once you learn the basics, then you’ll grow your network and save huge amounts of time. And what agent doesn’t wish she had more clients and more time?
The real estate business is about building and sustaining relationships. It can take months or years to nurture a client contact! How you communicate with clients during those months is the difference between losing a lead and closing a killer deal. I wish I had these incredible tools 15 years ago when I started in real estate. Give these tools a try to unleash your productivity and make your business grow.
Suzanne Kaljian Cohen has been a licensed real estate agent in California since 1997, and is currently the CEO at FollowUp.cc, a project of Argon Technologies.
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