Lost paperwork. Slow response times. Poor communication. These are common issues for just about any commercial real estate company and a good CRM (customer relationship management) software can be a powerful tool to support your commercial real estate marketing and sales strategy.
But not all CRMs are created equal and especially in commercial real estate a good CRM is one that caters itself specifically to the needs of the industry.
To help you find the right one for your needs, we’ve gathered five of the top commercial real estate CRMs into one post in which we’ll review their key features, pricing, and other special considerations about which is best for your needs.
What Makes a Good CRM?
Customer relationship management software is designed to help you manage and oversee the interactions you have with prospects, clients, and tenants seamlessly. Rather than a messy datebook or poorly formatted spreadsheet, a good CRM is a resource that streamlines and improves the process of engaging with key people in your business.
Specifically, for commercial real estate companies, there are several benefits to having a good CRM in place, including:
- Pipeline Management – A good CRM will ensure you follow-up with deals when needed. No more forgotten calls, dropped leases, or lost prospects because someone in the office forgot to call them.
- Better Collaboration – With a good CRM in place, your team can collaborate more effectively, especially if they are rarely in the office together.
- Accountability – It’s easier to track and oversee how your team is managing prospects with a central system that everyone is accountable to.
- Back Office Management – Some of the more robust CRM options offer back office management as well, greatly reducing the time spent tracking multi-agent commission plans, sending or customizing invoices, and applying payments.
A good CRM will save you time, keep your data clean and organized, and ensure you follow up with prospects when needed. It is that enhanced accountability and communication that will have the biggest impact on your business.
What to Consider When Choosing a CRM?
What matters most when choosing a CRM for your business? It depends highly on your business and the specific needs you have in managing your relationships.
These might include:
- Property Database Integration – For CRE companies, properties are as important as deals or contact records and need to be as fully integrated as possible. The best CRMs in this space do just that, allowing you to create a custom local database and link it to deals and prospects.
- Marketing Tools – Integration with your existing email and calendar systems, and email marketing options (either via API or built-in tools) is vital to ensure you are following up with prospects at regular intervals and it is all tracked.
- Accessibility – Real estate brokers are on the run constantly. A good CRE CRM needs to be accessible anywhere, either through a web browser or as a mobile app.
- Technical Support – Because of how heavily customized these systems are, you should have support on hand who can help to get the most out of your system. This includes onboarding, technical support, and training documentation.
Drawbacks of CRM Implementation
Anytime you onboard new software there will be challenges and CRM is no different.
Whether you are currently using a locally installed CRM or are tracking everything in spreadsheets, there will be a learning curve for your team as you move so much of your business into a centralized system.
Importing all of that data can take days or even weeks to complete, and then you’ll need to train everyone on your staff to use the system and then follow-up frequently to ensure they are using it properly.
Compliance is key for a new CRM – without it, the system starts to fall apart quickly.
Fortunately, the five platforms we’re going to look at in this article are successful because of the support they offer new customers – in the form of onboarding, training, and ongoing support. Take full advantage of these resources to get the most from your new software.
Best Commercial Real Estate CRMs
To help in selecting a CRM that fits your needs, we’ve collected and reviewed the five best commercial real estate CRMs for 2020 below.
Salesforce is widely recognized as the number-one CRM option available today, and that customer-relationship expertise helps make it the most effective commercial real estate CRM on the market.
Salesforce commercial real estate CRM is a flexible, adaptable, intuitive, and completely cloud-based tool. Built on the award-winning Salesforce CRM platform, agents and firms can collect, analyze, and retrieve nearly limitless amounts of data in real time and at the touch of a button. Additionally, Salesforce CRM solutions are designed mobile-first, which means that users can enjoy full access to the entire catalogue of CRM capabilities, regardless of what kind of device they may be using.
Salesforce offers a number of features built around how commercial real estate brokers operate on a daily basis. These include:
- Contact Management– Ability to organize contacts, schedule tasks, and manage deals.
- Opportunity Management – Manage all your sales deals with Salesforce while staying connected to the people and information you need to close every sale, from anywhere.
- Lead Management – Show the impact of your marketing activities on your sales pipeline and invest your time on the hottest leads.
- Email Integration – Ability to automatically sync and track everything from contacts and events to tasks and more directly from your inbox.
- Sales Forecasting – Get a real-time view of your entire team’s forecast, including in-line forecast adjustments, and override visibility up and down the management hierarchy.
- Files Sync and Share – Share and collaborate on files, publish the best and most relevant content, and track it all in real time. Quickly find what you’re looking for from anywhere, on any device.
Salesforce offers a few pricing plans from $25-$300/user/monthly depending on the features used.
Apto offers a web-based solution for managing customer relationships, properties, listings, deals, and back-office.
It is this approach that has helped them grow so quickly in recent years with a “built by broker, for broker” approach.
One of the things that makes Apto unique is that it is built on the Salesforce.com platform. A Salesforce embedded license is included in your membership, but you’re getting a system fully customized and optimized for commercial real estate brokers. As a result, it is possible to manage the full lifecycle of a deal from start to finish in the same interface.
Apto offers a number of features built around how commercial real estate brokers operate on a daily basis. These include:
- Appointment Setting – Browsing ability to set appointments for clients against property and personnel availability.
- Automated Tasks – Automation of lease-expirations, follow-up tasks, and more.
- Renewal Management – The built-in stacking plan makes it easy to stay up to date on renewals and list a space at the right time.
- Project Management – Built into the system is a CRM-integrated project management tool to keep track of milestones, tasks and events.
- Collaboration – Deal creation is optimized for tracking relationships with multiple brokers involved in a deal.
- Forecasting – Apto offers both commission estimates and probability estimates for your projection needs.
- Back Office – The back office functionality includes a Book Deal Engine to capture transactions details, invoice creation and tracking, record monitoring for accounts payable and receivable, and agent split calculation.
Apto offers a relatively straightforward pricing structure.
For a flat $89/month per user (billed annually), users gain access to all of the functionality in the CRM and Deal Management modules of Apto.
Back Office access is an additional $29/month per user (billed annually). This includes API access and Salesforce.com embedded license with either membership.
Another highly customized all-in-one commercial real estate optimized CRM, ClientLook manages all three major components of a brokerage in one space – contacts, properties, and deals with heavy integration of the three.
Additionally, ClientLook offers extensive API integration with Google, MailChimp, RPR Commercial for REALTORS®, and TheAnalyst® PRO.
While flexibility is important, ClientLook also provides a bit of additional support for your legacy systems and communications tools.
With three major components, ClientLook is designed to combine all of the facets of your business in one toolset. Features include:
- Contact Management – The contact management system allows you to quickly log notes and emails, create and manage tasks, and sync everything to your mobile devices. This includes Outlook and Google Sync, Private Data management, teaming support for brokers working together on deals, and advanced importing and exporting features.
- Pipeline Management – You can create deals and organize activities, files, emails and other resources accordingly. This also allows you to work with clients actively and record information in real time.
- Property Management – ClientLook includes a personalized property inventory database, allowing you to relate any given property to specific contacts and companies in the database for easier management.
ClientLook offers a similar pricing model to Apto with seats billed annually per user.
When paid annual, the price is $58/month/user.
They also offer a month-to-month plan for $69/month/user.
This includes their extensive support options as well with Virtual Assistance services, in-app chat, and a video library for training your team.
Ascendix is a commercial real estate CRM option built on the framework of both Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. This provides a much more flexible solution for brokers already using one of the two leading CRMs on the market, and allows quicker integration with your current systems, with the commercial real estate customization you need.
There are three different plans for Ascendix’s XRE CRM tool, with the top tier offering advanced supped of Microsoft Dynamics features. The core features include:
- Core Contact Management – Management of your contacts, activity tracking, property listing and lease tracking, deal and history tracking, all of them linked to one another to fit your tracking needs.
- Dashboard Management – Create and display dashboards for key information to members of your team in real time.
- Social CRM – Track prospects via social media, track recent activity in social channels, and engage with users with social selling tactics. If you use LinkedIn or Facebook as part of your marketing strategy, this is an extremely powerful tool.
- Email Integration – Easy integration for both Google and Outlook.
- xRE Composer – The xRE Composer allows you to integrate a module for creation of custom collateral, brochures, and other documents your brokerage will be using.
- Stacking Plans and Lease Tracking – Available as part of the Enterprise package, these advanced tools are powerful additions to any commercial real estate broker’s tool set.
- DataAmp is a free add-on for Salesforce that allows users to find and sync company and contact information from within CRM. There is no monthly subscription and you only pay per record. The data comes from InsideView which is a leader in data aggregation and accuracy. You can see how this streamlines prospecting and speeds up the data entry process here. They took it a step further and after you create a company record, you can then select multiple contacts and then quickly create those records with one click. You can see a quick overview here.
Because of the variable nature of the AscendixRE plans, the best solution will depend on the size of your company and the way in which you want to interact with your data.
The Salesforce integrated solution, for example, offers no seat minimums and a lower entry price point per user. For the largest companies, the Microsoft Dynamics system works only with 5 or more users, but provides more advanced features such as On-Premise options, InsideView for Sales, and custom entities/objects with entire data tables.
AscendixRE offers three pricing options, with several add-ons available.
The base price for xRE Foundations is $49/user/month. For xRE Enterprise, the cost is $79/user/month.
The xRE for Microsoft Dynamics CRM option is a bit more at $95/user/month with a 5 user minimum to get started.
Other upgrade options include email marketing integration and the xRE Composer Integration.
REThink CRE offers another Salesforce.com powered CRM option for commercial real estate companies, with full CRE database and prospect management support, deal pipeline features and reporting and analytics customized for the commercial real estate companies they work with.
Key features of REThink CRE include the following with a handful of additional features available at the Enterprise level for larger companies.
- Contact Management – The core CRM offers the power of Salesforce with customization for commercial real estate companies.
- CRE Database – Property management within the CRM, with the ability to integrate and tie each property to contacts, prospects, or deals in the system.
- Pipeline Management – Deal creation and management tools that tie to prospects, contacts, leases already in the system, and properties.
- Reporting and Analytics Tools – Reporting tools have been customized for CRE use, allowing you to drill into the information you care most about more easily.
- Customized Onboarding – REThink offers a robust onboarding process that takes 6-8 weeks. This allows the system to be catered to your business and populated with relevant information, with the appropriate training to support your efforts.
REThink offers a $79/user/month plan (when billed annually) for the Team and Office options for a minimum of four users.
Additionally, there is a single one-time flat fee charged for REThink Onboarding. Onboarding is assessed on a per-customer basis depending on your needs in the CRM and is mandatory for all users.
There is also a multi-office and enterprise plan designed for larger firms – pricing for these plans is provided on a request-only basis.
There are many different options when it comes to contact, property, and deal management for your commercial real estate company. The ability to more efficiently manage the different types of commercial real estate leases, contacts, automate important components of the follow-up process and cycle and score leads to maximize opportunity are all incredibly important.
Depending on the size of your company, the number of deals you manage on a routine basis, properties you need to enter, and the people who will be accessing the system, each of these platforms has something unique to offer.
Whether you need a basic, entry level solution like Real Hound, or would like something built on a more robust platform like Salesforce via Apto, REThink, Ascendix, there are several options here designed to fit the specific needs of your business.