Since 2017, CRM application software has been the largest market with more than $40.7 billion in sales in 2017 (full content available to Gartner clients).
This means that, more than ever before, the market has hundreds of different software options, and more industry specific software is being developed.
Real estate is no exception.
Our advisors talk to hundreds of real estate professionals looking to either upgrade or purchase their first CRM, and they hear this question a lot: “Should we buy a real estate industry specific CRM?”
As you can imagine, the answer’s a little more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no,” but fear not—we’re here for you.
To help you make the most informed decision, let’s go point by point and talk about the pros and cons of using industry-specific CRM. This way, you won’t end up overpaying for software with features or services you don’t need.
Expertise and support
Pro: Real estate industry-specific CRMs are made from the ground up with agents in mind.
Whatever vendor you choose is likely to have former agents on their staff who know what you and your team need to succeed.
By dealing specifically with the real estate industry, the support staff for an industry-specific software company will be much more familiar with the types of problems you’re facing. They’ll be able to help you because they’re prepared for the problems you’re facing.
This help goes beyond questions you might have—the entire onboarding process will be smoother. Their staff will know what to focus on when it comes to training your team and can help you every step of the way.
Additionally, their user research will be hyper-focused on your industry which means their built-in workflow is likely to be ready to be used right out of the box. This will save you time, money, and hassle.
Con: Industry specific CRM companies are more likely to experience instability.
As you know, the real estate industry is constantly evolving. Even if someone at the software company worked in the real estate industry in the past, that’s no guarantee that they know what it’s like currently.
Another thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much user research is done, the software is still the vendor’s idea about what your business is most likely to need.
One of the intangible benefits of going with a more popular, mainstream solution is stability. Market leaders aren’t going anywhere and have much larger support teams that will be there for you when you need them. A more niche software company may not exist in three to five years.
Mainstream CRM will also come with more services designed to help you throughout your time using their software. The tradeoff is they might not be as intimately familiar with your specific market.
Pro: Industry specific CRM is more likely to include core features your business needs.
As a real estate agent, you’re more likely to need marketing automation and mobile functionality because let’s face it, you’re probably not in the office that much. Your pipeline management might also look different than other industries.
Some of these less common features aren’t a priority for mainstream vendors or require that you integrate other software with your CRM. By going with an industry-specific CRM, you’re getting software built from the ground up with these important features in mind.
It’s more likely to work for you right out of the box.
Real estate specific CRMs also have easier integration with listing services like Trulia and Zillow which helps make your marketing efforts more seamless.
Con: Your business might not require the extra features.
Industry-specific CRMs come with tons of unique and interesting features that are useful for your business, but unless you actually use them, you’re spending more money than necessary.
Many mainstream CRMs integrate with marketing software that might have more robust features that you need in order to succeed.
You may already be using marketing software that you love, so finding a cheaper mainstream CRM that can integrate with it might be a better option.
Mainstream CRMs also have the benefit of being customized to perfectly fit your business’ needs.
Pro: Real estate industry specific CRMs require less customization.
Our data shows that the majority of the people who call our advisors are either single agents or a team of 2-5.
You’re busy making sure clients are happy and kept up to date, networking, or making sure a property is ready to sell, so you definitely don’t have time to customize a mainstream CRM to fit your workflow.
The amount of time it takes to get your software up and running is almost as valuable as how much the software costs.
In fact, Gartner found that most enterprise businesses took between 10 days to five years with an average time of 17 months to completely get their CRM up and running (full content available to Gartner clients).
By choosing an industry-specific CRM, you’re more likely to be closer to 10 days than 17 months because it will come built with workflows that are designed for real estate agents in mind.
Con: Industry specific CRM can be inflexible.
Popular mainstream CRMs are designed to be general and allow businesses to fully customize them to fit your specific business needs perfectly.
If you have the time, designing your workflows, dashboards, fields, and pipeline will always be a better solution because everything will be exactly tailored to your specific processes. And, by customizing from the ground up, you’ll have a much better understanding of your software and its capabilities.
Let’s say the real estate specific CRM has all these fields and workflow already made with your industry in mind, but you do things differently. The inability to customize or change these fields to fit your business will result in frustration and will hurt you in the long run.
Take time to make the right decision for your business
Will you have the time to research integrations, learn different marketing automation software, and customize your mainstream CRM? Or do you just want something that, while more costly and might come with features you won’t necessarily use or need, will work right out of the box for you?
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if an industry-specific CRM is right for your real estate business. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can find the ideal software solution to help take your business to the next level.
If you need help finding different software solutions for your business, a great place to start is by giving our advisors a call at (855) 998-8505. We’ll be able to help get you in touch with the perfect vendor for your business.