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7 important questions to ask when evaluating a commercial real estate CRM

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jake-hills-23LET4Hxj_U-unsplashThe commercial real estate technology space is becoming more and more crowded. You may have already decided that you or your team needs some sort of CRE CRM, but you feel a little overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Or, you’ve narrowed it down to a list of three or four technologies you’d like to see a demo of but don’t know what to look for when comparing them to each other.

We’re here to arm you with a list of the most crucial questions to ask when evaluating a commercial real estate CRM. Any good sales rep will give you plenty of time to ask as many questions as you want on the demo, so make sure you get clear answers to each of these.


1. Is the CRM cloud-based?

Hopefully the answer to this question is “of course,” but you’d be surprised! Though it may seem like a simple requirement, having a CRM that is cloud-based and you can access from anywhere is of utmost importance. You don’t sit behind a desktop computer all day every day, never moving from the same spot. You’re meeting clients for networking lunches, showing properties on the opposite side of the city, etc. You need to be able to bring your CRM with you and access your most important information anywhere, anytime, and from any device.  


2. Will you have visibility into what your team is doing within this software?

If you’re part of a team signing up for multiple CRM licenses, be sure you ask the sales rep if the software supports collaboration. As a leader of a team, you should be able to track each member of your team’s activities so that you can hold them accountable to goals and metrics. As a member of a team, there are important details you’ll want to share with your colleagues. In Apto, for example, you can share deal activities and notes as well as delegate tasks to teammates. If you are purchasing a CRM for just yourself right now, that could change. Why risk the hassle of having to switch to a different solution because what you initially purchased doesn’t support collaboration between you and your colleagues?


3. Is it a relational database?

All of the records within a CRM should speak to each other. One of the most common value props of commercial real estate technologies is that they save you time, and in this business, time is money. Therefore, if you update one record in the system, you should not then have to go into a related record and re-enter the same information. For example, if you close a deal in Apto, property information (like ownership and last sale date) will automatically/simultaneously update. Even though deals and properties are different record types within Apto, those records speak to each other and you don’t have to waste time making multiple changes in the software. 


4. How do you get your data into (and out of) the system?

You’ve worked hard to build up your own personal database; all of the properties you’ve sold, deals you’ve worked, conversations you’ve had, relationships you’ve cultivated, etc. And whether your data lives in another CRM or an Excel file, you need a way to get it into a new CRM. Be sure to ask your sales rep for a detailed rundown of the data import process. If your data migration is simple and can be easily formatted to match the fields of the new software, can you import it yourself? If it’s a bit more complex and requires some manpower, is the data migration team in-house or off-shore? Your data is important, and you want to make sure it makes its way into the CRM in a secure, seamless, errorless fashion. 

The reverse is also true. You need to make sure that this CRM won’t hold your data hostage. It is yours. You must be able to export it out of the database, and you should not be charged a fee for doing that. If you are told on a demo that you can’t have your data back “because it’s too difficult to export” (or whatever the excuse), that’s a red flag.


5. Is onboarding/getting started free? Are there ample training resources available?

Whether you’ve used a CRM before or not, every new software has a learning curve. First and foremost, make sure there isn’t an implementation or “setup” fee. You’ve already paid enough to be able to use the software, so you don’t want to get slammed with hidden, additional costs. A good CRM will have someone walk you through logging in and some basics on how to start getting value out of your new tool right away, free of charge. Beyond that, is there an extensive help center with how-to videos and articles when you’re unsure of how to do something? Do they offer onsite training from an account manager or technical trainer?


6. Does the CRM offer unlimited customer support?

You’re busy, and it’s not your fault when something “breaks” in your CRM. And besides that, if a help center article/video isn’t giving you enough information on how to do something, you should have someone you can talk to, free of charge. Ask the sales rep if they offer unlimited customer support. Is there a system by which you can submit a help ticket and get assistance via phone or email? It’s so much more than just a call center; you want to make sure the customer support team has an organized way to help customers so no urgent needs slip through the cracks. Doesn’t hurt to ask if they are in-house, too.


7. When was the last meaningful product release/update?

Last but not least, you want to make sure that the product you are investing in will provide you value today and in the future. Ask your sales rep what the newest products/features are and when they were released. Here at Apto, we are always talking to brokers, whether customers or not. We use broker feedback to constantly innovate and improve upon our product. If the sales rep can’t answer that question, or the demo looks like the software was built in 2009, that’s probably not a good sign.


Here at Apto, we want to set brokers up for success. We can confidently give a positive answer to all of these questions when speaking about our software. Ready to see a demo of Apto and the value it can provide to you or your team? Click the button below!