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Q&A: The do’s and don’ts of technology adoption, according to our senior project manager

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broker-data-relationships-320x216.jpgMaggie Ham is a senior project manager at Apto. She has helped brokerages of all different sizes find success with our technology. We sat down with her to learn what makes an Apto customer successful, and what practices can ultimately sabotage a technology roll-out.

Maggie focuses on CRM, and it’s important to note that this needs to be set up right to take advantage of our prospecting and mapping tools. It’s your data, and it needs to be organized so you’ll take action on it! Here’s how to get set up for success.

What’s the number one indicator a customer will be successful in using Apto?

The biggest indicator of success is an open mind.

Brokers need to go into the onboarding process accepting that they will need to adapt their processes to the new CRM, not the other way around. You won’t manage your CRM the way you managed your spreadsheet—or whatever you were using before. You will need to adapt.

But that’s the entire reason you purchased a CRM: to optimize your processes! Brokers who are willing to engage in a bit of trial and error to see what works best for them will ultimately find success.

The other big factor is that the individual brokers who will use the technology need to actually want it. Often, we see firm leadership purchase a CRM for reporting purposes only to be disappointed when it’s not immediately embraced by their staff. New technologies need to be championed by both leadership and the users to be fully adopted.

What are some ways firms can incentivize team members to adopt a CRM?

Because so many technology purchases are initiated by leadership, it’s incredibly important to empower the everyday users of the CRM early on. Launch parties are a great way to rally support for the technology. On larger teams, this might mean blocking off time in the calendar and holding drawings and giving out prizes for participation. With small teams, we’ve found that friendly competition can accelerate adoption—for example, the first person to log 50 calls or create 10 call lists in Apto wins a restaurant gift card.

Who are you usually working with during implementation?

This varies based on the client and their specific needs, but the beauty of our cloud-based service is that as soon as you log in, it’s ready to go. So rather than go through an exhaustive implementation process, we focus on designating duties and key roles.

We like to encourage the brokers themselves to be the point of contact because they will ultimately be the ones using the tool everyday. We want them to understand it and be able to ask questions.

We also need to appoint a system administrator. This person is in charge of passwords and account access. Then, we need someone to take charge of the data. We want this person to be the one in the company who knows the most about the data.

On a lot of teams, all three of these roles go to one person; it’s just important that someone takes ownership of all the responsibilities.  

What are some common mistakes customers make during setup?

The biggest mistakes we see are around data. To get the most out of Apto, you need clean, actionable information. As we like to say, “bad data in, bad data out.”

Sometimes, we see customers uploading spreadsheets full of addresses and contacts that haven’t been looked at or updated in 10 years. Or we’ll see massive lists of 50,000 contacts going in that are bound to be mostly useless.

If you don’t have good clean data to input, don’t worry! You can always start from scratch. And if you’re not sure if your data will be helpful in Apto, then I suggest simply inputting one row from your spreadsheet to see how it will look in our system. Start by adding in contacts and properties. By experimenting with these two items, brokers can get a feel for how logging a call associated with a contact will work, or creating a listing related to a property, for example.

And of course, if you get stuck or need help interpreting your data, we have a team of data specialists who can get you straightened out.

What are some actions a customer can take before implementing a CRM to ensure success?

We always recommend brokers start by reviewing their own workflow and clearly defining what success means to them.

This means acknowledging where you’re at and identifying how Apto can improve your performance. First, figure out what is and isn’t working – for example, your spreadsheets capture all the data you need, but they have grown too large and convoluted. Then, ask yourself what you do on a daily basis that you saw Apto do better.

If customers take the time to really understand what they want to get out of Apto, we can tailor our data migration and training to their goals. Ultimately, they will get a lot more out of our service much sooner without ever feeling overwhelmed.

What does success mean for an Apto customer?

Success means finding 1-3 key workflows that they didn’t have in place before that provide high ROI through saved time and more deals closed. Those workflows vary by team and by individual broker. It might be logging 10x more calls, which leads to more closed deals. Or maybe it’s using our mobile app to update properties on the fly when you’re walking the market. There are a lot of quick wins to be had.

What are the first steps you recommend customers take during onboarding?

In the first few weeks with Apto, the best thing brokers can do is just log on! Seriously, you’d be surprised how many onboarding calls we do with people who have still only seen our product in the demo. Once you’ve gotten logged in, play around with it. Try entering some data and start to envision how you might start to use Apto on a daily basis to be more efficient. Then, walk through our Getting Started page, and reach out to our support team if you get stuck. I find that the most successful and happy customers aren’t afraid to ask for help. They can help customers discover how to use Apto in a way that fits their unique needs.