If you were to Google the term “CRM” (customer relationship management) right now you would get millions of results selling products promising the world in helping deal with those interested in buying on a particular development. You might have trialled one or two briefly but right at this very point in time if I were to ask you to show me a list of your leads, money has it, you would bring it up in everybodies favourite spreadsheet application, Excel.
I’ve helped build several CRM-type applications in the past and they invariably end up as slow, complex beasts that have every bell and whistle and very few actually end up using it. As a developer I used to blame the customers and think that “they just don’t understand the power” but the reality is after a time of using one aggressively for my own needs I realised that there were only a few things that really mattered.
Is it fast?
It needs to be fast. As in I don’t want to have to wait to be able to sort a column, and searching should take seconds. Editing should be as close to editing in something like a spreadsheet as possible.
Is it simple?
This doesn’t mean it has to be dumb but if I have to go through three pages to change something I’m simply not going to use it. It ties in closely with speed, the simpler it is to achieve the faster you will do it.
Is it for the right vertical market?
A CRM that caters for all markets tends to do all rather averagely. Take the industry we are in, handling the sale of new developments, a CRM solution built for an even closely related industry such as the sale of single residential won’t be able to handle a prospect with the same professionalism as one designed for gated communities.
When I researched whether or not to even introduce the lead handling functionality into PropertyEngine I looked into various solutions out there and every one I tried (and I tried some industry leaders) just didn’t quite cut it for what we want to do.The missing piece comes down to linking the lead to what they are interested in. It’s the connection between unit, plan, finish and even development (for multi-development companies) that gives the power to the CRM we wanted and couldn’t find. So that’s what we built.
In the next entry you will see the power of categorising your leads and hopefully I’ll be able to convince you to move away from the spreadsheet and onto the cloud.