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Inside Sales | 5 minute read

Why You Must Control Your Client Database

Michelle Benincasa Aug 28, 18

It's no secret that CRM software can help real estate agents power their pipelines, sell more homes and grow their businesses. But here's the deal: a real estate agent is no better than his book of business. As a real estate agent, your clients' names, phone numbers and email addresses are the three most important business drivers — and if you don't own the database where that information lives, then you don't own your business.

Most brokerages offer a CRM for individual agents and team members to use. For new agents, or for agents comfortable working with prospects provided by their team leads, this makes perfect sense, and I won't discourage you from sticking with your brokerage's CRM. But for agents who are building their own business and generating new leads, it's critical that the CRM you use is chosen by you, controlled by you and in your name.

Why You Must Control Your Client Database

Protect your client base

Most agents work under their brokerages' name and CRM system. But what happens if you decide to branch off from the brokerage, relocate or build your own business? Even if the brokerage exports all of your contacts and provides you with a CSV file, those contacts still live within their CRM and therefore are still owned by the brokerage.

When that brokerage is seeding new agents into the company, that list of contacts — your list of contacts — could be used as a prospecting call bucket for new agents. The database you worked so hard to create and maintain while working there could become list of "cold" or "abandoned" leads for new agents to target when they fill your space. For example, I knew one agent who had former clients call her old brokerage looking to buy from her. The scripting used by the new agents there made it sound like she was no longer in the real estate business at all — so those clients bought their home from someone else.

Listen: I'm not saying the brokerage is the bad guy, but these situations have happened before, and they would have been prevented had the agents maintained control of their databases. So what are you going to do to make sure you're not feeding someone else's database and creating competition for yourself?

Build your personal brand

When you use a brokerage CRM account and website, the branding tends to be very general; it uses the company's branding and doesn't include anything specific to you as a real estate agent. But you are the negotiating, marketing and selling expert — that's why people hire you to find or sell their homes. So shouldn't you have a site that showcases you and not your brokerage?

When you own your CRM and website, you can use your name, your team's name, your brand and your details. Of course, in most states it's required by law to at least include the brokerage name on the website, but personalizing your website in this way can positively impact your bottom line. According to a study by AutoTrader, 75 percent of people said they'd be willing to travel further to deal with a great salesperson. So if you're not using every resource available to you to demonstrate that you're that great salesperson, then you're missing a huge opportunity.

Control your workflow

On the flip side, what happens if your brokerage decides to change their CRM system? You may have worked with the current solution for years, built a huge client database within it and become comfortable with it.

But if you don't own that database, then you have no control over the decision to switch. You'll have to take the time to transfer your contacts to the new system and relearn the new system's controls and capabilities — time that could be spent on dollar-productive activities. This may not be a common scenario, but it could happen at any moment and cause a huge disruption in your workflow. By controlling your own CRM system, you can eliminate this risk entirely.

Own Your CRM, Own Your Business

You may be thinking: my brokerage offers a free CRM. It's easier and cheaper to just stick with that system, right? Wrong.

It's not free, and it's time you shift your mindset. A CRM is not an expense. Rather, it's an income-producing tool. Consider this: say you lose one deal from one of the scenarios we discussed earlier. On average, that one deal could mean a loss of about $7,000 to $9,000 — your CRM probably won't cost that much for the year, so protecting those deals with a personal CRM system can actually boost your ROI in the long run. Chances are, your current system has already cost you a few of those deals.

As real estate agents, we live and die by our client databases. Maybe you can't undo what you've already done, but at some point, you just have to stop the bleeding. By implementing your own CRM system and protecting your database, you can minimize the risk of lost sales, disrupted workflows and drained ROI. We suggest getting started now.

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