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Selling new construction can be fast paced one moment and a long, drawn out process the next. Buyers tell you reasons they need to move and then change their minds at the last minute. Keeping track of the conversations we have and our buyers’ desires and timelines can be overwhelming. Builders are always looking for a way to streamline the process, organize the information, and move buyers along in the process. A CRM is a great way to manage and nurture leads, and stay organized in the busy and slow times so no lead gets left behind.

Builders start looking at CRMs and realize there are a ton to choose from. Finding the best one for your team can become a daunting task. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of salespeople, marketers and builder executives over the years. Ideally, they would like to find one software that does everything well: CRM, selections, project management and purchasing. Everyone is looking for the unicorn of builder software and I am here to tell you, as a unicorn lover… it does not exist.

I know that may sound negative and harsh, but there is not one builder software that does it all well. Builder software needs a complementary CRM which means investing in more than one system. When shopping for your CRM, a system’s features and fluff can distract from what you are really after: more sales. This basic want and desire that all builders are looking for gets lost when looking for the perfect CRM. If your sales team does not engage with your CRM (no matter how fancy, expensive, or automated it is), you will not see more sales.

A Tale of Two Builders

At IBS (International Builders Show) I heard a story about a builder who decided to subscribe to a popular B2B (Business to Business) CRM because it integrated with their builder software (after building an API specific to this project to get it to work). The executive team made the decision because having their systems talk to each other was their prime objective. However, after months and months of custom development work (at a significant cost), and hiring a whole new IT and CRM implementation department to achieve their initiative, their CRM was still lacking needs of their online and onsite sales teams.

They may have gained efficiency in the back-end for executives, but the sales team is still struggling to use this expensive system that does not map onto how they sell homes. They were still not fully rolled out after one year. The sales and marketing teams talked to me about my company’s services and told me how much they loved what we had. We had also just built an actual integration with their builder software, so our software had everything they needed and wanted. They told me point blank that their executive team would not abort the current CRM because of how much money has already been spent and they would continue to struggle through to “try and make it work.”

In another case, a builder that recently became a Lasso client experienced a very similar issue. After trying for six months to get a well-known B2B CRM to work for their organization, they were unsuccessful. It was like trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Fortunately, the builder recognized that the CRM wasn’t working, discontinued using it, stopped throwing good money after bad, and decided to use Lasso instead.

Opportunity Cost

For builders like the two above who choose to use a CRM that’s not made for selling new homes and is designed for B2B selling, they have spent a lot of money and time, and have not reaped their ultimate desire: more sales.

The customization needed to map onto their sales workflow has been costly and has resulted in a longer time to see value.

Bottom line–if your CRM isn’t meeting the needs of your teams, you’ll never get the value. The constant struggle to ‘make it work’ and the cost of getting it ‘just right’ is high–both in dollars and opportunity.

Making the Right Choice

Both examples above point to the importance of choosing the right CRM that manages the complexity associated with selling homes–with minimal customization. After all, the CRM is really the hub for your sales and marketing team. If your sales team does not use your CRM, marketing is driving blind, and your executive reports and data are not accurate or up-to-date.

So how do you avoid these mistakes when looking for a CRM? We have created a checklist below to consider when choosing a CRM (and what you should be looking for out-of-the-box):

  • CRM maps to your workflow. Selling homes can be a complex process, so you need a CRM that makes it easy and keeps your sales and marketing teams organized. Implementing a generic CRM usually requires costly customization in order to meet the needs of everyone in your business.
  • Automatic lead capture with popular housing lead directories so you avoid manual entry. (Making sure data entry is easy for model walk-ins)
  • Automatically trigger sales processes based on where the lead came from. Set up tasks based on where the customer heard about your project or community.
  • Integrate with the communication software and your backend builder software. APIs and direct integrations streamline processes and help keep information in sync between front-end and back-end systems.
  • Sales and marketing have complete visibility into registrant communication and website activity by everyone in your company. Sales can see what emails marketing is sending and marketing can see what activities sales is doing. All email exchanges should be automatically recorded and all website activity should be available to both sales and marketing.
  • Consistency of lead/prospect qualification ratings. Ratings let you quickly prioritize registrant and give them the attention they need.
  • Built-in email editor for your marketing team so they can create professional, mobile-friendly emails quickly (without a web developer or designer).
  • For sales and marketing agencies, having an easy way to manage multiple builders is important. Information can never be shared across the different builders you manage.
  • Comprehensive reporting for better decisions. Marketing ROI reports show what marketing campaigns are working. As well, making sure detailed activity reports are available so it’s easier for a manager to coach their sales teams and review pipeline for better visibility into forecasting.

When you choose the right CRM you will see value sooner. You don’t want to be in the setting up stage forever or spend a lot of money trying to shoehorn your CRM so it fits. A CRM is only good if it is being used. If you forget about your sales team when picking out your CRM, you will have a system that is costing you money and not helping you make any money. Your CRM is the most important tool for your sales and marketing teams so you want pick the right one that will help your business grow and grow with your company.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

About the author…

Sara Williams is the Sr. Sales Director at Lasso CRM. Her 10-plus years of new home marketing and sales experience have included roles such as marketing director, marketing coordinator, new home sales manager, and senior new home consultant/online lead specialist. In January 2013, she won the NAHB National Sales and Marketing Council Gold award for Online Sales Counselor of the Year through her work at Heartland Homes.



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