Why Salesforce for Commercial Real Estate [Webinar Recording]
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Despite The COVID-19 pandemic that led to the worst economic collapse, the CRE sector is expected to return to its pre-pandemic norm by 2023. So, this time can be used to design new marketing plans to ensure sales success. In this post, we’ll explain why it’s worth considering Salesforce commercial real estate CRM for your brokerage and review the top CRM for CRE brokers built on Salesforce.
For quite a long time, the real estate vertical has been dominated by individuals who have been using the same tried and true techniques. Why should one care to change the procedure if the industry continues to flourish? The new millennium has brought many new technological innovations to the real estate industry. Many of these innovations have dynamically altered the way business is conducted and investments are made.
The recent situation revealed that business development and investment in technology is as essential as establishing reliable relationships with clients and all the technological advances are no longer something that is nice-to-haves but rather must-haves.
Most progressive commercial real estate tycoons started to reconsider the way they conduct business long before the crisis struck. And, as the result, they were more prepared for the new environment and less vulnerable to drastic market shifts. As it turned out, to find success in real estate, you need to be flexible and to be able to handle and understand complex situations and concepts fast and from multiple sides.
Nevertheless, there are still two camps in the commercial real estate world: the brokers that are easily adopting technology and those that are not. And if you are on the way to your digital makeover and already in search of the best solutions to innovate in CRE, we’ll cover such hot topics as:
Salesforce is the CRM leader by revenue that in 2020 reached its peak in $21 billion and is only expected to grow with each new acquisition. Its interrelated infrastructure includes the AppExchange app marketplace where third-party vendors offer their solutions starting from app components to full-fledged applications for platform enhancement.
Also, Salesforce provides a free learning hub called Trailhead where you can learn each aspect of the platform’s ecosystem and its features by completing learning modules called “Trails” and challenging tasks called “Trailmixes“.
Besides that, this company has a supportive Trailblazers community consisting of other fellow users where you can share your ideas and seek solutions for your issues.
If you are totally new to Salesforce and its infrastructure, you may find more details in our post:
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As a commercial real estate broker you’ve probably noticed that most of your day you can spend not on building the trusted relationships with your clients but on the data entry, updating, and managing it in Excel spreadsheet or other systems.
Another pain is that even if you have a CRM system on board, the key processes are not interrelated properly and you should look for the clients’ contacts then search for property information or lease expiration date that are not associated with each other.
As a result, scheduling a simple follow-up task can take about 12 clicks after which you have to jump between your Outlook and email or property/comps database.
A properly implemented commercial real estate CRM can save you 10 hours a week prospecting and creating meaningful business connections as well as help you increase your client pipeline through smart automation and data collecting.
Commercial real estate CRM helps seasoned realtors manage effectively leasing and transaction processes, acquisition/disposition, and investment operations and accelerate business growth by optimizing key processes and concentrating on what really matters to your business.
For non-professional real estate investors that decided to buy a property for investment, the system that can automatically calculate loan-to-cost or cash-on-cash cash flows and automatically sort them will become a real lifesaver as well.
Commercial real estate CRM gives you the 360-degree visibility of each customer on a micro and a macro level. On the micro-level, it can give tell you how much budget your lead has. On the macro level, it can give you the possibility to portrait your customer buyer persona due to a comprehensive overview and unified customer info.
Personalization is essential to successful marketing and adjusting your tactics according to real buyer personas helps you do exactly that.
Due to the common client database, you will be able to track your customers’ preferences or motivation and personalize every interaction, which will improve customer experience and help you in lead conversion or subsequent sales.
Commercial real estate CRM on top of Salesforce can automate your sales, marketing, customer service, and back-office activity. You should no longer manually enter all the new information into a database, calculate real estate brokers’ commission splits, or delegate different tasks to the members of your teams so as to it could be added, calculated, and assigned automatically.
Another perk is that potential clients can be immediately placed into the marketing funnels based on a variety of attributes like company size, their position in the company, interests, or previous interactions and sorted for future analysis.
A comprehensive view of your customers and interactions with them gives you the necessary level of transparency. On this level, you can build trusted and sustainable relationships with your clients by eliminating inaccurate, old, or duplicated data and reducing the risk of contacting the wrong person at the wrong time.
With Salesforce commercial real estate CRM you may leave behind dropped leases or lost prospects that were missed or forgotten. Moreover, this system’s transparency helps get more visibility into your team’s activities and adjust them to gain ultimate success.
With Salesforce commercial real estate CRM you can combine market insights with social signals on what properties are going to appear on the market and get relevant statistics. By analyzing factors such as age, location, how often the person uses your services, the number of touchpoints a person had before becoming a customer you’ll be able to see the patterns your customers follow.
Knowing these patterns enables you to offer the right service option at the right time and maximize the chance of a sale. Also, due to in-depth analysis, you can keep a complete track of the evolution of our sales and make exception reports with various graphical representations of data.
Besides that, you can do a competitor analysis and correlations and get more specific details for your business improvement.
High-security standards and clients’ data protection are the main Salesforce’s priorities. Due to various user permission levels, brokers can easily and safely manage and share documents within and outside the organization.
Salesforce assures brokers’ privacy by restricting the accessibility of sensitive information within the department and partners so that information is not visible to anyone and the privacy of brokers is maintained.
Also, commercial real estate CRM built on Salesforce allows restricting the system in terms of view access to different departments like sales and accounting. Salesforce administrators have the right to restrict the department access and allow access with a unique code to detailed information about each sales deal, rate, and commission to brokers.
Common contact database allows brokers to manage all the communication from a single place be it via emails, phones, or chats, and see important milestones and results of these interactions.
Salesforce allows safe sharing, storing, and signing of the documents in special chat rooms that may vary by user permission rules so no one from outside this chat room could see the conversations and exchanged documents.
Due to this feature, you can collaborate and close the deals remotely with various levels of privacy and access.
A unified listing base in a commercial real estate CRM enables brokers to easily access and manage all the necessary property data, and create property reports, brochures, or tour books for their clients within a few clicks.
Initially, Salesforce standard functionality hasn’t been adjusted for commercial real estate, and most features, like listing portals, haven’t been available out of the box, however, now brokers have at least three ways to leverage benefits offered by the platform’s infrastructure.
The first is to use standard Salesforce functions and to configure them to fit your organization’s needs. The second approach is to customize all the fields and flows to make them completely align with your corporate processes. But in this case, you will need to seek the professional assistance of Salesforce consultants and, possibly developers, to guide you through this procedure.
The third way is to opt for CRE-specific products built on Salesforce like AscendixRE, Apto, PropertyBase, or REthink. These tools are already preconfigured for brokers’ use and, as a result, they can become a more cost-effective option in comparison to buying Salesforce licenses with the standard set of features.
However, if you are planning to deploy additional marketing automation, AI technologies available in other Salesforce Clouds like Pardot or Einstein Analytics, you need to purchase the most expensive subscription plan offered by these CRE tools.
This Salesforce commercial real estate CRM feature allows you to see which of your potential clients are more likely to buy your products or use your services and based on the history of all transactions build patterns forecast sales probability. But, this feature is not provided in the standard Salesforce functionality and goes together with extra marketing automation products like Marketing Cloud or Pardot.
It goes without saying that this function makes CRM a single source of all document operations and helps ensure that all participants will have the same up-to-date version of files and can get them as soon as they need them.
With Salesforce for commercial real estate in place, your team can collaborate more effectively, especially if they are rarely in the office together. Brokers can be on the move, show around properties, meet clients for discussion and still be open for instant collaboration.
One more undoubtful priority of Salesforce commercial real estate CRM is the platform’s customizability. It’s extremely useful for the brokerages that want to have a totally personalized system without investing in building a totally custom CRM software.
Salesforce allows various types of customization like system configuration, code customization, enhancement via outside apps and components. Some of them, like renaming modules or creating custom views can be easily done even by not tech-savvy teams. More complicated optimizations may involve external assistance from Salesforce developers.
However, due to the abundance of various specialists and consultancies on the market, it won’t be a problem to find an expert for your exclusive needs.
Customized Salesforce search enhanced by apps like Ascendix Search allows brokers to find almost anyone or anything. You may not remember the person or company name but find them by their location on X street or in Y city. Or find contact’s first name or their company name by entering phone numbers in a matter of minutes.
Moreover, you can search for properties using customized map search and see them from various perspectives: from map and street view.
Salesforce can be easily synchronized with various systems and third-party tools like map search apps, collaboration portals, or report generation tools, data visualization software, property databases, social networks, and email services, and many more.
The high volume of add-ins and extensions, as well as flexibility of integration methods, makes Salesforce commercial real estate the most versatile platform on the CRE market.
Due to its popularity, Salesforce developed the largest community of users, administrators, developers – Trailblazers Community where all the professionals can get answers to their burning questions, exchange ideas, and best practices. Also, this network is a great source for finding a Salesforce professional for your project and see them “in action”.
Despite its obvious advantages for brokers, Salesforce as a commercial real estate CRM has its drawbacks as well. For example:
Even though Salesforce has a considerable amount of free educational materials, dedicated expert blogs, forums, and online communities, it is still not the easiest or most intuitive software to learn, however, that hardly can be expected from such advanced software.
But, let’s face it: brokers can’t afford to spend hours learning how to use a new solution. They need to spend their time forming relationships and closing deals.
Luckily, this problem can be easily solved by Salesforce consulting and user training sessions that can help you discover and master tricks of using this platform for exclusively broker’s needs.
Let’s admit it, the abundance of features and flows can overwhelm anyone at first, especially, if you are not an experienced, tech-savvy user.
However, due to Salesforce customizability, you can always configure the layout of basic tabs, rename basic modules, or engage with professional Salesforce consultants like Ascendix who can advise on the best ways to optimize user interface and workflows.
If you don’t have experienced internal resources, platform maintenance can be challenging. It implies that you need to keep an eye on all the system updates after each Salesforce release (that take place three times a year), fix system issues, troubleshoot user problems, and educate your teams on all the system changes.
And it’s highly unlikely that brokers will be happy to be involved in such activities instead of working on business development strategies and collaborating with clients.
But, fortunately, this task can be easily delegated to outsourced Salesforce administrators. Moreover, various engagement and employment models offered on the job market will definitely suit companies of any size, budget, and project complexity.
Salesforce product support is a frequently discussed issue on various review platforms. Especially, if you need the solution right away or talk to a live person to explain all the details. Even though Salesforce offers 24-hour Premier customer support for an additional cost, it still can be difficult to reach out.
On the contrary, Salesforce consultancies like Ascendix offer multi-channel Salesforce support and CRM concierge services that are available 24/7. Our Salesforce support team will address your question or issue as soon as it arises in all the stages of Salesforce implementation.
Besides, if you buy a Salesforce-based CRM like AscendixRE or PropertyBase, you’ll get support from their teams directly which in most cases means better service for you. E.g., AscendixRE offers a Concierge service for all AscendixRE Enterprise and Unlimited users. You’ll be able to delegate data importing, report creation, modification tasks to the Concierge team at no additional cost.
Salesforce is an extremely effective solution for sales, marketing, and customer service that can significantly improve organizational processes. However, without definite strategizing and planning behind this tool, it will become just a technology instrument that creates more hassle and disruption than benefits.
To use it to your advantage, your commercial real estate CRM should be implemented in complete alignment with your corporate goals and with correct and deduplicated data. To ensure implementation success, it’s better to seek professional help from Salesforce consultants who will share their best practices in system deployment exactly for your firm.
Even though Salesforce’s versatility generally can be considered as a big advantage, for small and start-up companies standard functionality can be excessive. To make it work to the brokerage’s benefit, the system requires extra calibration and optimization of unnecessary or complicated features.
Here’s where Salesforce customization and configuration can come in handy. Due to them, you can tailor all the system functionality to commercial real estate needs. Our Salesforce administrators and developers are always ready to assist you with adjusting the system to your requirements.
But if you look for already pre-configured commercial real estate CRM on top of Salesforce, which combines CRE industry peculiarities with infinite benefits of Salesforce infrastructure, below we’ll discuss the most popular solutions available on AppExchange.
There are four the most popular commercial real estate overlays for Salesforce presented on the AppExchange platform: AscendixRE, PropertyBase, REthink CRM, and Apto. And we’ll start our comparison with their starting pricing overview and run over them in detail a bit later.
All three solutions go with a 30-day trial provided by the Salesforce platform. However, AppExchange shows only starting subscription costs and other pricing options, except for AscendixRE are not openly stated on the companies’ websites.
AscendixRE is a commercial real estate CRM on top of Salesforce for managing your properties, leases, listings, deals, contacts, accounts, activities in one place and from anywhere.
This CRM is designed specifically for CRE brokers to automate deal flow, augment property, contact, and account search & reporting experience, simplify report generation, and distribution.
Also, unlike other fit-for-all-size commercial real estate CRM systems, AscendixRE comes with already in-built features for brokers like Ascendix Search, Composer, and MarketSpace so you don’t have to pay extra to tailor it for CRE needs, so you can start using them from day one!
Essential features of AscendixRE include:
AscendixRE pricing starts at $49 user/mo and is offered in three pricing options: xRE Foundations, xRE Enterprise, and xRE Unlimited.
With xRE Foundations plan, you’ll have
With xRE Enterprise plan you will get functionality available in Ascendix Search (advanced Salesforce search tool designed for commercial real estate brokers):
Also with this plan you get Ascendix Composer (real estate report & property tours generation tool) features like:
And additional bonuses of the commercial real estate CRM like:
Together with xRE Unlimited Plan, you can get the following additional features stated in the previous two plans:
What also makes AscendixRE CRM stand out is that it is managed by a company specializing in Salesforce consulting, administration, and AppExchange app development with 15-year experience in CRETech and PropTech. Due to this product/service balance, AscendixRE can be seamlessly adjusted both from commercial real estate and technical perspectives.
Moreover, to make sure you are totally familiar with all features of this real estate CRM, AscendixRE plans include 2 hours of consulting and interactive training (within 30 days of signing up) that is already available in xRE Foundations.
And with xRE Enterprise and xRE Unlimited plans, you can get 30-day access to the client adoption team to personalize training, business scenarios, best practices, data prep consulting, minimal configurations like field add/removal and form layout.
All three plans offer an opportunity to import accounts and contacts using original data template mapping.
What’s more, CRM support service for xRE Foundations includes Self-serviced Help Center and Email Support, whereas, xRE Enterprise and xRE Unlimited plans have multi-channel help services that besides options available in the basic plan, involve Phone Support and Concierge Service.
Propertybase is another commercial real estate CRM built on Salesforce. This solution helps consolidate contacts from distributed lead sources like Trulia, Zillow, and others in a single place, target the most active leads with lead scoring and targeted drip campaigns, synchronize the platform with Google and MS Office365 products, get instant property notifications.
REthink CRM is one more Salesforce-based commercial real estate CRM that includes mobile-friendly pipelines, map search, lead and contact management, generation of marketing brochures, listing agreements, and a comp database. It was recently acquired by Buildout so it is unclear what is the future of this CRM.
Apto isn’t available on the AppExchange marketplace, it is another commercial real estate CRM built on Salesforce. Its main product features include property data, contact and deal management, prospecting and marketing tools as well as reports and dashboards.
For an additional cost of $50 per month, you can get Apto Data and complex data migration at custom pricing.
Salesforce is a comprehensive tool with an exhausting list of benefits and despite its seeming complexity that can overwhelm at first, can become the best friend for your brokerage if you involve expert guidance.
Each commercial real estate firm can take advantage of the platform in its unique way due to its scalability and flexibility. And even if you don’t want to spend time tuning the standard functionality of Salesforce, you can leverage its advantages with pre-configured solutions specifically for CRE brokers.
And in case you are ready to welcome Salesforce CRM into your realty and simplify the process of its implementation, then our Salesforce consulting services will be the best fit for you.
Our consultants will make complicated processes easy for you.
We, at Ascendix, are ready to take any Salesforce-related challenges and successfully overcome them.
Our broad range of Salesforce services, 15 years of CRE Tech experience together with product development expertise, and the number of happy clients speak for themselves. And all you need is to contact us and share your project challenges and we will be glad to share our best practices in dealing with them.
Anzhelika specializes in B2B content marketing and has in-depth expertise in promoting the company's products and services through high-quality content. On the Ascendix Technologies blog, Anzhelika shares her insights of Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM tips & tricks as well as overviews of new CRM tools and technology trends on the market.
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