Real Estate CRM Inside Gmail - An Almost Perfect Solution
Streak Your Way to Gmail CRM
I'm saying "almost perfect" because nothing goes all the way to perfection. However, as a Gmail lover and a real estate professional, I haven't found anything that can equal Streak for CRM inside Gmail. All of my requirements for a real estate CRM system are included in the installed app and inside Gmail.
Let's think about what we want to manage in our Customer Relationship Management solution in its simplest form. Simple is fine, but I want a certain minimum functionality:
- Manage buyer leads from inception through to loss or a purchase agreement.
- Manage seller leads from inception through to a listing agreement.
- Manage a listing from listing agreement through to a contract of sale.
- Manage a transaction, buyer or seller side, from contract through closing.
Those are the basic components that must be in my system. If you think about them, they each have a certain flow to them, and that's where Streak shines. I'll take you through each of those processes with the Streak screen inside of Gmail. First, let's get two basic components of Streak explained.
- Pipelines: This is the flow of a process. Each of the four items above have a logical flow from beginning to end or the next stage. In Streak, that's a pipeline. Charted, pipelines are like columns in a spreadsheet, each column the next phase of the process.
- Boxes: This one isn't as obvious, but really is simple if you think about it logically. A box is the Row in a spreadsheet, and can be just about anything you're working through the process. Managing buyer leads through to conclusion, the Box would be the Buyer(s)' information. The Box becomes a record in the CRM database, which I'll show you in another step.
Let's move to the next step where we'll look at our first pipeline, Buyer Working, the lead process.
The Buyer Lead Working Pipeline in Streak for Gmail
This is your first look at a pipeline view, colorful, but also very clearly a path with arrows from beginning to end. We're working a buyer lead that just came into our system, maybe from a referral or a website lead. There are templates for choosing a pipeline type, and one is for a real estate deal. I simply modify that one for every one of these examples, so this is my process. I try to keep it simple but logical for tracking the process.
- Lead - I've just entered them into the system.
- Contacted - I've made a first attempt at a conversation, perhaps email or phone call.
- Corresponding - We're talking or emailing, but no face-to-face or showings yet.
- Appointment or Showings - We're out checking out properties.
- Follow-up - Back in the office, following up on their thoughts about homes they saw.
- Contract in Negotiations - We've written up a deal and negotiating with Seller(s).
- Contract Dead or Accepted - Deal died or was accepted. If died, we can move this prospect back to the appropriate step and keep working with them.
Now we see our first BOX, which is simply the Buyer(s) contact record. You can type them right into a row under the Lead bar in the body. I typed in the name "Rob K." to get started. However, going over to the left side of the row, you can click on the box icon to go to the detail record. Here are the instructions for creating a new box in the Pipeline view. We will look at the record detail next.
For now, notice that there is a sub-column for the stage they are in, and all you have to do is to click on it to select another stage to move your box (buyer) to the next stage, in this case Contacted. As you move them, in the bottom part they move down through the stages, and in the top part they move left to right.
Seller Lead Working Pipeline
Here you see the pipeline I set up for a listing/seller lead. It begins when they enter the system and ends when they list with me or someone else. The Process steps are:
- Lead - Just entered into system, no action taken yet.
- Contacted - Either email or phone contact made.
- Follow-up - Time while I'm working to get a listing appointment.
- First Appointment - An appointment is set, and/or in progress.
- Waiting - Appointment over, awaiting a decision from them.
- Listed with Other - Lost them to another agent or brokerage. Will remove them from this pipeline, but their information will remain in the databases.
- To Listing - They list with me and I'll add them to my Listing Management Pipeline.
You're getting the flow now. When you have multiple boxes (prospects) in one of these pipelines, they'll group below in the appropriate stage, and you'll see the number of boxes in a stage at the top. You have sort options for how their listings display in the bottom of the screen.
Listing Management Pipeline in Streak for Gmail
Once a seller opts to list with me, their box (database entry) is moved to the Listing Management pipeline. You're beginning to see the efficiency here, as you can go into your Gmail each day and run through four pipeline views and see everything you have working and in what stage of the process.
- Listing Signed - They've signed the listing and I'm getting to work on it.
- Data Gathering - This is while I'm gathering their documents, measuring the home, recording property information for the MLS, etc.
- Listing in MLS - It is now live on the MLS, Multiple Listing Service
- Marketing Set - I've set up ads, a single listing web page, other marketing. They won't move until I've set up all ads for starting run.
- Being Shown - Property being shown, awaiting a contract.
- Contract in Negotiation - Contract received and being negotiated with buyer(s).
- Contract Dead - Contract didn't get accepted on both sides, moving listing box back to the Being Shown stage. If expired and lost, box but not database record will be removed from the pipeline.
- To Transaction - Moving them to Transaction Pipeline because contract executed by both sides.
I keep these stages broad, not getting too detailed, as I don't want a long line of arrows at the top. The goal is to just keep everything organized with a quick view that tells me the status and progress of all leads, listings and next; transactions. You can add custom fields to your records and have them show in the sub-row just under the arrows in the pipeline.
Next we'll see the pipeline that leads to money!
Transaction Management Pipeline for Streak in Gmail
This is the money pipeline, taking a contract from acceptance through closing. I use the same one for both buyer and seller sides, as the stages are broad and apply to every transaction. This way only a single pipeline shows me the stage of every transaction I am working.
- Offer/Nego/Contract - The contract is being negotiated, once accepted by both sides, it will move along.
- Title/Survey/Inspect - Generally, the first things we jump on are setting up escrow, applying for title binder, setting up inspections, etc.
- Repair Nego. - This is after inspections are delivered and receives the transaction box if there are demands for repairs or money by the buyer(s).
- Appraisal/Loan - Assuming the repairs were resolved, generally now it's all about getting the appraisal and the loan approved.
- Pre-Closing - Lots of details before getting to the closing table.
- Closure - It's closing today or tomorrow, and you'll leave it here until you get your commission check.
This one is pretty self-explanatory now that you understand how the Pipelines and Boxes work. I simply create a new Box for the transaction, named something like "Smith Sale to Jones." I can then dump every bit of information that comes through my Gmail into the box to keep everything together for quick reference.
I don't figure commissions before I see the check ... well most of the time. However, you can do calculations in columns, a powerful feature.
First, notice the Streak icon and link at the top of Gmail. Clicking this drops down a full featured help system that tells you everything you need to know, and you never leave your Gmail screen. I wanted to see how to create a formula column, so clicked on the link and found a section in the help for this. You can see in the image that there is a complete tutorial for creating formulas.
The NewsFeed and So Much More
When you're working in your pipelines, you can click on the NewsFeed button at the top right in Gmail and you'll be presented with a feed of actions you've taken in relation to that Pipeline and Boxes. You can easily keep up with what you've been doing with this NewsFeed.
I've given you a very broad overview of Streak for Gmail CRM, and you'll need to check out the many features. There is a more recognizable record display for each of your contacts, leads, prospects and transactions. By clicking on the box icon in the pipeline you can go to that record screen, make changes and additions and click on related information.
Let's look at one more screen, how you interact with Streak from an email in Gmail.
Adding a Box from Email in Gmail
One of the best and most frequently ways used to create a Box in a Pipeline is to do it from an email. This is especially useful when you receive a new lead in an email. See in the image that there is now a button at the top of individual Gmails that lets you create a new box, add to an existing box, or edit a box.
Let's say that you get a new buyer lead via email. You simply click to create a box, and you add it to your Buyer Working pipeline with the name of the prospect as the Box name. Now, every email you receive from anyone related to working this buyer, you can simply use this process to add them to the buyer box in the pipeline. Now it's more like a real file box, as it has multiple related items in it.
This is a great tool in the Transaction Pipeline as well. Once you're getting emails from the other agent, title company and others, you simply add them to the Transaction Box.
There's lots more, but this will wrap the article. Have fun, and check it out, as Streak has a forever free option.
Email Tracking as a CRM & Legal Tool
A bonus from Streak is the email tracking feature. The image shows a history of opens of the currently displayed email. You also get notices of email opens as a pop-out if you want them. I like to know that my emails have been received and opened, especially in transactions.
After all, CRM is about managing a relationship, and part of that is knowing that you're getting through to your email contacts. It can also come in handy in the future if you're tasked by a court to show that information or documents were delivered in a timely manner. It isn't just about you doing something wrong. I've had past clients ask me to give them documentation about emails for actions in which they're involved that had nothing to do with me.
A real life example involves a builder out of state client who bought a land parcel in the mountains with the intent of building a retirement home. The area had been involved in the past in disputes with the county as to whether it was legally subdivided or not. Each change in county attorney seemed to generate a new round of controversy.
In my due diligence for the client, I found that there was a two year old letter from the county attorney stating that the property would be considered legal and granted a building permit if applied for. I requested a new letter, even though it was the same county attorney. After squawking a bit, a new letter was issued. I emailed a copy to my client stating that the document we were waiting for had been delivered, so we could move forward with the purchase.
Two years later, and with a different county attorney, he applied for a building permit and was denied. He contacted my real estate attorney for help. The attorney contacted me to ask if there was any documentation proving we relied upon the letter in making the purchase. I pulled up the email with tracking and the county issued the permit. Tracking emails is just good business practice.