4 Steps to Choose the Right CRM for Your Real Estate Business

If your real estate business is at the point where you need a CRM (or maybe you have one that isn’t working and are ready for a change) to better manage your ever-growing list of leads, clients, and professional contacts, you might be feeling overwhelmed by your options.

You have a lot to consider before investing hard-earned money into a new system.

If you’re an independent agent, you’re probably asking yourself

  • What questions I should be asking to make sure I pick the right platform?
  • How much will a system cost me before I start to see a return?
  • How easy is the system to use?
  • How much time will it save me?


If you’re leading a team of agents, your likely also wondering

  • Is this the right investment for my team?
  • Will my agents use the system?
  • How does this change our day to day operations?
  • Will this impact team culture?


Disclaimer: You’re reading this post on sGrow CRM’s website, and as our name implies, we’re a CRM company for residential real estate agents. We’re proud of our intuitive system design and have seen how our built-in, done-for-you automated email funnels have produced amazing results for our users.
That being said, we realize that our system is not for every real estate agent or team out there, and we’re okay with that fact. The point of this post is to help you determine the best solution for your real estate business, even if it’s not us.


Now that we’ve said our piece, let’s get to it!

Step 1: Identify Your Goals

The first step in choosing the right CRM for your business is to determine your primary goals for the system. Create a list of your objectives to compare to each system you review later in the process.

For example, ask yourself

  • How much does my current system (or lack of system) cost me?
    • How often do I miss out on a new business opportunity because my system isn’t great at helping me manage follow-up?
    • How much money am I wasting on a CRM that promises amazing results if I can just figure out how to set it up correctly?
  • Does the system connect to my IDX and other lead sources?
  • What are my “must-have” features?
    • A pipeline to manage leads and deals?
    • Reporting to identify top priorities and track business production?
    • Automated drip email follow-up?
    • Tasks and reminders?


Step 2: Determine Your Budget

Next, review your budget to determine how much you can afford to spend on a monthly or annual basis. Depending on your current CRM goals, you may not need to spend thousands each year on a system. At the same time, be cautious if a price sounds too good to be true – because it probably is.

If you’re looking for a CRM that includes lead generation, you’ll most likely need to spend $300 – $500 per month since a large portion of your cost will go toward lead acquisition.

If you want to upgrade from using a spreadsheet and aren’t interested in automating repetitive communications, expect to spend between $30 – $100 per month.

If you want a CRM to automate follow-up to your leads and clients moving through the sales funnel, drip messages to past clients and key network connections, and create reports to track critical business metrics, pricing typically starts at $100 per month and increases based on add-on features and volume of messages sends per month.

If these numbers seem too steep for your budget, evaluate your current business expenses to determine where you may be able to free up funds. We recommend eliminating low-converting lead sources and monthly subscription fees for services you don’t use often. Seems like common sense advice, but you’d be surprised how many smaller fees come out of your account each month without you noticing.

Step 3: Ask The Right Questions Before Opening Your Wallet

Whether you’re the type of person who likes to talk to someone from the company to get more information during the decision-making process, or you prefer to use online resources to weigh your options, here are questions you need answers to before signing up.

How does this system solve the unique challenges Realtors face?

Listen or look for which tools align with the list you created in Step 1 to determine if the system is potentially worth your investment.

Don’t get distracted by flashy bells and whistles that won’t truly bring value to you or your customers. If it wasn’t on your list before, do you really need it?

Here’s a really important thing to keep in mind: 

Many popular CRMs are built to support most or all professional industries and are highly customizable. Just because a system CAN be customized for a particular need in your business doesn’t mean the setup will be easy, quick, or inexpensive. Effective custom configuration requires a lot of planning, testing, and sometimes more money to access features to finalize implementation. 

That’s why you should follow up any “our system CAN do that” answer with:

How much time does it take a system expert to configure the features I need?

Don’t ask the sales rep to estimate how much time it would take you to set up the system. This answer will always depend on your technical knowledge. Asking how long it would take someone who knows the ins and outs of the system will tell you how complex implementation will be.

If you plan to configure a system on your own, multiply the estimated set-up time by 4 (to account for the system’s learning curve, complete training, test configurations, ask for help from support, and re-test before launching).

If you want to hire someone to complete the set-up, you will have an idea of how much it will cost to get what you want.

What does your system look like the day I sign up?

Ask to see a brand new account.

Or, better yet, ask for a free trial of the system. When you have the opportunity to navigate a CRM on your own, you can quickly understand how much time (or money to hire someone else) it will take to get the system to a place that will work for you.

I need (insert most import features you in a system). What will my monthly cost be with those included?

A common sales and marketing practice is to promote the lowest price to access a system in one advertisement and the most powerful features in another.

Typically, the attractively low price gives you access to basic features. Using the features and tools that caught your eye requires you to upgrade your account for a significant price jump.

Do you require a contract?

Be cautious of systems that require a year paid upfront or a signed contract committing you to a minimum service term.

Some companies say it takes a little time to set up their system, and don’t want you to give up on a system before it has a chance to work for you. The reality is they know their system isn’t quick or easy to set up. The long-term commitment is designed to discourage you from searching for another solution and agree to purchase custom implementation services.

A company with an intuitive system doesn’t need to convince you to sign a contract to retain you as a client. At sGrow, for example, we know we offer a great product and even better support. We understand it’s our job to earn your business month after month, without a contract to force you to stick around.

What type of support resources are available to me?

Does the service include a robust support center where you can quickly find the information you need? Do they offer individual and on-demand support to show you how to use the features that are most important for your business?

Is your access to support limited to chat or email? Or, do you have a dedicated team member who will get to know you and understand your goals to help you achieve results?

Are personalized support services included with your subscription, or are you required to pay to access these services? If so, how much does it cost to access premium support?

How long does it take to learn how to use the system?

What is included in initial training (if this is even available) and how long does it take to complete?

If you have access to a free trial, take some time to review training materials to determine if the time commitment is realistic for your schedule, timeline, and goals.

Too much to remember?

Download our CRM Evaluation Workbook to help you manage your search.

Step 4: Take Action

After completing your research, compare your top choices and sign up for the system that best aligns with your goals, as well as current and future goals.

If you plan to set up a system – customizing a sales funnel, crafting email drip campaigns, creating custom reporting – remember to be patient because implementation and copywriting take a lot of time. You probably won’t get everything right the first time, and you certainly won’t be able to build a robust funnel in a matter of days.

Break down your action plan into smaller steps. Rank system tools and functions from most to least critical based on your needs. Then, set realistic deadlines for each configuration. Block out time on your calendar throughout the week, and treat these time blocks as if they are meetings with very high-value clients. The sooner your system is in place, the sooner it can help you achieve your business goals.


If you don’t have the time or patience to set up a system or have a massive budget to hire someone to build it for you, you’ll love what sGrow has to offer