Apto Maps helps commercial real estate brokers prospect and win deals by providing visual, interactive tools to analyze a market. It’s a new feature in the Apto suite of cloud-based CRM tools built on the Salesforce.com platform.
Our first review comes from our good friends at Apto. They have added a new map feature to their popular broker CRM that you have probably seen advertised on your Facebook feed.
Before I start talking about the feature I think it is important to point out Apto’s unique approach to CRM. Last year they redesigned their entire product around the idea that your most important customers are those that you have already done business with. This is a diversion from the typical, “Glengarry Glen Ross” priority of fresh leads. Focusing on customer acquisition might work for vacuum cleaner salesman but in the high stakes, tight knit world of commercial real estate trust isn’t earned with a sales pitch. Once a broker has become a trusted partner the probability of closing future deals with a client go up exponentially.
With that in mind let’s start dive into Apto’s new map feature.
Taking it for a test drive
The first thing that I noticed when using the platform was the ease of finding a property. They have used Google Map data which gives the search bar the ability to predict the address if the search term isn’t exact. It easily compensated when I used “Ave” instead of “St” (and for my terrible spelling). It also has the ability to look up cross streets and pull from their business directory to search by company name.
That last part led me to the example that I will use to outline the advantages of using a map in conjunction with a CRM. Apto is in Denver, a city I only have passing knowledge on, so I decided to see if I could get an idea of what parts of town were creating the most value. I didn’t even get as far as WeWo before I saw a good candidate for some additional research.
Just northwest of downtown is an industrial area surrounded by two WeWorks, the Union Station office and the new LoHi WeWork location. Besides the obvious windfall of having two trendy coworking locations in the neighborhood, the area has access to public transit (Union Station isn’t just a trendy moniker), easy freeway access, and the whole area is dissected by a bike path laden park/openspace.
If I were a broker in the area I would outline the streets that made up the neighborhood (Apto built in a polygon feature because property markets are pretty much never circular) and find any previous deals I had done in the area.
From there I could pull a list of all of the property owners that I have done business with and flag them for a call. If they have a lease coming due or another property in the area it would be good for them to start thinking about converting from industrial to office or lofts since a shift towards a more professional demographic seems imminent.
The maps feature also give the ability to look up properties by the tenant, not just the address. This solves a lot of complications that arise in big buildings or shopping centers that have multiple tenants under one street address.
What surprised me
What surprised me was how my thinking about my client list changed when I looked at it through the map feature. I stopped thinking about it as a top-to-bottom list, like it exists on my CRM, but as a roadmap of where I have been and where I might want to go (or go back to).
I think this is a great step towards more useful sales tools for brokers.
If I could change anything
There are a few things that I would want to see that I think would make this an even more useful tool.
One would be the ability to automatically import listings. Since companies like CoStar would probably never go for it I can hardly fault Apto for this. For now, brokers have to input any new listings if they want to have a “wish list.”
The other thing I would like to see would be the ability to set up alerts. If I have a client that is looking for certain type of property in a certain area it would be helpful to be able to flag that in case a contact or listing gets added that meets that criteria. The Apto team hinted that something like this might be in the works soon, so I am excited to see how that develops.
Apto Maps is included in the base Apto CRM subscription which is currently billed annually at the rate of $129 per user per month ($1548 per year).
I hope this gives everyone a good idea of what this new map tool can do. Again, I am happy to hear any of our reader’s thoughts and questions about this, just add them into the comments. Stay tuned for more product reviews coming soon.