“What should I do today?” This question separates entrepreneurs from employees and veteran salespeople from newbies. While it seems straight forward, it is actually a lot more convoluted than you think. There is always a backlog of items on the to-do list and a seemingly endless amount of possible distractions. Prioritizing work is especially difficult because the results of each task are uncertain. Experience can provide lessons on highest value-add activities, but good salespeople are always scrutinizing their priorities and processes to try to find the most efficient solutions.
In commercial real estate, sales software has helped us organize our networks, automate workflow and remember important tasks. But, it hasn’t done much to help us prioritize our work efforts and answer the habitually nagging question, “what do I do today?”
Apto has just released details of their revamped platform that aims at helping commercial real estate professionals get their priorities straight. They call the initiative Prospect & Nurture and it uses the insights that they have gained from their users to add another layer onto the job of a CRM.
“CRMs have always been focused on workflow and so the technology is very reference based,” said Tanner McGraw, founder and CEO of Apto. “We are flipping the focus to be more about finding and building relationships.”
So, Apto is rolling out a new look and feel for their platform. It takes over some of the work of prioritizing tasks to build better relationships. At our recent CRE.tech LIVE seminar about commercial real estate marketing, Tanner explained how they went about rethinking their platform and, “rebuilding CRM from the ground up.”
Relationships are valuable, and will always be, because trust is important. Working with someone for the first time is harder than the subsequent deals because there is a lack of shared understanding and trust. But, for whatever reason, we tend to prioritize finding new leads. Tanner and his team saw this when they looked at their user’s work habits. “One of the biggest leaks out there, we found out, is not following up with people that you have already done business with,” he said. “We believe we should start there instead of with a pile of new contacts.”
This is done in a few ways. First, it prioritizes contacts that have proven to be successful. It groups together all of the contacts of the people that you have completed deals. The goal is to to help brokers stay top of mind with people who already know and trust them. As far as the team at Apto sees it, these contacts are so important that they gave a front and center position on the home screen and recommend regular checks ins.
Apto also uses the information collected on their platform and by their data partners. Their integration list includes Buildout, VTS, Real Capital Markets and ProspectNow, which all help enrich the user’s database. Combined with all the personal notes and account info brokers add, you get a detailed picture of the market and the contacts within it. So when you click into a call list, you can see properties owned by that contact alongside the note you added about the owner’s daughter getting into Yale.
But, the data collection doesn’t stop there. Prospect & Nurture will soon be incorporating external data such as pertinent news like new developments, infrastructure announcements and economic reports. Much like micro-traders who use algorithms to monitor if and when a stock gets mentioned in the news, Apto hopes to bring this kind of sophistication to commercial real estate. As an example, I personally would have loved for my CRM to tell me to follow up with my Nevada contacts the second the Raider’s announced their move to Las Vegas.
The organization of contacts is another big advancement. No longer will contacts be organized only by type like listing broker, sales agent, landlord, ect. Now, each contact will have important criteria like what types of deals they are looking for and what areas they are interested in. This way, if I have a new listing for a 10,000 square foot industrial space in Long Beach I can instantly bring up all of my contacts whose needs meet that criteria. I see this as especially valuable for smaller, local teams which tend to span multiple asset classes and use types.
As I said earlier, the best salespeople are always trying to improve their processes. Doing that effectively requires examining which techniques had the best outcomes and why. A good sales platform should be a tool for that as well. The advancements we have made in data science have created amazing breakthroughs by finding correlation where no one thought to look.
Now that all of our sales data is being collected, the feedback that will be generated can create seemingly continuous innovation to the sales process. That is another reason that using the right CRM is so important. If done right, they can do the heavy lifting for a broker or agent on determining best practices. That way a salesperson can focus on sales and companies like Apto help answer the ever important question, “what should I do today?”