Many years ago I interviewed a gentleman by the name of Arthur Rubloff. He's a legend in the Chicago real-estate scene, both residential and commercial. He was extremely successful, and the company he founded lives on today.
Several interesting tidbits surfaced during that interview, but there's one thing he said that still intrigues me. In fielding a question regarding what he thought made him a success in the real-estate industry, he replied "I work smart, not hard" — which brings us to the concept of automating the marketing and lead-management process.
In a nutshell, marketing and lead management systems — also called customer relationship management systems — take the process of following up on home buyer leads to a new level by using automation.
Sophisticated lead management software programs can help builders and their sales staff work a lot smarter.
"Marketing automation is about doing more with less: running more campaigns, reaching more prospects and collecting more leads while minimizing costs. Ultimately, then, it's about selling more homes, faster, at a lower cost of sales," says Steve Lewkowitz in the white paper "Smart Marketing: Automated Marketing and Lead Management." Lewkowitz is a professional services director for Pivotal CRM .
In his book, "Browsers to Buyers: Proven Strategies for Selling New Homes Online,"  new-home online sales professional Mike Lyon identifies CRM systems that are geared toward home builders and have a proven track record. Those include Open Leads, Customer Velocity, Be Home Wise and Pivotal CRM, among others. A Google search using the term "CRM for home builders" yields other CRM system providers as well.
Lyon offers this advice: "Take your time, compare your options and be sure to speak with customers who are actually using the program. Make an educated decision for the long term and plan ahead. It is never fun to try and switch software with a database full of leads, notes and records."
And if Arthur Rubloff were around today, I'd bet he'd have his sales staff utilizing an automated leads management system.