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Tech Know

Using Tech to get leads, market effectively, and organize listings.

By Tracey C. Velt
Featuring Alyssia Essig, team lead of the Essig/Bass Home Team of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Mid-Atlantic, Timonium, Maryland

When Alyssia Essig received a call from a woman in Oakland, California, asking her to list a home she had in Essig's market, she was surprised. "She told me, 'This may be a little weird, but I found you on Instagram, and I have a house that I need to sell in Baltimore,'" says Essig. It turns out, the potential seller found Essig by searching hashtags on Instagram. "I use a program that picks 30 different trending hashtags for every Instagram post I post, and the best part is it’s free.”

Here’s how she uses the app Hashtag to get more leads through Instagram:

  1. Marketing her listings. Essig uses Instagram to showcase and sell her listings. Before posting, she opens her Hashtag app on her phone, describes the subject matter, and the app will generate 30 hashtags. “It’s great because they aren’t just random hashtags. Most of them are relevant and trending, plus they’re ones I wouldn’t think of,” she says.

  2. Lead generation. Using hashtags allows Instagram users to search for what they’re looking for. The California seller had inherited a home from her father, who lived in Baltimore. “Ironically, I was going to San Francisco for the National Association of REALTORS ® conference the next week, so she drove to my hotel to meet me in person. She signed the listing agreement on the spot,” says Essig.

Marketing Efficiently and Effectively

"Everybody knows you need a customer relationship manager (CRM)," says Essig. "The question is always, 'Which one do I use?'" For Essig, the answer is Sierra Interactive. "What's special about Sierra is its partnership with GGMS or Gallagher Group Marketing System." She notes that Sierra has all of the things you need for lead management, such as drip campaigns and action plans, along with an autodial function. "However, it has the capability for them, but it doesn't have the content. That's where GGMS comes in," she says. Here's how she's using it:

  1. Lead action plans. "You can upload your database list, and choose action plans based on each contact," she says. The program has hundreds of action plans that are accessible with the click of a button. "It sends a combination of texts and emails for the next three years," she says. "A new 22-year-old agent just started using this. He uploaded his entire sphere of influence, and the program will send out invites to go to coffee and more. He had one person respond that he didn't have time for coffee, but was selling his house in the spring so he would call then," says Essig.

    “We all know that we’re supposed to touch our sphere of influence. With Sierra and GGMS, it's all set up. It's designed with the intent of asking for referrals, but it's not intrusive. You don't have to call people because it's doing it for you," she says.

  2. Google pay-per-click campaigns. Sierra and GGMS make it "easy to run your ad programs. All you do is set your budget, and it will run your campaign," says Essig. "We've been using the program for about 30 days and already have about 80 leads,” she says.

Essig says Sierra Interactive is about $400 a month, and the GGMS add-on is another $400 a month. "It pays for itself if we get only one closing a month," she says.

Organize Listings and Transactions

Keeping track of listings and transactions for a team can be difficult. Essig has found that Evernote takes care of the organization so she can stay focused on her to-do list. "Every transaction gets a notebook, and everything goes into the notebook, from the contracts to receipts to photos to marketing fliers, and more," she says. Here's how she uses it:

  1. New clients. "When I meet a new client, I will start a new notebook," she says. Essig created a bunch of templates to streamline the flow. For new clients, she has a client information template. "I have them fill out their information, and then we put that into Sierra Interactive and get them on an action plan," she says. 

  2. Home inspections. "I also use it at home inspections. I attend every inspection, and I'll write down how it went and what issues came up," she says. "Because I have that information, I can start working on getting quotes to get things repaired. We get a jump on it, so when the buyer does come back with requests, we're prepared with an answer." Essig will take pictures and include them in the notebook, as well. "The notebook can easily be shared with the seller,” she says. 

Because information is backed up in the cloud, it will sync to all your different devices. "Everything in Evernote is searchable, shareable, and online. My assistant can access it too," says Essig.  

For Essig, technology is a vital part of her business. In addition to her career as a real estate professional, she is a business coach with Tom Ferry International. She notes that GGMS is coming out with some new functionalities, such as an ISA program, that will wow most real estate professionals. “In my opinion, it's the best platform out there that's available right now.”

About the Contributor

Tracey C. Velt is an Orlando-based freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing about the real estate industry.