Using Gmail's Contact Application for Prospect/Contact Management

For me it's all about time and efficiency - how useful for time in data entry.

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I've probably used a couple of dozen database applications for contact and prospect management. I've also built my own customized applications on various online and desktop database applications. What I found over time was that I spent too much time in getting prospect and contact data into the system, tying it to ongoing communications with the contact, and finding the data later. What I mean to say is that the value out didn't justify the time and effort in data input and tracking.

The Gmail Contacts application is no great shakes, as it limits custom fields, and a real estate professional wants to maintain information about buyer preferences and seller properties in many cases. 

So, I just use Gmail's Contact application to call people (Google Voice connects me with a click), and to keep up with their email address and very basic contact information. That's all I need from that application, as all of the other buyer and seller information can be handled differently due to Google's amazing search capabilities. Think about how you communicate with most contacts and prospects...it's email. So, you're already gathering a great deal of communication information in Gmail anyway, and a simple search on their name or email address will bring up all of those email communications in reverse chronological order.

But, using another Gmail Labs feature called "Canned Responses," I can have all of those special buyer and seller information fields right in Gmail.

I build a canned response to pull up an email ready for me to fill in those field items, then simply send it to myself. Because I start the email with >Contact Record as you'll see below, I will have all of this information in Gmail to call up anytime I need it with a search like ">contact Jim Kimmons." The only email I will pull up with that search is the contact information email.

So, it's easy to look up what I need to know about a buyer's preferences. If I just search on their name or email address, I'll get this record as well as all of my other communications with them. Here's my canned response email text for you to copy out and edit for your needs: (you'll need to put in 3 or 4 spaces between selections with the ":" as I can't do it here and you'll just need to type in an X next to the ones that apply when you're filling in the form email to speed up the process.)

>Contact Record

Name(s):

Email:

Street:

City: State: Zip:

Home Phone:

Office Phone:

Cell Phone:

Type:
Appraiser: Attorney: Builder: Buyer: Seller: Buyer/Seller:
Electrician: Inspector: Insurance: Interior Design: Landscape:
Other: Past Client: Pest Control: Plumber: Realtor: Repairs:
Roofer: Septic: Surveyor: Title: Vendor: Wells:

Lead Source:
Email Response: Homes Magazine: Newspaper Ad: Other Print:
Other Transaction Side: Radio Ad: Realtor Referral: Referral:
TV Ad: Walk In: Website: Wells:

Lead Note:

Buy Property Type:
Any: Commercial: Farm/Ranch: Home: Investment:
Land Only: Multi-family:

Buyer Area Interest:

Buy Hi $: $

Buy Min Lot:
Any: <1 acre: 1 - 2 acres: 2 - 5 acres: 5 - 10 acres:
10 - 25 acres: 25 - 50 acres: 50+ acres: 100+ acres:

Ground Cover:
Any: Farm/Ranch: Forested: Pinion/Juniper: Sagebrush:

Buyer Style Interest:
Any: Pueblo: Territorial: Modern:

Buy Min BR:

Buy Min BA:

Other Buy Wants:

Seller Prop Type:
Any: Commercial: Farm/Ranch: Home: Investment:
Land Only: Multi-family:

Sell Lot Size:

Sell Style:
Any: Pueblo: Territorial: Modern:

Sell BR:

Sell BA:

Sell Value $: $

Sell Notes:

Think about what is accomplished here. You still would have had to enter all of these info items if you're using a database application. It might be faster, but by doing it this way, I end up with everything in one place, Gmail. A ">contact + name" search gets me this info quickly. Or a search on their email or name gets me every contact I've had with them. But, it gets better. Since I always have Gmail open, I can just email myself a note about a contact at any time, using their name, and it will come up in the search as well.