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Why Active Agent for Outlook? - Monday, August 9, 2010

Are you tired of Contact Management software with an
inflated price and a deflated feature set?

Discover how you can use Microsoft
Office® as Your FULL Featured
Contact Manager
...

You've probably paid too much for big name contact management applications, only to find out that it required hours of training to use and therefore just sat on your shelf! A wise person once said, "The best software is one that you actually use". Well we took that quote and made it the cornerstone of our contact management applications.

I cannot tell you how many people I spoke to who lamented their purchase of what they thought was 'the contact management application'. So much so that 'the contact management application' is now 'the bookend', because it just sits on their shelf!

What if I tell you that you can use standard desktop applications (Microsoft Office®) to manage your contacts? No more stripped down word processors or email software with a feature set resembling what everyone else was using 10 years ago! Keep your contacts, email, task list and schedule in Microsoft Outlook®; and use Word® and Publisher® for word processing and flyers! Seems like too much to ask for, well its not. Why should most everyone else out there be able to take advantage of the industry standard desktop applications, and you as a real estate agent be forced to use other less functional software?

"Well, I have tested so many systems including Top Producer®, and it amazes me that given how much these systems cost, their functionality is so lacking! None of them seem to get it right. That is, power, simplicity & functional applications for the way that a real estate agent runs her/his business.

REMS/ACTIVE AGENT FOR OUTLOOK® is so awesome! First & foremost because most of us use Outlook® as our primary email software ( I use it intensely) & this is where most of our contacts live. Secondly, REMS utilizes an Outlook® platform & builds a powerful contact system around/within it to create a real estate software program that really works. I think it is well thought out & very functional.

Now I manage, communicate & keep in contact with my clients and customers with ease and confidence. And it has already paid off.

Practical, smart, clean, easy to use, effective, efficient, & is not bogged down by unnecessary or frivolous tools. And most of all, it is supported. I don't feel like I am out there by myself. You have personally spent a significant amount of time answering my questions and fixing my bugs with incredible patience & diligence.

Thanks so much for getting it! I really appreciate this REMS Product."


Ty Harris, Realtor®
The Condo Connection
Long & Foster
Washington, DC 20008


About 3 years ago I was in a similar situation as you, searching for the right contact management system, not for me but for my wife. My wife is a Real Estate Agent in Austin Texas. In searching for products I was shocked on what I found, over priced software that looked like it was designed for Windows 3 (circa 1992) or software that wanted a monthly fee of $30-$60/month! No thanks!

I did however find one product that was reasonably priced and provided all the basic contact management features she required; that product was Active Agent. Well similar to what Victor Kiam did with the Remington shaver ("I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company."); I liked the product and it just happened that the original developers of Active Agent were looking for a buyer of the product line, so "I bought the product line!"

Within the first year after re-releasing Active Agent we began to get the same question asked fairly regularly, "Why is there not a real estate contact management product like Active Agent available for Microsoft Outlook®?" It did not take too many of these requests for us to realize that we need to develop a real estate contact management system for Outlook®.

In August of 2003, after 8 months of development, we released version 1 of Active Agent for Outlook (then called REMS). Since then we have rolled out no less than 25 free incremental updates to version 1 and then in April of 2005 version 2 was released. Version 2, now call Active Agent for Outlook, boasts one of the most robust feature sets of all the real estate contact management systems on the market today, bar none!

In Active Agent for Outlook we built the key features that you have been asking for in a real estate contact management system. And, we put them in an easy to use package that works within Microsoft Outlook®. With Active Agent for Outlook you will be able to:

  • Quickly and easily create merge documents, without even knowing how to set a merge document up on Word®
  • Send a personalized letter to a contact with a few clicks of your mouse
  • Schedule follow-ups for a contact while you are still on the contact with a single mouse click
  • Print labels for a few contacts, an entire category, zip code, city, state, etc, with a few quick mouse clicks
  • Track your buyer's requirements
  • Track your client's entire family's birthdays and even add some or all of them to your calendar
  • Create any number of transaction records, for your client
  • Create drip marketing campaigns, we even created a few for you including 84 professionally written letters
  • Automate your checklists with campaigns
  • Print your letters for the day with a few quick mouse clicks
  • Set your goals using the principles outlined in Gary Keller's Millionaire Real Estate Agent book, without spending hours crunching numbers
  • Generate amortization schedules that you can then email to your client.
  • Mass update a list of contacts to add them to a category
  • Convert a standard Outlook® contact to Active Agent for Outlook Real Estate Contact
  • and so much more....

Just image what that could mean for your business. What if you could stop wasting time trying to learn how to use software and just install it and begin being more productive? Isn't that the point of using software in the first place, to save you time and gain productivity; not to give you another thing to learn and consequently cost you time?

Stop wasting your time and money on
complex proprietary software

Let me ask you again, why should everyone else get to take advantage of the industry standard product for word processing, email and flyers/postcards, while you are saddled with stripped down versions just because you want a real estate contact management system? Well they shouldn't, you can now use Microsoft Office® to manage your contact database without giving up the features you want in a contact management system. Let's take a look at how Active Agent for Outlook can help you organize and grow your business:

  • See Immediate gains in productivity - By leveraging standard desktop applications at the core of Active Agent for Outlook we are able to significantly reduce the learning curve and allow you to see gains in productivity day-one.
  • Maintain a single contact database. By moving your contact management into Microsoft Outlook® you no longer need to maintain an address book for email and another for your contact management system; it is all done from within Outlook® now!
  • Easily stay in touch with your contacts. With the ability to quickly and easily generate letters for your clients there is no longer an excuse not to ‘touch’ your clients on a regular basis.
  • Standardize how you run your business.  With campaigns you can now create automated checklists for the routine tasks you normally do during the different phases of a transaction. 
  • Print all your documents for the day in a few minutes each morning.  With the campaign and letter manager you can pull up all the letters/emails that are scheduled to be sent for any day and with a few mouse clicks get them sent.
  • Set your Goals based upon your actual business metrics.  With the Goals Module you can input the specifics of your business and it will crunch the numbers and calculate the number of contacts you need to make on a weekly and monthly basis to achieve your desired income goal. You can even have it add your goals to your task list as a recurring weekly task.
  • Create Word® mail merge documents without having to open a single manual or help file. You'll never have to stumble through another lengthy help file to learn how to setup Word® to do a mail merge.  By using Active Agent for Outlook you can now click on merge templates and create a new merge template, its that easy.
  • Maintain a consistent history of your interaction with your clients. All the activities you create from within Active Agent for Outlook are automatically linked back to the contact it was created for, that way you do not lose your history for a contact.
  • Spend time selling not writing letters. By providing you with 84 professionally written letters you can reallocate the hours and hours that you would spend writing your ‘stay in touch’ letters to more productive tasks.
  • Selectively export your contact data, easily - Have you ever tried to export a subset of your contacts (e.g., buyers category)? I am sure you realized very quickly that it is not possible. You export an entire folder or nothing at all. With Active Agent for Outlook you can, with a few quick clicks, create an export file and have it attached to an email based upon all or part of the following:
    • Category
    • Name (first or last)
    • Company
    • City
    • State
    • Zip
    • Email
    • Title
    • Phone
    • Distribution list
    • or Select them individually while scrolling through your database
  • Create Appointments and Tasks that automatically reference your contact - How many times have you wanted to pull up your contact and then see all the appointments and tasks that you had with this client. Well unless you added the contact to the contacts field at the bottom left of the task or appointment that history is gone. With Active Agent for Outlook you no longer have to worry about that happening again. If you schedule an appointment or task for a contact(s) via the toolbar we automatically make that association for you. Not only do we link the appointment and task to the contact we even insert the contact's name and phone numbers in the body of the appointment or task for you.
  • Create records of your Transactions - You may be thinking this all sounds good, but "I need to track information about my transactions in my contact database." Well, with Active Agent for Outlook you can! Create any number of transactions linking them to your client's contact record.
  • Automate the creation of flyers - Do you spend hours creating your property flyers? Now with Active Agent for Outlook you can create your flyer templates once in Microsoft Publisher® and then reuse them over and over again. On the Property/Transaction you enter your flyer text, up to 8 images of your property and the location of your Publisher® and we will merge it for you*.

This is just a partial list of the benefits that you will see by using Active Agent for Outlook to manage your contact database. But don't take my word for it look at what some of our customers are saying:

Randon downloaded version 1 and was instantly using it...

"WOW is all I can say. You guys are going to knock-em dead with this program. I downloaded the trial last night and instantly was using the program.
No instructions, no learning curve, just started using the program.
After about an hour, I purchased the program and am loving it. I am going to demo the program to my marketing class at my office and recommend it to other agents."

Randon Reaves
Keller Williams
Houston, TX 77024

Kathy is a Broker/Owner in Atlanta as well as an ePro and Allen Hainge CyberStar...

"I'm glad to tell others about this program!! I used Online Agent for years and became increasingly more frustrated with the lack of simple integration for email to/from clients. So, when my laptop was stolen, I chose to not reinstall that program; instead, I began using Outlook exclusively. I was then faced with finding a solution for the missing real estate functions that were integrated in my prior system. I purchased another program that is advertised as a real estate add-on for Outlook and was sorely disappointed. Once again, the program required leaving Outlook to complete functions such as marketing and activity campaigns. The only functionality that had been added (as far as I could tell) were additional contact record data fields. And, the program conflicted with ShareOutlook, the program we use to keep our data synchronized among our staff. After much frustration I deleted that program and began another search for the perfect solution.
My friend, Joe Molnar, had recommended REMS to me more than a year ago. He was still satisfied with the program and that was all I needed. After a trial download I was convinced!! The program offers all the integrated functionality I wanted - and more. It has never conflicted with another Outlook add-on program! The customer service has been phenomenal and, by all appearances in Version 2, responsive to agent feedback. Keep up the good work!!"


Kathy Drewien, CRS
Broker/Owner
North Atlanta Realty Group
Marietta, GA 30066

Steve is the number 2 agent in his Keller Williams Office...

"Wow, you're fast! I'll tell you I really love the product and I'm sure we still aren't taking full advantage of all of it right now. When asked what I use by agents in our office I tell them I've used them all, which is true, but that I love the combination of Outlook with your product best. Works clean doesn't slow down my machine and keeps even our busy schedule in line every time.
Trust me I'll keep sharing your web site link. I've even demo'd your product to a few agents off of my laptop. It has a great impact on them. It doesn't hurt that we were #2 in our office of 250 agents last year either ;) They like using what we're using. Like I said hopefully you'll see the benefit soon from them coming over.
"

Steve Bradley
Keller Williams Realty
Manassas, VA 20109

Jim is a seasoned real estate professional of 20+ years...

"I have been actively selling real estate full time for 20 years in the Denver area. I have constantly used contact management systems for most of my years in the business. Sonoma Enterprises has been outstanding in fulfilling my needs with regard to managing my contacts. My dream was to be able to really use Outlook for my contacts but couldn't get it to really work for me other than e-mail management. Now I spend 90% of my time in Outlook as opposed to switching from one program to another. This has saved me time and money. I am more efficient and speedy as I spend my daily power hour making calls and e-mail follow-ups. This product fulfilled my dreams as far as taking care of my needs and has made me more productive. My assistant loves the product too. She is printing labels and categorizing and mail merging with ease. Something we struggled with in my previous contact management software."

Jim Urban
Urban Companies
Lakewood, CO 80228

Amy has uses campaigns to stay on top of her business...

"With REMS, I love how I am able to create my own campaigns and then am reminded on my outlook tasks manager of what needs to be done each day. I'll never forget a one year anniversary of a client buying a home again."

Amy Serra Albright, ABR
RE/MAX Encore II
Clarkston, MI 48348

As you can see there is a TON of features in Active Agent for Outlook and YES you can satisfy all your contact management needs and still use standard full featured applications!

The top needs that I hear over and over again from agents are:

  • Be able to systematically and easily 'touch' their customers and prospects
  • Have a system that reminds them about critical events, such as
    • Birthdays
    • Contract and listing milestones
    • Follow-ups
  • Have one place to see all the interaction with a client/prospect
  • Have a system that they can provide immediate productivity

Active Agent for Outlook has been designed to directly addresses these needs, along with so much more.

All of this is available to you
RISK FREE

Here is the best news of all: unlike the other real estate contact management systems which require you to pay up front, we are giving you the opportunity to try the FULL UNRESTRICTED application FREE!

We feel so strongly that once you install and begin to use Active Agent for Outlook you will see the enormous value and begin to see benefits in your business immediately! So much so that you will ask yourself how can we provide all this functionality for only $299?

Just think about the time you spend each week creating and sending out letters to your contacts. If you send 20 letters a week and spend 15 minutes per letter (writing, merging and printing), that is 5 hours each week just to get the 20 letters out. With Active Agent for Outlook we give you 84 letters to choose from and with the quick letter feature you just select the contact, pick the letter and print it. You turned a 5 hour task into (at the most) a 10 minute task, saving you 4 hours and 50 minutes!

You may say, "I don't send 20 letters a week", well just think how much more business you could be doing if you were sending constant and consistent communication to your prospects and clients!

This is just one example, but as you can see, you will recoup the $299 investment many many times over!

So where are the
Hidden Charges?

Okay, having purchased software before you must be asking "so how much do I pay annually for support and how much is it going to cost me to get updates for new versions of Microsoft Office?"

The answer is: There are NO any additional charges! Support is included in the purchase price of $299 and we provide comparability and service updates free of charge on our website!

Our approach to business is very different than other companies; we believe in charging a fair price for our products and designing them so that they do not require extensive training or ongoing support. This permits us to not charge for ongoing support simply because our support load is so low!


P.S. Don't forget that your software is tax deductible as a business expense. Depending on your tax bracket, its actual cost could be up to 40% less, once your bookkeeper deducts it on your tax return... so be sure to remind him/her, because s/he'll might be too busy counting all the cash that comes pouring in once you're using it.

Minimum System requirements:

  • Windows 2K/XP/Vista
  • Microsoft Office 2000/2002/2003/2007
* Merging of images requires Publisher 2003/2007

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Contact Management for Outlook - Thursday, April 9, 2009

Contact Management with Outlook – All the bells and whistles without the big learning curve.

What is Contact Management?

In the most basic form Contact Management is a system/process that a sales person uses to maintain and manage current information about the list of people that make up their universe of suspects, prospects, customers, clients, friends, etc.  A contact management system is an enabling tool that allows a person to effectively market and stay in touch with their contact base.

Why is this important?

As an agent you must differentiate yourself from every other agent out there.  One way to do this is to build deeper relationships with your prospects and customers.  With the harried pace we keep today there is no way for us to remember everything about all of our contacts – enter your contact management system.  With an effective contact management system you can record the important events and attributes of your contacts, set up reminders to stay in touch and even have the contact management system manage the correspondence that you use to stay in touch with your contacts.

The bottom line is that your contact management systems should save you time, make your life easier and provide a systematic way of remembering all those important facts about your client(s).

The ugly truth about the ‘average’ agent’s contact management system.

As a sales person we all know how important it is to have a contact management system, right?  So, why then do so many agents not have one?  Or have one and never use it?  Well there are many reasons, but one that I hear over and over is that they (you) do not have time to learn software or your job is to “sell” and not master the latest and greatest piece of software….

The KISS approach to Contact Management.

I bet that we all can agree on one thing: having something that provides some basic Contact Management or CRM (Contact Relationship Management) features that you will use is better than nothing (or having a overly complex system that you will never use).  Also, by being able to leverage a piece of software that you may already be using (and are comfortable with) will allow you to gain some of the CRM efficiencies without having to climb the steep learning curve.

There lies the case for looking at a product/products that you are already using and see what efficiencies they can provide with respect to CRM.  The product that I am referring to is Microsoft Office – specifically, Microsoft Outlook.  If you own any version of Microsoft Office (except for Student and Teacher Edition) you have Microsoft Outlook.  If you know how to write a letter in Word®, or use any of the other tools in the Office Suite then you have 80% of the knowledge to use Outlook since the user interface is largely shared by all the tools in the suite.

So, what do you get with Outlook for a CRM point of view?

Back to our definition of Contact Management: “maintain and manage current information about the list of people.   Outlook has 4 major areas: Mail, Contacts, Calendar and Tasks.  If you look at the Contact section you will notice that you can:

·         Create and save any number of contacts

·         Group your contact by type (using categories)

·         Store information about each contact, including the following:

o   Name,

o   Address (home, work and other),

o   Phone (19 types of phone numbers),

o   Company name,

o   Job Title,

o   Email addresses (up to 3 email addresses),

o   Website,

o   IM or SMS address,

o   Birthday and anniversary (if entered they will automatically be added to your calendar and remind you),

o   Spouse

·         Link contact to events and emails.

·         Capture and save notes on the contact

So, looking over the list above you can see that you can maintain and manage a good selection of information about the contact as well as segment your database (group them by types of contacts), email them and document your interaction with them.  Certainly beats a bunch of ‘Post-It” notes on your paper files. 

One other important benefit of keeping your contacts in Outlook is that it you can sync this data to your PDA or Smart Phone.  Most all the Smart Phones (Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, iPhone, etc) have already written programs to allow you to share your contact between your PDA/Smart Phone and Outlook. 

So, what about all the bells and whistles?

As you can see Outlook fulfills the needs of a basic Contact Management system, but what can’t it do and where are the holes?  What we see as the 3 main areas that agents need more than what basic Outlook can do is:

·         Extended Contact info - Buyer requirements, kids’ b-days, closing dates, contact source, etc.

·         The ability to automate your normal transaction and marketing processes – Listing checklists/campaigns, lead follow-up plans, etc.

·         Tracking Listing/Purchase Transaction information.

So, what can an agent do to fill in these holes? 

There are several ways to be able to leverage the experience and expertise you have in the Microsoft Office Suite and still get the bells and whistles you want/need to most efficiently run your real estate business. 

You can customize Outlook to fit your needs.  Outlook allows you to modify the contact forms as well as add new forms to represent the items that are missing (e.g., transaction records).  If you are like most of the agents that I talk to, about right now you are saying ‘I’m not a techie, I’m a real estate agent – modifying forms is not for me’. 

This leads me to the second and recommended approach.  Look at a program that extends the features and functionality of Microsoft Outlook to fill in the holes that exist when used as a CRM solution for Real Estate.  Active Agent for Outlook is a best-of-breed real estate CRM – it provides the contact, campaign and transaction management functions an active agent needs without the painful learning curve! 

As a wise person once said “the best software is one that you will use!”  That is why we offer a free trial of all of our products.  In particular, Active Agent for Outlook has a free fully functional 14 day trial.  To access and download this trial, just click on Active Agent for Outlook on our home page (http://www.sonomaenterprsies.com) and on the right side of the product page just above the ‘Add to cart’ button there is a Download Sample Button.  If you find you need more than 14 days, no problem, just email us at support@sonomaenterprises.com with when you want the trial to end and we will send you a link to extend your trial so you have adequate time to try it out.

 

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Active Agent for Outlook 2.0 - Sharing Data - Thursday, April 9, 2009
What to share your AAO data in a team environment.  Read and share your best practices in this blog.
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