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Have you ever done the same thing for thirty or more years wishing for different results? Even at thirty years or older? As I write this, I’m listening to Bob Marley. I saw him in concert in January 1981, just a few months before he died. I’ve been listening to Bob Marley for longer than that. His music is heartfelt, soulful, joyous, angry, poignant, sexy. It touches on the range of human emotion. It never gets old, and like all great art, it grows with you and you can always find a nuance that you were not necessarily able to appreciate because maybe you just weren’t ready for it before.
I started Perlmutter Properties in 1989, just a few years after I entered commercial real estate. QuantumListing launched a little less than two years ago. One of the great things about taking on new challenges is that you are forced to learn and try new things. As a personal aside, I haven’t always been great about trying new things. I went for the first 35 or 40 years of my life (I’ll be hitting 55 this summer. GULP!) without really eating too many vegetables. They used to make me want to gag. Thanks to the patience and encouragement of my wife, and maybe just a little maturity, I’ve become pretty good at eating my veggies.
When I started QuantumListing, it was with the idea that I would build it in a way that would scale. As a result, I decided that I would implement programs that would make that possible. I wanted to have a CRM and marketing automation platform for QuantumListing that would be up and running when the time to scale arrives. I was pretty much a rube in regard to this. I looked at Marketo, Hubspot and Salesforce.com. Nate Strong from Socedo had given me my initial glimpse into the potential of marketing automation. I’m pretty sure that Socedo uses Marketo. Reading Mark Benioff’s book, Into the Cloud convinced me to go with Salesforce.com for QuantumListing.
My experience at QuantumListing with Salesforce.com has been good, but I feel like it’s like trying to swim across the English Channel, or from Cuba to Florida. It’s complicated. It’s got tons of features and is super customizable, but for my self-funded small business start up, it was complex and overwhelming. And you’re probably better off having a team helping you implement it. Nobody swims across the Channel all by themselves.
Meanwhile, at Perlmutter Properties, I had started using the free version of Hubspot’s CRM. It was good, and helped me keep track of my agents’ deals, and my own. For me, it was a little bit clunky and didn’t really fit into my everyday workflow, but it had some nice features, it was free, and it was better than me just trying to remember everything.
I had been toying with the idea of exploring other CRM alternatives for Perlmutter Properties when Andrew Bermudez sent me an email about his newest venture, Digsy.AI. I first got to know Digsy and Andrew through my involvement in commercial real estate tech. Digsy is a broker referral platform that grew out of Andrew’s experience as a commercial broker. Brokers apply to become part of the Digsy network, and as leads become available in their market and area of expertise, they are given the opportunity to work with potential customers. Digsy gets a fee for referrals that they made that the broker closes. When working on a Digsy generated deal, the broker keeps Digsy updated on the progress. Digsy is able to extrapolate patterns of behavior for the brokers that close the most deals, and offers advice on best practices on how to close more deals. I’ve closed a Digsy deal, and I’ve taken every opportunity I can to learn from these best practices and try to have my agents implement them at Perlmutter Properties. And guess what? Their insights work! We’ve definitely improved sales performance thanks to Digsy.
So, when Andrew called to tell me about Digsy.AI, naturally I was interested. He walked me through the demo, and I was really impressed with their interface. Antoine St. Exupery (the guy who wrote Le Petit Prince that you had to read in French 1) once wrote, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Digsy.AI‘s interface really fits that bill. It is intuitive and straightforward. There is nothing there that you don’t want or know how to use. Here’s how they describe it on their website: “Digsy AI is an easy & powerful prospecting engagement platform specifically designed for CRE. It helps you easily generate new business without the complexity of CRM.”
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent trying to master Salesforce.com, Salesforce Engagement and Pardot for QuantumListing. After Andrew walked me through the demo, I committed to introducing Digsy.AI to Perlmutter Properties because I thought that it was powerful yet simple enough for my sales team to adopt it without a huge learning curve, and reap incredible benefits as a result of using it.
After we agreed to go forward with Digsy.AI, everybody in the office got one-on-one training. And to further simplify the on-boarding experience, they offered to upload any contacts and deals into the system for us, and the Digsy folks are pretty flexible as to what that entails. For me, that meant integrating the info from a spreadsheet I’d been keeping with all my leads into the system. For another guy in the office, it meant uploading all of his contacts. Both were done effortlessly on our part, and great follow-up by the Digsy team to make sure everything was satisfactory.
For me, Digsy.AI has become an instant habit and I’ve integrated it into my workflow. Digsy AI integrates directly with your email. Tracks all emails and replies sent to-or-from a prospect and I can see them all in one central place. I hear that the team is also working on automatically tracking calls made from my cell or desk phone, so that I never have to manually input a call I’ve made to a prospect into the system ever again. Thank God! Who likes data entry? NOT you, not me. I love the email updates that I get every morning with my follow-ups for that day. Every new lead gets entered into Digsy.AI and is now followed to its ultimate conclusion, whether it’s a closing or into the lost deal bucket. One of the sayings we have in the office is “the sin of omission yields no commission.” Now, there’s no excuse for not following-up with a prospect. Happily, gone are the days of dozens of Post-It notes scattered all over my desk and on my computer monitor. It all goes into Digsy.AI automatically with very little data entry. My team has been a little slower to embrace all of the elements, but I am confident that they will get there soon. Digsy also helps sales leaders like myself to look at the sales activity data and provide insights on what my team can be doing better. There’s no doubt that a couple of the deals I’ve closed recently happened faster because the discipline that Digsy.AI gives me. I’ve had conversations with some of my colleagues at other companies recently about what they use to stay on top of their deals. Answers range from Post Its, to Act! to Outlook as well as other dedicated real estate CRMs. And an additional benefit is that the Digsy team is looking at the meta data of the people using their platforms and are extracting and sharing best practices and giving easily actionable tips on how to close more deals faster. They don’t share data from other companies, I can only see mine, and that’s all I need to make sure my brokerage team is achieving ultimate performance.
As for me, I’m happy to be hitching my sled to Digsy.AI. It’s still early days for them, and part of the excitement is finding new features being added on a regular basis. They are also backed by investors such as a former CEO of Apple, venture firms and a board member of Zillow! So, after 30 plus years of being a broker, I am happy to say that I am still refining and improving my practice. Maybe I wasn’t ready to commit to a sales development tool before at Perlmutter Properties, but Digsy.AI is clearly going to be an important part of that going forward, it is undoubtedly improving my process. And the unintended consequence of using Digsy.AI at Perlmutter Properties is that it has improved my understanding and use of Salesforce.com for QuantumListing. So, yeah, after more than 30 years of doing the same thing, I am still completely open to learning and doing things even better than I have been in the past. So, good bye Post It notes, and hello, Digsy.AI. Like Bob Marley sang, “When one door is closed, don’t you know that many more are open.”