Customer relationship management software has become one of the most essential tools in a realtor’s arsenal. More than seven out of ten real estate professionals use a CRM tool, an Inman survey of agents and brokers found. Top Producer, Market Leader, eEdge, Contactually and Realty Juggler are the most popular CRM platforms in the industry, the survey revealed. Most respondents paid a monthly subscription fee for use of their CRM. The median investment in CRM fees was $600 annually, but some respondents paid as much as $26,400 a year.

Real estate professionals are willing to pay this much for CRM tools because they realize the return on investment they can yield when used properly. Here are three ways CRM tools can help real estate professionals attract and retain customers and generate more sales.

Generating and Managing Leads

Inman’s survey found that lead integration and lead generation services were among the most-desired features in a CRM tool. Successful real estate selling relies on a constant flow of leads from multiple lead generation systems, including referrals, networking, online advertising, organic searches, social media, video marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing.

One of the big advantages of a CRM tool is that it lets you collect data from all these diverse lead sources into a single interface for easy viewing, says Zillow director of industry outreach Jay Thompson. By centralizing your database on a CRM platform, you can conveniently view leads from all your lead sources on a mobile device no matter where you are. To keep your customer database secure, choose a device with strong security features, such as an Apple iPhone 7 with built-in encryption and Touch ID.

Leading CRM tools such as Top Producer integrate with popular lead generation services such as Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia, helping to generate leads automatically as well as manage them. For optimal use, a CRM platform should make it easy to import lead data from these types of source as well as other formats, including manual data entry, advises PCMag business editor Oliver Rist. For real estate teams, a CRM platform should have role-based access privileges so that managers can see leads before agents do and assign them appropriately.

Reactivating Past Clients

While most real estate agents see customer relationship management software as a tool to attract new customers, CRM can be equally useful for keeping in touch with past clients, says Thompson. Eighty-eight percent of home buyers say they would use their real estate again or recommend them to others, the National Association of Realtors 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found. Despite this, only 12 percent of buyers actually use their previous agent. This discrepancy reflects the fact that home buyers don’t purchase homes frequently, making it easy for their relationship with their agent to lapse. But for a proactive agent, this represents an opportunity to cultivate referrals and repeat business by keeping in touch with clients.

A CRM tool makes it easy to implement this strategy. For instance, you can record information about a client’s birthday, anniversary or date of their home purchase in your database and use this to send out periodic greeting cards or other strategic communications, such as an annual calendar with your contact information on it. You can also use your CRM database to solicit referrals from satisfied buyers.

Optimizing Sales

CRM also empowers real estate professionals to optimize the sales process and maximize the odds of landing a sale. One way CRM does this is by allowing you to record data about clients in order to customize and personalize the sales process. You can record exactly what a buyer’s preferences are and match this to properties that meet their criteria. You can also track your interactions with them from one contact to the next in order to gauge where they are in the sales process and what the next step to move them toward a buy should be.

Tracking this information can also be useful for optimizing your deployment of your agents. For instance, you can use smart analytics tools to sift through your data, identify your hottest prospects and prioritize them. You can then check the availability of your best agents and match your top sellers to your hottest buyers.