CRM Steadies the Foundation of a Struggling Housing Market
During a time in which the terms "housing," "real estate," and "subprime mortgage" are making the domestic and global economies shudder with fear and loathing, homebuilders -- and some software providers -- gathered in Orlando, Fla., for the 2008 International Builders Show to identify paths to success in the housing market.
CDC Software's Pivotal CRM unit says it's constructed a possible rebuilding tool for the industry: the new version of Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate 5.9. The updated software, now generally available, looks to help builders increase revenue and margins on home options, while reducing cost and effort of integration with common back-end systems.
Upgrades to the Pivotal CRM solution come directly from client feedback, says Steve Lewkowitz, professional services director for the home building & real estate group at CDC Software. "We have a very strong users group [whose members] help us prioritize or identify enhancements to our product," he explains. "One of our goals is to constantly improve upon our product, so we [can] provide customers with all the information they need as the market changes -- tools they need to really help them do better marketing, nurture leads, and hopefully convert leads into customers."
Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate, according to the company, is designed to help firms in that vertical to "manage relationships throughout the customer lifecycle." The solution includes help in marketing automation, lead management, sales automation, quoting and contracting, surveying, and customer care. Some of the new features in the 5.9 edition, according to the company, include:
- product library enhancement with support for units of measure;
- option rules and extended wildcarding;
- group calendaring including support for delegation; and
- C# conversion.
Lewkowitz says the options/selections process was a major area of concentration for the updated version, especially with the growing trend among builders to move toward virtual design software. With that technological shift in mind, CDC Software constructed a two-way bridge for builders to use Pivotal CRM in conjunction with Envision, an enterprise suite of applications developed by New Home Technologies, a subsidiary of Builder Homesite, Inc.
The bridge enables builders to offer each buyer a personalized portal with only that buyer's options for use in the design process. Lewkowitz says many builders, including his company's clients, are using Envision in addition to Pivotal CRM. "[Envision] allows [builders] to graphically depict what their options are and provide warranty information -- information they need so they can initiate the sales process," he explains. "We felt a strong need to provide [the bridge to Envision] with our clients, streamlining the integration between the two systems."
Lewkowitz says the newest version of Pivotal CRM is taking into account the notion that homebuyers are often extremely skeptical and slow to make a purchasing decision. "You want to make sure you are giving them as much information as possible and staying in contact with them because the selling process takes longer now," he says. "People aren't typically coming in and buying on the spot."
Melissa Morman, vice president and general manager of Builder Homesite and New Home Technologies, says this integration will enable builders and real estate professionals alike to maximize sales, especially in the current fiscal market. "In today's climate, our builders are looking for every possible way to not only maximize the take rate of [building] options, but also to drive more leads and sales on the front end," she explains. "Having this integration in place helps builders take advantage of both these crucial opportunities while reducing implementation costs and speeding up launch cycles."
Lewkowitz admits that "the feeling among homebuilders is that the market will remain soft in 2008." However, he says, there is industrywide confidence about a rebound in 2009, and this year affords an opportunity to build up CRM technology in advance of the coming wave. "The [housing] market should start to pick up again in 2009, but a lot of homebuilders are looking to get their tools in place during this soft time. So, once the market turns, they will have tools in place to continue to sell."
The 2007 Market Awards: Midmarket Suite CRM
The landscape among midmarket suite vendors is loaded with firms vying for increasingly limited technology-budget dollars; facing escalating competition, CDC Software's Pivotal CRM and Onyx Software (now a Consona CRM solution) again failed to secure positions on this year's leaderboard.
Interactive Intelligence Plugs in an Upgrade
The company will begin rolling out by year's end the latest version of its IP business communications software platform -- a release focused on security, integration, simplified deployment, and mobility.
Double-Digit CRM Growth -- But Double-Digit Failures and Double-Digit License Limbo, Too
Companies will shell out 16 percent more on customer management apps next year, but nearly one-third of companies have experienced failed implementations -- and 25 percent of all CRM licenses go unused.
Sales Configuration Vendors Are Splitting and Tangling
Recent market research from Gartner shows overall consolidation but with divisions appearing between specialists and megavendors.
CDC Software Nabs Saratoga Systems
The acquisition, which is expected to close within two weeks, will help expand CDC Software's portfolio of vertical-specific CRM solutions.
CDC Responds With an Acquisition
The company buys Respond Group, a vertically focused acquisition aimed at expanding CDC's industry-specific offerings.
CDC Gobbles Up MVI Technology
Vertical-specific RPM solutions provider MVI Technology may help the enterprise solutions provider to get more industry expertise and functionality.
CDC Ups the Ante For Onyx, Again
This time, CDC is offering an all-cash deal to try to stop a signed acquisition agreement between Onyx and M2M Holdings.
CDC Software Is Back With a Higher Bid
Given Onyx's previous rejections of CDC's offers, some may say that this proposal will experience the same fate.
M2M Holdings Mines Onyx
A holding company wins the bid, and will take the company private; CDC loses out on the chance to acquire its CRM competitor.
CDC and Onyx: Round Two
Pivotal's parent company makes another bid for the rebounding Onyx Software, putting cash into the deal for shareholders.
Onyx Rejects CDC's Acquisition Proposal
The company cites a lack of synergy between the two organizations; CDC finds Onyx's lack of communication 'dismissive' and 'unusual.'
Onyx Is Pivotal's Quarry
The enterprise software vendor might be talking acquisition, but miscommunication has marred early efforts.
CDC Acquires c360 Solutions
Pivotal's owner is buying a Microsoft CRM partner, strengthening the bond between them for the time being.
Pivotal and CDC to Merge
After a slew of offers Pivotal shareholders decide on Chinadotcom's takeover bid.
CDC Release Pivots Around Microsoft Technologies
Pivotal CRM 6.0 makes the platform more familiar for users.
Buyer's Guide Companies Mentioned