CRM, social media, social business and the future – Interview with Jon Ferrara of Nimble

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Recently, I spoke to David Meerman Scott in Inbound marketing is about instant communications and creating content – Interview with David Meerman Scott.

To follow that and as a result of my attendance at that conference, I met Richard Young (@richard_y), the Director of EMEA at Nimble. He arranged for me to speak to Jon Ferrara, the CEO of Nimble and a veteran and pioneer in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Social CRM space.

In the interview, we have a broad ranging discussion about customer relationship management (CRM), social CRM, social media, social business, the changing nature of business, relationships in business and personal and professional effectiveness.

This interview makes up number thirty-nine in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping create businesses that customers love.

Below are highlights from our interview:

  • Jon Ferrara is widely regarded as pioneer in customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Created Goldmine CRM in 1989 and built the business for 10 years before exiting
  • How we communicate with our teams and our customers has shifted dramatically since he founded Goldmine and businesses need to shift with that if they are to keep up.
  • His most recent venture, Nimble, came about after re-entering the business arena and finding that existing CRM systems were not keeping up with the proliferation of social channels. Nimble is his response to that and ties all of your email, contacts and social conversations together in one place.
  • Many existing CRM systems are adding a ‘patch’ onto existing systems to cover the ‘social’ dimension but many are failing to really get to grips with what a new social CRM system needs to do. Nimble was built from the ground up with that in mind.
  • Historically, CRM systems were about controlling and monitoring sales people and teams and forgot what the ‘R’ meant ie. relationships.
  • CRM should be about listening, relationships and engagement and not just a ‘tool’ to log and track what people are doing.
  • Any tool that you want people to use needs to ‘enchant‘ them and help them if they are to use it.
  • CRM is not just about sales people it should be used by all people in an organisation in a connected way that interact with your constituency (customers, analysts, bloggers etc etc).
  • Social CRM should help individuals and businesses build and nurture their personal brand and network such that it helps them develop that into opportunities and increased revenues.
  • Most companies operate like castles and we need to tear down the walls and the silos if we are to create more ‘social’ businesses.
  • Jon’s 5 E’s of social business are Educate, Enchant, Engage, Embrace and Empower (your customers)
  • For some businesses in some sectors, social media and social business, like the initial impact of the internet, is like a ice age coming and many will perish.
  • Social is the fabric of humanity – we all love to connect and be connected. It’s part of who we are. There is a chemical and physical reaction when we connect both in the personal and business spheres.
  • Most business professionals are using email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn amongst others and so at the core of their relationship management they are operating in 4 or more different ‘silos’.
  • However, what that means that we don’t tend to have the full ‘context’ of the conversations that we are having with our ‘contacts’.
  • Nimble’s iPhone and iPad apps are scheduled to arrive in Q1 2013
  • With the proliferation of platforms and information, the biggest challenge that business professionals have is minimising the noise and maximising their effectiveness. Most of us feel like we are ‘digging a hole in the sand’ every morning and what we need to do is reduce the amount of noise and focus on the things, the people and the relationships that matter.
  • Nimble’s job is to reduce the signal to noise ratio and surface opportunities for engagement.
  • Business is a top on mind game and it was Mae West that said ‘out of sight is out of mind and out of mind is out of money, honey!’
  • It’s the basics that wins games.
  • Say what you are going to do, do what you say, stay top of mind and follow through and that will help you retain customers, referrals and orders.
  • The best thing Nimble can do is to educate it’s users as outside of the tech, social, kool-aid drinking audience most people don’t really know what social media and social business is.
  • There is a danger that there are too many social media and social business thought leaders talking amongst themselves and they are not educating their constituents in how to get the most out of these changing times and technologies. Thought leaders need to turn and face out the way and teach the rest of the community about the power and application of social media and social business.
  • If you can teach people the importance of social media and social business then people will consider using your tools or your services.
  • Social media community is a pay it forward society
  • Go to Nimble and sign up for a free business trial. Normally, the free trial is for 30 days but if you email info@nimble.com and say that you heard this interview then they will extend that out to 90 days.

About Jon (taken from his Nimble bio)

John Ferrara Nimble

Jon has over 20 years of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Sales Force Automation (SFA). An entrepreneur at heart, Jon founded GoldMine CRM in 1989 with a college friend and turned it into a very successful venture that he eventually sold to FrontRange.

In 2009, Jon founded Nimble, Inc. and is ready to strike again!

You can connect with Jon on Twitter @jon_ferrara and Linkedin. Also, don’t forget to go to Nimble (www.nimble.com) and sign up for a free business trial. Normally, the free trial is for 30 days but if you email info@nimble.com and say that you heard this interview then they will extend that out to 90 days.

Thanks to jovenjames for the image.

Comments

  1. I love the idea of enchanting your customers. It reminds me of a Walt Disney quote:

    Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends

    Unfortunately companies that do are few and far between

    James

  2. Hello Adrian
    This line spoke to me:

    “Jon’s 5 E’s of social business are Educate, Enchant, Engage, Embrace and Empower (your customers)”

    Technology is just a tool. Technology can enable humanity or inhumanity to flourish. The issue with business is that business as practiced today is the opposite of social. It really is. So bringing about social business is a transformation in worldview, in power relations, and in organisational practices. That is like asking people to give up being greedy. Good luck.

    Maz

    • Hi Maz,
      Indeed, technology is a tool and it is our worldview that needs to change. However, at the beginning of every fundamental change in the way that world operates there are always some early innovators, promoters and early adopters as well as nay-sayers and those that will get left behind.

      I believe the world can change and will change. What do you believe?

      Adrian

    • Maz

      Thank you for contributing to the conversation. I agree with you the People and Process will be the key impediments to Social Business transformation. Fear of loss of control by managers and cultural structures baked into many companies will keep them stuck in the old ways of doing business. The natural selection of life will cause these companies to die and the businesses that adapt and change will win. Social is causing a revolution to the way our customers interact with us and their expectations. It is also doing the same for employees and their expectations of openness , transparency, empowerment and engagement from management.

      Welcome to the brave new world.

      Best

      Jon

  3. The interview is really amazing though. He was so witty and very professional about the topic. I’m really glad I was able to watch this.

  4. This is huge. We are using both Nimble and Hootsuite and this collaboration is going to take social selling to a whole new level. The level of intel, history of conversations and ability for a sales person to really connect and engage with a prospect on their level is incredible. This is great news – Great post.

    • Hey Darrell,
      Thanks for your comment and dropping by. I agree. I’m just getting started with Nimble, still haven’t spent enough time using it and feel like I haven’t even touched the sides yet. I love the idea that Jon talks about that it will unify all of the silos that I communicate it. Good times!

      All the best,

      Adrian

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  50. […] Disclosure: I have used Nimble and have, also, interviewed their CEO, Jon Ferrera in CRM, social media, social business and the future. […]

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