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.

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