Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble: Clarity Via Simple CRM

Technology and all of the features that come along with it are great. However, sometimes it’s necessary to remove the noise, confusion and technicality and get back down to basics. Tune in as Jon Ferrara, CEO of Nimble, a clean and simple contact management system, joins Brent Leary to discuss the benefits of removing the clutter to hone in on what really matters when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM).

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crmSmall Business Trends: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

Jon Ferrara: Sure. Some people call me the ‘Don Quixote of Relationship Management.‘ I have been doing CRM and SFA longer than those acronyms have existed.

I dreamed up an idea called GoldMine and that idea was that it would empower the entire company to collaborate, communicate, nurture and build business relationship to grow that company’s revenue and profitability.  And I am back to fix what I think got off track in CRM. Because it is not about relationships.

CRM is a transactional logging system where you force your sales people to type in what they did and who they did it with so that management can run reports. The sales people today still live in their contact tools.  Those contact tools are:

  • Outlook
  • Address Book
  • Google Contacts

But the problem is the way they communicate is scattered in six different tabs in browsers and three different apps, and desktops.

We are here to fix that with Nimble.  Nimble helps your company turn conversations into cash.

Small Business Trends: Turn conversations into cash – a good thing.

Jon Ferrara: You know 20 years ago, I trademarked “Turn Your Contacts into Gold ®,” and we did that with GoldMine.  One of our secret sauces was this thing called automatic processes. I think that most business people don’t need these complex systems that are out there today, these expensive CRM and marketing systems.

Most businesses between 5 and 25 people need about 10% to 20% of the functionality that all of these systems have.  That’s what GoldMine did so well.  What Nimble does is gives you the core of things that you need to attract and retain customers.  It is simple. It is:

  • Contact
  • Calendar
  • Communications
  • Social list engagement
  • Collaboration

There’s a little bit of sales and marketing thrown in.  That’s all you need in a business today.

As your needs grow, we integrate the key things that allow you to extend where you need to extend. We integrated with HubSpot to manage leads and now they are our business partner.

So the division of Nimble is that we are going to integrate the core things that businesses use as they grow the marketing platforms, support platforms, listening platforms, collaboration platforms and even the sales platforms.

Small Business Trends: What’s going on with this new partnership you have with HootSuite?

Jon Ferrara: HootSuite is a great social media dashboard. If you bring up a contact in your HootSuite stream or in Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, you have no idea what you said or what your team members said.  Or the history of the engagement or what is pending and who is going to do what.

By integrating to HootSuite, when you bring up a person who is talking to you, or about you, or your brand, you can see their complete history, if they are in Nimble, of every conversation on every channel that they ever had with you or your team – email, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin.

If they have commented on your stuff, if they have talked about your brand or you. Then you can schedule follow-up actions, activities, forecast deals and schedule activities for your team members that enable you all to stay on one page.

The reason that is important is because if you start using Nimble in sales, marketing, customers service, products and then in the executive suite, where everybody is on one page, you need to have that history in one single location.

That gets me to social selling, because I think that is the next beachhead that is going to happen as it moves from marketing and community management into the rest of the company. I think sales people are going to benefit the most from that engagement.  Because – don’t sales people need to understand who their customer is?

Small Business Trends: They absolutely have to understand who their customer is, who their prospects are and the best way to build that relationship with those folks.

Jon Ferrara: That’s right.  So if you go into your Twitter stream or Facebook or Linkedin, you have a single identity. If you see in HootSuite somebody wanting to engage with, you can pull that person out of the Social River and put them in your Nimble database by clicking a button in HootSuite. That contact turns from a one dimensional Twitter profile into a three dimensional living and breathing person where we map out their profiles across all the networks, and show you who they are.

This allows you to look at their walls to figure out what you share in common and to begin to understand how you might best to approach them to develop the relationship required for them to open up to you about their business issues, which as a professional, you can then solve.

Mae West said:

“Out of site is out of mind. And out of mind is out of money, honey.”

Small Business Trends: I don’t know if I have ever had a conversation where you haven’t brought in a Mae West quote.

Jon Ferrara: People don‘t know it, but she was a smart business woman.

Small Business Trends: If you watch those movies, she was all about business.

Jon Ferrara: Business baby.

Small Business Trends: Are there any other integrations that we should be on the lookout for?

Jon Ferrara: We’re going to be announcing something every month. It is not just the big guys like Zendesk, Get Satisfaction, Yammer, SalesForce QuickBooks, but all the little guys.

Because ultimately, we need to stay focused on the core, key simple things that would empower you to attract and retain customers:

  • Contact calendar
  • Communications
  • Simple social list engagement
  • Basic sales and marketing

Small Business Trends: Where can people find out more?

Jon Ferrara: Follow me on Twitter where I teach every day. I am trying to empower people.  I am @Jon_Ferrara.  Find us at

And for your community Brent, I would like to make this offer:

Receive a 90 day FREE Business Trial

Register at:  Nimble Free Business Trial (normally 14 days)


Subject line:  Extended 90 Day Free Business Trial, Brent Leary Interview Offer, Small Business Trends



This interview about a simple customer relationship management (CRM) approach is part of the One on One interview series with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above.

This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.

Brent Leary Brent Leary is the host of the Small Business Trends One-on-One interview series and co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm covering tools and strategies for improving business relationships. Brent is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger.