Jon Ferrara the CEO of Nimble, which is the CRM that works for you everywhere you work. Nimble has raised over $9 million in venture capital, has over 50 employees listed on LinkedIn, and is used by over 140,000 professionals. Since graduating from California State University with a degree in Computer Science, Jon has founded three companies: GoldMine Software, FrontRange Solutions, and, nearly 13 years ago, Nimble.
As always, May I Have Your Attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your podcast into three months of social media content, you can find out more at Captivate.ai.
Your personal golden Rolodex [0:52]
Unify contacts in one nimble place [2:55]
How do you build connections at scale? [7:58]
Manage your people process to change your life [12:40]
Justin Nassiri 00:04
Welcome back to May I have your attention, a show about slicing through the noise online. I’m Justin Assyria and each week I chat with industry leaders about how to get key and monetize attention online. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast the three months of social media content? Find out [email protected] let’s get started with today’s episode. Joining me today in Santa Monica, California, my guest is Jon Ferrara. Jon, welcome to be to me, I have your attention.
Jon Ferrara 00:40
Justin, thank you so much for having me on today. I think that through conversations we both learned and hopefully people who were listening in, get some great tidbits as well.
Justin Nassiri 00:52
I agree. And I’ll I’ll say I’ve already enjoyed our conversation. john and i were chatting right before recording, they wish I had another half an hour just to continue that thread. But I want to give listeners a very, very brief background on john. He’s the CEO of nimble, which is the CRM that works for you everywhere you work, nimble has raised over $9 million in venture capital. They have over 50 employees listed on LinkedIn. They’re used by over 140,000 professionals. So they are doing great things. Since graduating from Cal State Northridge with a degree in computer science. JOHN has actually founded three companies, goldmine, software, Front Range solutions, and nearly 13 years ago, nimble. So john, maybe to start out on, take us back to the you know, take us back 13 years ago, what was the genesis of starting nimble?
Jon Ferrara 01:43
Well, I started to use social media in 2006, seven and eight, and I saw is going to change the way we work played by itself. And I started to look for a way to manage the relationships that I was beginning to build by building identity out in all the places where my constituency has conversations, and then sharing content to inspire and educate others about how they might become better, smarter, faster in the areas of my passions, and then engaging with the people that respond to that to turn those connections in conversations into relationships. If you do what I just shared, that you should do to build your brand and grow your network, you will have 10s of 1000s of connections. How do you manage those today, most people manage it in Google Contacts or spreadsheets, and where maybe LinkedIn and Twitter and I just think that you need to own your contacts, you need to have your personal golden Rolodex. And that’s really what I started in my journey on and building goldmine, which predates Outlook or Salesforce way back in the day, and I’m continuing to do with nimble.
Justin Nassiri 02:55
How do you do that? You know, immediately, I’m not exaggerating two conversations today, I was talking with people just you know about how do you keep your network alive? Like how do you keep track of people? And so through the lens of, you know, probably 20 years of this what’s what is your approach with nimble now, like, how do you facilitate that? How do you make that easier?
Jon Ferrara 03:19
Well, ultimately, I think it’s about organization, process segmentation, and effective outreach, right? And as a Submariner, you understand the value of process and organization, right. And if you look at most people’s contacts, whether you’re talking about personally, or professionally, or as a business, the contacts problem is the most massive problem in life. And so personally, your contacts are spread across maybe multiple email platforms, including iCloud, Google and Microsoft. Your contacts are spread amongst Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. And then if you use in any type of business app, and I’m still talking personally, like a MailChimp or a WordPress or QuickBooks, or whatever your contacts are spread in all those places. And doesn’t it make sense to unify your contacts into a singular hole in Ritson with people and company data so you don’t have to Google them, you nimble them, so that you then can effectively segment them and identify the people that matter the most to you. And then reach out and initiate the intimacy and trust that you need to build on top of that, to then build a relationship ideally, that’s paid forward, so that when you ever need those people, they they fall over themselves to help you Right. And so this is very basic concepts that have nothing to do with technology. This is just the way human beings have been forever and they know this category because I invented So there before there was outlook before there was Salesforce before there was a term contract management or CRM, I struggled as a human being to manage contacts. And I was in sales for a technology startup at a Boston, 1986 and 87. And I manage relationships with a daytimer. You may not know what a day timer is its base calendar contact to do organizational tool it used to use in your breast pocket of your suit, which nobody wears anymore, and nobody uses. And I struggled to manage the relationships that I was building, not just myself, but my team, because in order to build relationships at scale for a company is a team aspect approach. And there was a tool that ran on a network or notebooks that organized contacts. And so I quit my job at 29 years old, and they built it called gold mine started coming down $5,000, no bank loans, no venture capital grid, $225 million a year in revenue, silver was 14, I retired. And I got back in the business, like I said, because I saw that social media was going to revolutionize the whole interactions of human beings and the customer journey. And that I saw that Google Contacts not only wasn’t social, in other words, you couldn’t tie it to their social identities. But that Google Contacts isn’t even a good team contact manager because every team member has separate contact database in Google. And the same is true with Microsoft 365. And so not only do I does every company need a team contact platform that they can access across all departments. But I think that that team contact platform should then work with you everywhere you’re engaging, because the biggest cause of failure, zero is lack of use. The second is bad data lack of use, because you have to go to it to use it. and lack of bad bad data because you have to put the data in and human beings aren’t good at data entry. And computers are great at it. So if I put a name in nimble, it automatically will enrich it with all the people and company data, so I have to Google them. And then I know who they are, what the business is about. And I can then engage with them more effectively. But I think the biggest thing about relationships is it’s like a rocket or car 60% of the fuel is expended in initiating velocity, very little is needed to maintain it. Think of this visual, the guy at the circus with the plates on the pencils, you ever seen that. And so in order to get a plate spinning on a pencil, that’s pretty hard. But guess what? To keep it spinning, it just takes a niche, right. And so if you’ve initiated intimacy and trust with another human being where you connected on your commonalities, I call it the five Fs of life, family friend, food, fun and fellowship, when you connected on your commonalities you develop the intimacy and trust, then all it takes is every once in a while connecting with them, right? Yeah, pick up the phone or go see them or just comment on their stream or whatever it is. And they’ll go, well, gosh, you know, Justin remembered me or Yeah, you know, and it maintains that connection. So how do you build connections at scale? You do it by getting out in the digital river, and listening and engaging in the places where your constituencies grow and learn. And so for me, that’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. And what do I do in those places? I don’t get out there and shout how great I am or how great my products are. Nobody, effin cares. People don’t buy great products, they buy better versions of those sounds. So how are you going to build your brand and grow your network as you get out in the river, and you share content about how other people can be great. If you if you teach people to fish, they’ll figure out you sell fishing poles. So share your knowledge, give it away on a daily basis. And if you’re not good at creating content, think curated, go find the people that inspire and educate you in your areas of passion and purpose, and share that that content hashtag in the category and attribute in the name. And then listen and engage not with the person purpose to sell somebody something in order to serve that person, because service is the new sales. And if on a daily basis, you’re giving your knowledge away and connecting with others and listening to find ways to add value to that human being. They can’t help but love you, and then start blowing wind in your sails. And I think that is the new magic of the universe is paying others forward to grow your network and build this connected group of people that ultimately help you achieve your goals in life. Because the more people you have grow, the more you’ll grow. I
Justin Nassiri 09:33
love this I think for for listeners who don’t have a venture capital lens, you can see why john is able to raise $9 million, or why he’s able to grow his company to 125 million in sales, which is unbelievable. This pain point is so strong and to hear you say back in what 2004 2005 when people were just starting to learn about social media that you were connecting the dots of like this is going to change the way we interact. And it’s going to introduce new pain points that need to be solved. That’s very, I mean, it’s not, it is brilliant, I don’t think that’s an overuse of the term. And what I love about this too, is I can just anecdotally think of my friends where some are active on Twitter and others are on LinkedIn, like people want to be interacted in with in the channel that works for them. And it’s different. And it is absurd. The thought that other platforms and organizations own these relationships, like wanting to have all of that in one spot, like, intuitively makes sense. And I’m even morning, you know, that one, how much of this I do in Evernote for some stupid reason, but to you know, when I go on LinkedIn, and I was, you know, recently had a question, I was trying to figure out who in my network would be a good person to ask advice for, there’s so much garbage on LinkedIn, like me looking through my profiles, which is no good foot filtering mechanism. It’s so time consuming, and I would 100% invest the time to better manage that just for myself, let alone for my team. So I love this. I love this, this this sense that you’re you’re doing that what when I wanted to ask about this, you know, million things I’m trying to be judicious here. What what brought you back, you achieved what I’m sure every one of our listeners dreams of the thought of being able to retire at 40. That like having a success that big from $5,000 investment to 125 million in revenue. Is that unbelievable. What brought you back to do this again?
Jon Ferrara 11:39
Well, I think the biggest reason is I wasn’t done. I, I was blessed to be able to spend 10 years being a present father, husband and member of my community. And Justin, I don’t know if you have any children, do you? Yeah, two and a half year old. Okay. And you know how precious that time is, right? Absolutely. Yep. And so most dads don’t get a chance to be a present father or husband. Because you’re out there hustling, right? It’s what you have to do. And so after doing that, I learned so much I grew so much, but I had time on my hands because my kids were in school. And what do you do with your time I could have gone golfing I could have traveled the world, I could have got into all kinds of hobbies, and I did a lot of that stuff. But I love interacting with other human beings. It’s it’s something I think we get energy from, have you ever had a conversation we just felt pumped after talking to
Justin Nassiri 12:38
somebody? I’m doing it right now.
Jon Ferrara 12:40
So So I started to use social media. And imagine I was out of tech for 10 years, nobody even knew who I was right. And so I started using social media and immediately built this community around me that was vibrant, and I wanted to better utilize that community and engage with it effectively. And I had the same feeling in my head that I did when I built goldmine because when I built goldmine, I struggled to manage contacts myself and as a team, and I heard a chord in my head not in different than when Mick Jagger wrote Angie. Right. And you heard, you know, those chords, right? You hear those chords, and then you, you kind of play those chords for a few people. And you build the song and you go to a pub, and you play the song. And then you refine it and you start eventually played at a big club. That’s what I did, I started to interact with the people I was listening and engaging with on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and started sharing my idea about what social selling and social ship CRM should be. And there was no term for that. So I actually pioneered social selling and social CRM before they existed. And convinced LinkedIn Give me the public and private API. So nimble hat was basically better than LinkedIn Sales Navigator is today in managing your contacts. In fact, LinkedIn tried to buy nimble, but they weren’t intelligent to offer me enough money. And I and now, you know, you pay $125 a month for Sales Navigator, and it doesn’t even do what nimble did eight years ago. And so, look, if you’re listening to this today, you need to manage and own your contact period. Because every connection you make on a daily basis, is potentially going to change your life tomorrow. And so take every contact that you get, put it into some system to manage the processes. And think about this. The whole idea of people in companies is to put them through a process. And so if I meet somebody softly on Twitter who engages with my contact content, I might want to take that person and automatically build a record right from within the Twitter stream, which nimble does because there’s a plug in to your browser, and then take that connection from a soft connection and Twitter to a firm connection name link. Then, and then to a calendar meeting for face to face, like we’re doing. And then if you doing all that, right, I might connect with them on Facebook and Instagram, which is like taking somebody to a pub, or to your house for dinner, right? And so it’s a natural cycle that you do with these relationships. And many people think, Oh, no, it’s just gonna stop at LinkedIn. And I never want to actually connect with them on Facebook or Instagram, because that’s my personal stuff. Well, you know what life is personal people are personal people buy from people who like doing trust. So you need to take these relationships that start in whatever soft place they do, and then bring them into the firmer places, and then periodically reach out and nurture and connect with those people. And that’s exactly what nimble does. So nimble allows you to import your contacts from all the places we’re talking about, and then enrich them with the people and company data. And then and then use them where you engage. Where do we live, I live in my inbox, I live in the social places I interacted, I live in the business apps I use nimble sits in all those places. And no matter who I’m interacting with, I could bring up the record to be able to see who is Justin, what is this business about, when was the last time we interacted, but most importantly, enable me to follow up and follow through pieces, the basics that wins games, and most people fail at the basics, because they have to go to the CRM to log the note and schedule that next action. And if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do, you’re going to fail in life, and people aren’t going to trust you. So log a note on the call. So remember what happened, scheduled the next action because if you don’t have an extent with a key contact, then what’s the person’s purpose of having that contact? Right, everybody should have a next step. And set a reminder to stay in touch. and nimble does that because we synchronize your email and calendar, we know when you last interacted with somebody. And we could tell you, hey, it’s been X amount of time, since you’ve spoken to Justin reach out. And maybe I just go and share one of your podcasts or comment on one of your things. And you know, that I’m listening and hearing you. And I think that’s the most basic human need is to be seen, heard, wanted and loved. And if you can see here, and share, love and pay forward, the humans you care about, you’re going to build a network that’ll help you to achieve any dream that you have in life.
Justin Nassiri 17:22
So many I so many great nuggets of wisdom here. I love this thought that’s the basics that win the games. And I believe that most people are well intentioned, they want to stay connected, they want to add value. And our systems are broken, and they’re getting in the way. And I just think it’s beautiful. You know, I I’ll butcher the quote that you said, but that need around being seen and heard. I love that too, of just finding these ways to stay in touch. And from a business standpoint, it’s unbelievably powerful. And it brings me back to that first thing you said I’m picturing the rocket ship, and how much of the fuel just to get up in the air and so much less to just keep it there. Yeah, and there are so many tools for establishing connections, but so few good ones for maintaining them. And I’m just so happy that you’re bringing your brain power to solve this problem. And in a big way like this. I
Jon Ferrara 18:14
want to give you a preview of something we’re launching soon. That Yeah. Have you ever tried to use Trello to manage process?
Justin Nassiri 18:23
I stopped I stopped for sure. Yeah.
Jon Ferrara 18:25
You know why you failed to feeling any idea.
Justin Nassiri 18:29
I just felt it felt too unwieldy for it. It just felt too big for what I was trying to do.
Jon Ferrara 18:34
Okay, here’s the thing I ran into with Trello. I love the boards. I love the stages. But they weren’t connected to the people and companies I was doing the things with. Yep. And you need them. Right? And so we’re launching workflows in nimble, soon, that will have templated boards that fit various activities that different team members do in a company. So who is CRM built for? The salespeople? Maybe some marketing stuff? who feeds the leads of the salespeople? But what percentage of sales people in most companies very small, maybe 5%? What do the rest of the companies do to manage their contacts? Nothing. They they use the accounting system or the support system or god forbid Microsoft 365, or Google workplace space, whatever they call it these days. So what nimble does is it becomes not just the serum for salespeople, but the serum for the whole company, not just to manage leads and prospects and customers but to manage the entire constituency around your business. So what does that mean? and nimble I connect to we connect to editors, analysts, bloggers, influencers, third party developers, investors, advisors and prospects and customers that’s the community around our business. And in order to properly hire somebody or recruit somebody or outreach for marketing, influencer marketing or PR or investing testers or, or, or even sales or leads. These are different workflows. And we built templates with custom fields for those workflows, that different depart, members can use to manage the workflow. So imagine this, you’re in Twitter or you’re in LinkedIn. And you see this contact that looks good for a particular purpose that you have in mind, it might be to sell them something, it might get them be to be on their podcast, it might be to get them to write about you, whatever it is, wouldn’t it be great to be able to hover on that name, automatically build a record and put them in a workflow that makes sense for that person, they can then manage the workflow process through the stages to completion to achieve your goal, instead of trying to type that person in your CRM, and then go and schedule a task that you need to do. And that task isn’t related to a particular workflow that you know, that works. And so having templated workflows for various tasks within departments across an entire company, we’ll make it really easy for people to tailor nimble to their unique processes. And then we’re going to add automated processes, which will automate, automate that whole thing. So I trademark automated processes 30 years ago, with his actions based on triggers, if this and that for people in companies, if you put a name in goldmine, and it looks like this, goldmine will do that, maybe day one, send them a fax, or God forbid, send them an email, day seven, schedule a call for a rep, if a sale happens, stop that track and started its cycle track. Do you know what its cycle is? Hmm. So the ID cycle on a house is about five years on a relationship. It’s about three years. So there’s its cycle. On a car, it’s about three years as well. And so if you know the ID cycle of your customer, you can start messaging them in the period of time when that it starts happening. So there’s various unique techniques that you could use to manage the workflows of contacts and companies through your business. And we’re launching something soon. That’ll be really exciting for our existing and future customers.
Justin Nassiri 22:11
Well for listeners, I will notify you I will stay in contact with john I will notify you in that new feature is available. I don’t think you need to wait on on that to sign up for nimble because I think that there’s so much value here and I’m going to sign up as well. But john, thank you so much for your time. I know we went over on your time and you’ve got a million things to do but so exciting to hear what you’re doing and I’m so excited learning from you. So thank you for your time today.
Jon Ferrara 22:36
Thank you Justin. Really appreciate it.
Justin Nassiri 22:42
Thank you for listening to May I have your attention. Each episode I meet with top marketers thought leaders and experts to find out how individuals and brands can get keep and make money with attention. You can subscribe to me I have your attention on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. show notes are provided for each [email protected] slash podcast. May I have your attention is brought to you by captivating AI, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content, find out [email protected]