Jon Ferrara is a CRM and Relationship Management entrepreneur and noted speaker about Social Media’s effects on Sales and Marketing. His most recent venture Nimble.com has re-imagined CRM by building a Simply Smarter Social Sales and Marketing platform. It is the first CRM that works for you by building and updating contact data for you, then works with you, everywhere you work.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:59] – Jon has been an entrepreneur his whole life
- [01:09] – He’s a ½ technical and ½ sales and marketing person
- [01:15] – He got a sales position in the 1980’s
- [01:31] – Jon essentially invented a combination of Outlook and SalesForce combined, a social sales and marketing platform called GoldMine
- [01:39] – He retired at 40 to raise his 3 children, but then went back to the business because of social media
- [02:29] – Jon is now back to helping people grow by building technologies that help build relationships
- 03:01 – Jon was on episode 246 of Entrepreneurs On Fire
- [03:49] – “Most people ignore their best prospects and customers”
- [04:00] – Build personas of people who adopt your products and services to be able to utilize people you’ve already sold to before
- [04:27] – People struggle to find prospects
- [04:45] – Your intention as a business owner should be to help other people grow
- [05:41] – The biggest thing for businesses: just focusing on customers
- [05:54] – A business should go after its customers’ influencers as well
- [06:13] – Influencers are the people who bring you the deal
- [06:17] – In 1989, Jon built the world’s first networkable sales and marketing contact tool
- [07:39] – You need to figure out who your key prospect is and who their trusted advisor is
- [08:26] – There were no technology resellers when Jon started Nimble
- [09:44] – Share content on a daily basis
- [10:53] – “That’s why they call it salesforce, because they’re forcing sales”
- [11:13] – Most people use CRM as a contact tool, but in reality you should be using it to empower your customer base and team members
- [12:49] – One of the biggest mistakes people can make is buying a CRM tool just because everyone else has one
- [13:12] – The biggest cause of failure for a CRM is lack of use or bad data
- [15:18] – Microsoft came out with NT server, sequel server and exchange server – all tools for businesses’ databases and emails
- [15:29] – GoldMine switched to Microsoft and made it their back-end when they started to scale
- [15:50] – Today, Microsoft is doing the same thing to Gmail and Gsuite
- [16:13] – What Jon is doing is riding that by building premium add-on’s for Microsoft 365 users
- [16:33] – Microsoft is now bringing Nimble to the end users
- 17:44 – Google Jon Ferrara or connect with him on Twitter and via email
- 18:22 – Sign up for Nimble.com and get a 33 DAY FREE Trial – just mention Entrepreneurs on Fire to Jon’s team :)
- [18:42] – Focus on helping other people grow and you will get every single dream you want
Jon: Let’s rock and roll, John.
John: Jon’s a CRM and relationship management entrepreneur, a noted speaker about social media’s effects on sales and marketing. His most recent venture is Nimble.com and he’s reimagined CRM by building a simply smarter social sales and marketing platform. Jon, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Jon: Well, John, you know, I’ve been an entrepreneur, I think, all my life. I grew up with my dad on his car dealership and inspired by my uncle who went to MIT and helped invent radar and microwave. So I’m one half technical and one half sales and marketing. And I got thrust into a sales position back in the ‘80s and they gave me a day timer and pink while you were out slips and because I had a computer science background I knew there had to be a better way. I searched for a solution, I couldn’t find it. This was before Outlook existed, before Salesforce existed, before the term CRM existed, and I essentially invented the combination of Outlook and Salesforce combined, a social sales and marketing system called GoldMine.
And I retired at 40. And I spent ten years raising three babies and I got back in the business because I began to use social media, I saw the way it was gonna change the way we work, play, buy, and sell and I looked for a solution that integrated social and contacts. I couldn’t find it. Then I looked at today’s CRMs and saw they weren’t about relationships, they were about reporting and that nobody in their right mind would use a CRM if they weren’t beat on to do it. That’s why they call it Salesforce; you gotta force salespeople to use it.
So I got back in the business to build a simply smarter social sales and marketing system called Nimble that layers on top of the operating system of your business which is either Gmail, G Suite, or Office 365 because you need contacts, calendar, and communications to work. But what you need is something that layers on top and gives you what’s missing is the contact manager, or the GoldMine, and something that helps you grow your business, something that does social sales and marketing. And that’s where we’re at. I’m back on the saddle, riding the horse, helping other people grow by building technologies that helps them build relationships.
John: Wow, I mean, Fire Nation, I for one can say thank goodness that Jon’s back in the saddle because we need you, Jon, out there in the world creating this greatness. And if you can just kind of understand from what he just shared, the value that he’s bringing to this world. I mean, you can understand why he was able to retire at 40 and focus on raising his three kids and then say hey, you know what? There’s an opportunity, I’m coming back and I’m gonna be dropping value left, right, and center and making things happen.
And by the way, if you’re recognizing his voice and his last name, which is Ferrara, then you probably remember episode 246, which by the way was 1,550 episodes ago. I had Jon on my show and we had a great talk about his journey, his worse moment, his aha moments, he crushed the lightning round. So go back and listen to that because it’s fascinating to hear what I was up to 1,500 days ago and what Jon was up to 1,500 days ago.
And today’s talk is gonna be a little bit different. We’re gonna be focusing really on some of the core ideals that businesses really need to be focusing on today. And I kind of wanna kick this off by saying Jon, how do companies actually identify their core prospects and customers these days? What’s the best ways that you’ve found that people are actually doing this?
Jon: John, most people ignore their best prospects and customers. And their best prospects and customers are in their accounting system. They already sold to people that fit them the best. And if you could simply build personas of the people that most likely adopt your products and services and understand what their companies are about, what type of industry, what size, and then what role in use case they’re using your products for, then you could go and identify the people you’ve already sold to to sell them more, or to get them to refer you, or ideally, to be able to go out in the social river and find new people, net new people like that.
Because ultimately I think people struggle too much to go out and find the right prospects, build relevant and authentic relationships, and then help them grow, which helps their business grow. I think the biggest problem most people do in business is they try to sell people and you shouldn’t sell people. Service is the new sales. So your intention as a business is to help other people grow and if you focus on that as opposed to selling them something, helping them grow, you will grow your business.
And John, you’re testimony to that. All you do all day long is help other people become better, smarter, faster and because of that you could retire today. But you don’t because you dig helping people grow and that’s what every business should do.
John: So I love this too, Jon, and I really appreciate your kind words and how you used me as an example. And can we maybe jump into another example of either how you’re doing this with Nimble or how a company that is doing this right now that you’re seeing and admiring is doing this? Because I really think those concrete case studies can be really helpful for Fire Nation.
Jon: You bet. So I think that the biggest problem that people have is identifying prospective customers and building those relationships and figuring out how to grow their business. And I think the biggest thing that they – mistake they make is just focus on prospects and customers. It’s not just prospects and customers who are gonna help you grow. Ideally to really scale and leverage your ability to access prospects and customers, you should be going after their influencers as well.
So imagine if, rather than trying to go out and find all the prospects and customers that you could, you focus on their influencers and build relationships. Pay it forward once with them, then those influencers will then bring you into those prospects and customers and you wouldn’t even have to advertise. Basically, they would bring you into the deals and that would help you grow.
As an example, how we built GoldMine. So imagine, 1989 I built the world’s first networkable sales and marketing contact tool and networks just started. People didn’t even know they needed network business applications, let alone a CRM. So what I did is I built a relationship with the trusted advisor of that prospect, that small business, and that’s the person that sold them the network, their technology reseller, and I then built a relationship with them by getting them to use GoldMine because people sell what they know and they know what they use.
Then they started recommending it and resell it to the thousands of businesses they sold networks to. And that’s how we started GoldMine without ever taking a dime of venture capital or any bank loans and basically scaled it to $100 million. And it’s a easy thing that you could replicate today.
John: So one thing that I’m really fascinated about is just this mindset that you can grow a business without marketing. But to do this, you need to be able to tell stories and make other people tell stories for you. And you just shared that great example of how you were just doing this great job of creating a great product and creating a great service that was making people want to tell and share and refer other people to it, etc. But how can my audience do that? How can the typical entrepreneur have other people tell stories about their product, their service, their business?
Jon: Ultimately, what you need to do is you need to figure out who is the key prospect you have and then who is their trusted advisor. And so for example, if you were selling sales and marketing solutions – let’s say, you’re a consultant or something, or you have a software product that helps people to do that. Rather than advertising about how great you are or how great your product is, you identify the influencers, the trusted advisors of those businesses that consult with them on sales and marketing, consulting, or products, and built relationships with them and told them stories about how they might become better, smarter, faster, and they started telling those stories to their customers, that would essentially introduce you to those customers.
And that’s essentially what we did with Nimble. So when we started Nimble there were no technology resellers selling cloud solutions, they were still selling on-premise solutions. And so what we had to do is find the influencer of those small businesses that would be their trusted advisors around the areas of promise of Nimble and those are our thought leaders and sales and marketing and social media. And we did is we built the Nimble brand and our brand by sharing their content and attributing hash tag in the category in their name.
And then what happened is people who are interested in being better, smarter, faster at social sales and marketing started to bite on that content and we started to reel them in to build relationships and they started to try our software. But also those influencers began to have conversations with us and we built the relationships with them and got them to use our product then they started telling our story and that basically is how we built the Nimble brand. So we essentially replicated the strategy of influencer marketing with GoldMine by building relationships with trusted advisors and getting that to help us build the Nimble brand today.
And any business today can replicate this by simply sharing the information that you already have in your head, that you already read every morning with your coffee, about how to be better, smarter, faster in your areas of promise or products and services. What you need to do is share that content on a daily basis. It’s not like people are gonna operate on themselves if you’re a doctor and you’re teaching them how to be healthier.
Think of Dr. Weil. Dr. Weil is an author. He wrote a book called the 28 days to optimal health and he now has a center in Arizona where he basically trains other doctors and other people on being healthy and he also started True Foods or True Food Kitchen and Flower Child, which are health food restaurants that are just killing it today. And all that because he built this brand by teaching other people how they can be better, smarter, faster.
So everybody who’s listening to this today knows more about their products and services, their industry, than anybody else that they’re selling to, give your knowledge away on a daily basis, use that as fishing lures to reel people in to start conversations, to build your brand, grow your network, and that then will make you top of mind when people are making buying decisions around your products and services.
John: Value bombs, Fire Nation, have been dropped. And guess what? It’s just the beginning. We’re gonna be dropping some more value bombs when we get back from thanking our sponsors. So, Jon, we’re back and something that I heard you say earlier that I kind of wanna revisit because I’m just curious, you used this funny little phrase, that’s why they call it Salesforce because they’re forcing sales. So specifically, are companies like Salesforce doing it wrong? And if so, what can we learn from that?
Jon: Because I helped invent CRM I know a thing or two about it. I think most people use their CRM as a contact tool. Essentially it’s a glorified contact manager that you log notes and calls and schedule tasks and follow-up actions. But the thing is is that what you really should be doing with your CRM is empowering your customer facing business team members to be more effective at engaging the customers with the tools they need to – in order for them to grow the business. And today salespeople have to spend 60 percent of their time googling people, looking up who they are, what their business is about, logging that in the CRM, and they have to go to the CRM to use it.
So most salespeople work for the CRM, it doesn’t work for them. They do all the work looking up people and company information, they have to log their emails and their calendar appointments, and they have to go to the CRM to use it. Imagine if there was a more nimble CRM that automagically worked for you by enriching people and company information, automatically logging your emails and your calendar activities, and then enabling you to work with that information wherever you are, in your email inbox which is where most people live, or in social media, or anywhere you’re at. And I think that’s the future of CRM and that’s why I got back in the marketplace in order to build something that works for you instead of you working for it.
John: Automagically, love these words, love these phrases, love this value. And, Jon, I think one thing that Fire Nation just maybe could get a lot of benefit from is we don’t know what we don’t know. So what are some glaring things that you’re seeing companies do wrong these days and you’re like oh, if I could just tweak A, B, and C with these companies they’d be so much better off? What are those very common mistakes?
Jon: Well, I think the common mistake that people make with a CRM is they buy it because everybody else does. They just think they should buy one and they’re not really thinking through the process of what they should be doing with a CRM. And a CRM’s just a database. It’s a database that you define what data you wanna put in to it and what data you wanna get out of it. So before you buy a CRM, think about why you’re buying it. What do you want out of it and what are you gonna put into it and what’s it gonna take to get stuff into it?
And I think the biggest cause of failure of CRM is lack of use or bad data. Lack of use is because you have to beat on people to use it and bad data, even if they actually used it and they typed data into the computer, that data is gonna decay so rapidly that it’s gonna be unusable. And so I think that most people’s CRM today is either Office 365, Gmail, or G Suite because there’s 225 million global businesses, less than 1 percent use any CRM. Most people’s CRM is their inbox or a spreadsheet and now more and more social media.
So I think that today what you should be thinking about is a contact platform for the whole company because ultimately it’s not just salespeople that sell, it’s not just prospects and customers that you need to touch. At Nimble we touch editors, analysts, bloggers, influencers, third party developers, investors, advisors, and prospects and customers, and everybody in the company is touching them. So what a business needs today is a unified relationship manager, a system of record of relationships that everybody in the company’s on one page and everybody can engage effectively together as a team because it’s teamwork that wins games.
And so I think that the first thing you do after buying a domain and setting up a website is you need to buy email contact and calendar, you’re gonna buy Office or G Suite or Gmail. And after that you need to put something on top of it that builds this relationship platform that enables everybody to work together and then you can think about the sales, marketing, and social media processes in order to nurture leads and engage people properly and measure the pipeline, etc. But I think you need to start with the basics because that’s what John Wooden said. It’s the basics that wins games and teamwork kills with culture.
John: Love all of that. And, Jon, in the pre-interview chat we were talking about some pretty exciting things that you have going on, specifically with Office 365. So why don’t we kind of end our chat today with you sharing with us the latest and greatest about that and then we’ll say goodbye.
Jon: What we did when we started GoldMine is we went after Novell resellers, which are the guys that sold the network to that small business. But what happened is Microsoft came out with a NT server or small business server, a sequel server and exchange server, which were basically tools that businesses need for databases and email. And what we did is we switched over to that as Microsoft started to scale in the marketplace and use that as our backend.
And what happened is our partners of ours, our resellers, made tons of products and services, revenue from that as they sold GoldMine with the Microsoft products, but more importantly, we became Microsoft No. 1 ISV and that’s what helped us to scale to $100 million. And today Microsoft’s doing the same thing to Gmail and G Suite. They basically waited until the market was big enough. They don’t innovate, they iterate. They wait for somebody else to build the market then they jump in with their platform and today they’re killing it with Office 365. There are 135 million Office users today, there’s about 5 to 6 million G Suite users. So that is the future platform on the marketplace.
And what we’re doing is we’re riding that by building a freemium add-in to Office 365 users that gives them insights on people and companies and then we’re selling them that relationship contact platform on top and then upselling them to the social sales and marketing system. And what we’re seeing is that Microsoft is starting to bring us into their resellers, into their end users. And they just signed a reseller agreement with Nimble where they’re going to resell Nimble with Office 365 through their resellers and they also are bundling Nimble with over 50 million Outlook users all because we built that pay it forward relationship with not just the product managers, but also with the executive staff as well as their resellers.
And basically we’re replicating the GoldMine strategy of partnering with the trusted advisors of our end users, the resellers, with the strategic partners like Microsoft and Google by adding value to their platform and helping to sell their products and services which then help sell ours.
John: Wow, I mean, Fire Nation, I hope you’re using this as a blueprint, as a microcosm of how you could potentially be growing your business or at least kind of mapping out the direction that you wanna go with these different partnerships and opportunities, of course always leading with value. Now, Jon, let’s end today on fire with you giving us, Fire Nation, a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you and your business, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Jon: You bet. If you wanna get a hold of me, google me. You know, if you can’t google yourself and find your identity and be able to connect with yourself if you’re another person, you’re in trouble today. And so google me, I’m easy, J-O-N, F-E-R-R-A-R-A. My twitter handle is the exact same thing with an underscore in the middle. And my email is Jon@nimble.com. Reach out to me, let me know how I can help you become better, smarter, faster because that is why we’re on this planet. We’re on this planet to grow our souls to help other people grow theirs, and that’s why I built software like GoldMine and Nimble to power you to your dreams. So let me know how I can help you grow.
And go sign up for Nimble at nimble.com. Anybody who signs up today, normally it’s a two week trial, we’re gonna give you 30 free days of Nimble. Just mention Entrepreneur on Fire to our team, we’ll extend your trial and good luck and good selling.
John: And parting piece of guidance. What do you wanna leave Fire Nation with?
Jon: I think that if you can simply focus on helping other people grow on this planet that you can get every single dream that you want in this world. And I know that’s how we built GoldMine, that’s how we’re building Nimble. So stop trying to sell, stop talking about your products and services, nobody cares. Start talking about how you can help other people become better, smarter, faster. If you do that every day, you could build a goldmine. I know, I did.
John: And I chuckle because it’s true, Fire Nation. Take those words to heart. And you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and today you’ve been hanging out with JF and JLD. So keep up the heat and head over to eofire.com, type Jon, J-O-N in the search bar. His show notes page is gonna pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about today. These are the best show notes in the biz, time stamps, links galore. And of course you can listen to Jon’s 246 episode, that was episode 246, on Entrepreneur on Fire where he talked about his journey and aha moment. So both episodes rocked the mic.
And of course email Jon directly, J-O-N@nimble.com. Say hello, thank you, ask him a question. I mean, he’s put it out there, take advantage of it if you have a question. And of course go to nimble.com, mention Entrepreneur on Fire, they’ll extend your free trial; they’ll double your free trial. So definitely make that happen. And, Jon, thank you, brother, for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
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