Build Stronger Relationships with Nimble CRM

Featured Image“Traditional CRM doesn’t TELL you anything, YOU have to tell IT everything.” Jon Ferrara could not be more right, and his cloud-based Nimble CRM (Customer Relationship Management) goes a long way toward flipping this script. Some creatives may feel they don’t need to “sell” because they have representation such as agents, labels, publishers, studios doing that for them. But that game is changing, and regardless relationships are the key to success in a creative business. It’s who you know and who knows you. AND what they think of you.

Before we look at Nimble lets briefly review what creative entrepreneurs should be trying to achieve with a good relationship management system.

Keep a record of all your contacts. Sounds simple but most people don’t, and successful people do. At a minimum you should have a full and complete record of every client and prospective client. In addition, and depending on your industry, you should have a record of every agent, casting director, coach, director, game designer, industry executive, publisher, producer, studio head and everyone else that you have met, called, emailed, or written to. As you can see this is a very long list of people and even for someone starting out it is a lot of information to keep straight. Have a system. Yes you can use Gmail contacts or your phone’s address book or even index cards if that works for you. But post it notes and scraps of paper are not a system. Nimble costs $15 per month per user, which may be a deterrent to some creative entrepreneurs looking to keep costs as low as possible.

Have a complete single view of your contacts. In our social-media connected world it is not enough to have only a basic name, phone, e-mail, physical address, and type of business. You must also record addresses for websites, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Soundcloud, Vimeo, etc., etc. And much of the most interesting and current information is embedded in these multiple social media streams. You might also keep track of activities such as attending an audition, booking a gig, sending a demo reel, providing a headshot, and follow-up activities. In most cases this information is spread across multiple applications, data formats, and is of varying levels of quality. For example you may have basic contact info in your iPhone address book, activity data in e-mail on Outlook, events on a Calendar App, and multiple separate social streams. This is the promise (not often delivered) of CRM: to have one place where you can see all of a customer’s information.

Avoid contacts falling into the “black hole”. Every day opportunities pass us by because we fail to follow up on them. Someone gives us their card, but we never call.  Someone else friends us on Facebook, but we never message them. That e-mail of a friend of a friend gets lost. We have a good conversation with someone who might help our career, but then six months go by and that relationship has “died on the vine”. Have a way of triggering reminders to stay in touch, what is sometimes called a “tickler” system. Remember also that it is a small world and a long career. The bartender you meet today may be directing a feature film a few years from now.

Focus on the relationships that matter.  Keeping up with people takes precious time away from you practicing and perfecting your craft. It is often true that most of our relationships are with our peers, people like ourselves. Actors know other actors. Graphic designers know other graphic designers. And it can be tempting to spend most of your time interacting with your peers. But growing your business and career means spending 80% of your time interacting with the 20% of the people who can help you get work. Have a way of tracking these most important relationships and give them the attention they deserve. If you contact only three people a day you will have maintained contact with over 1,000 people each year. A more than large enough group to create and sustain success, if it is the right 1,000 people.

Choose an appropriate scale of software. Traditional CRM systems are sold and implemented for managers and executives and are seldom much help to individual sales people. And creative entrepreneurs, often soloprenuers, do not need these cumbersome systems. You can trust me on this, I founded one of the leading CRM consulting firms and helped large companies such as Schlumberger, Raytheon Aircraft, Birkenstock USA, Kraft Foods, McAfee, and Starbucks implement technology to improve their customer relationships.

Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara basically created modern sales force automation with his much beloved GoldMine software in the 1990s. He has created Nimble with the same focus on improving the productivity of the individual with easy to use tools driven by powerful and innovative features. Let’s look at two of these features Nimble Magnifier and Nimble Signals.

Nimble Magnifier

The worst part of any contact management system is the drudgery of entering all the data. Nimble solves this problem by allowing you to simply hover over a contact name on any website (social sites work best) and the software automagically imports (or updates) all the information for that contact into your Nimble database. Once it has profile information from one site, say Facebook, it shows similar profiles on other social networks, like Twitter and LinkedIn, and asks you if it is the same person. In almost no time at all you have a rich, robust customer contact record that would have taken so long to enter manually you probably wouldn’t have bothered. From this sidebar you can mark the contact as Important, activate a stay in touch reminder, add notes, tasks, deals, and much more. All without opening up a separate app or cutting or pasting anything!

In the following screenshot  I am on my Facebook profile page and the Nimble plug-in is the sidebar on the right. I hover the mouse pointer over the banner and Nimble pulls all of the available information into a new contact record. This works even if you are not yet friends with this person, although if you are friends you get more data loaded.
Untitled 4

Nimble then asks if other social profiles are the same person. It is not perfect and for a common name like “Brian Johnson” you may end up with unhelpful suggestions. In this case Nimble suggests the Twitter profile for Brian Johnson the lead singer of AC/DC, but in my experience it is uncanny how often the correct profile is present in the first 3-5 matches displayed.
Untitled 6

Nimble Signals

The Nimble desktop app delivers on the single view of the customer we discussed earlier. It brings together a contact’s basic profile information, e-mail interactions, previous and scheduled tasks/events, shared connections, and a unified social media stream into a single contextual history. This is incredibly valuable when you have not interacted with a contact for a period of time. You can slip into their social stream and find reasons to engage them on topics that are current and fresh to them (a recent award or project) and remind them of interactions you had in the past (an audition or job). This places your interaction into the context of your customer’s life without being intrusive.  Read more about this concept of “Social Selling” that here or here.

In the following screenshots  I am using the Nimble desktop app and reviewing the information of my business partner Angela Grayden. From this main contact screen you can easily add an activity (task, calendar event, touch), send a message (E-mail,Twitter, Facebook), add a note, create a “deal”, or attach a file (dropbox or google drive) without leaving the main page. You can also see the contacts social networks and a “Smart Summary”.
The tabs at the bottom of the main screen show an incredible wealth of information. The Pending and History Tab shows E-Mail messages, calendar events, tasks, notes and more. The Social Tab (displayed below)  shows the unified social media stream of the contacts activities. The Shared Connections Tab shows your relationship to this contact.
The Signals tab allows you to view and filter “social signals” such as retweets, likes, comments, new connections, birthdays, and job changes for all of your contacts or just those contacts you have marked “important”. These are all natural opportunities for engagement with the people who can help you grow your career. Nimble will also send you a daily summary showing you the most important signals you should act on each day. Also much, but certainly not all, of this contact information is available on your smartphone via the recently released Nimble Mobile App.
So to paraphrase and flip the statement made by Jon Ferrara at the beginning of this post: “Nimble CRM asks you to tell it very little, and then it tells you a great number of things you don’t already know.”

Just to review: we looked at how relationship management can help creative entrepreneurs, demonstrated how you can easily grab data from a social site using the Nimble CRM Plug-in, and how you can gaining insights from Nimble Signals.  Next week we will return to the topic of Is Your Information Safe In The Cloud? with Part 2: Information Privacy.

The Scorecard

Scorecard Large

Advertisements

How To Get Paid Faster with Wave (Part 2)

Post 3There are 3 laws of money: #1 It is better to have money than not to have money. #2 It is better to have more of it than less of it. #3 It is better to have it sooner rather than later. Wave Accounting can help creative entrepreneurs adhere to all three laws.

Last week we looked at Wave Invoicing which is essentially asking your client to pay you and how much, this week we look at Wave Payments which is where you actually get the money. We will look at 3 payment scenarios that are typical for creative entrepreneurs.

  1. Your client pays your invoice through Wave with a credit card.
  2. Your client pays your invoice through Paypal, another payment service, or send you a check.
  3. Your client buys something from you in person and pays with a credit card or cash.

The first scenario requires you to setup a payment account through Wave’s chosen credit card processor Stripe. Don’t worry, Wave makes it easy and secure to use this service. As with PayPal and other processors you will be charged a standard $0.30 per transaction and 2.9% of the invoice total for using their services.  Once you are setup, send your invoice through the desktop or mobile apps. Your client receives this via e-mail and clicks on the View and Pay Invoice button (you can also attach a .pdf to the e-mail if they prefer). Then they click the Pay Now button.

Window 1        Window 2

A screen pops up in their browser and the client enters their credit card information and clicks the Send Payment button. If your client doesn’t want to enter their credit card online, but is willing to give it to you over the phone, you can enter the information for them from within Wave.

Window 3

That’s it. Their payment appears in your bank account and your invoice is marked paid in Wave. You can opt to send a receipt to confirm their payment, but your work (most of which was done by your customer) is done.

In this second scenario you are going to receive payment through PayPal. Some clients may only want to pay you through PayPal, but that seems to be changing as Stripe, Square, Apple Pay and other services become better known. There is no option in Wave to use PayPal to send invoice and payments directly, however there is an easy workaround. Wave allows you to disable payments for a specific invoice, so in the case of a client that will only pay via PayPal you must do the following. When you create your invoice make sure the Disable Credit Card Payments checkbox is checked and add a Memo that tells the client to send their PayPal payment to your PayPal e-mail and maybe include the http://www.paypal.com link as well.

Window 6

When the client gets your invoice e-mail they must login to their PayPal account enter your e-mail, the amount, and your reference and click the Send button. The money will be transferred to your PayPal account. Yea!

Window 5

Unlike with Wave’s built in credit card processing which automatically records the payment against your invoice, you will need to manually record that the invoice as paid. This is also how you would manually record any invoice payments made by check.

Window 4

Wave also allows you to link (read-only) to your PayPal account in the same way you do your Bank accounts, so these transactions will then be downloaded to Wave automatically. Unfortunately you will still have to manually mark each invoice as paid.

In scenario three you will be selling something in person, maybe books at a book signing, autographs at a comic convention, or t-shirts at one of your concerts. This is where the Wave Payments mobile app shines.

First you must download the Payments by Wave app from the Apple App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android and link it to your Wave login and password. Please note that the same $0.30 and 2.9% of the invoice total fees apply to these transactions. Now open Payments and select (or take) a picture of what you are selling, enter the amount before tax and a description. You can enable an existing tax or setup a new tax in the main menu. You can also record the location via GPS.

IMG_0975

For a cash transaction click the $ icon or for a credit card choose the Card icon. In the credit card screen you can enter the credit card type, number, and expiration date. You can also take a picture of the card to automatically fill in these fields (the picture is not saved for obvious security reasons). When you click the Authorize button you have the option of capturing the customers signature. Once the card is authorized it will be recorded in the transactions menu. For both cash or credit transactions you have the option of sending a nicely formatted receipt to their e-mail address.

IMG_0977     IMG_0979

Important Note: You will not see your payment immediately. Stripe will deposit your funds in your account within 7 days. Some credit card processors require you to deposit a cash reserve to protect them against fraud. While Stripe doesn’t require a cash reserve, they do hold onto your money until it clears (PayPal may hold it for 21 days for some sellers). Although this is a violation of Money Law #3 (but in keeping with Laws #1 and #2), I still prefer the Stripe way, but your mileage may vary.

Just to review: we enabled Payments by Wave and looked at three scenarios for receiving payment from your customers. Wave Accounting has many more features for reporting, budgeting, payroll, tracking receipts, and much more. But I think you will agree we have seen enough for now. Tune in next week for a Non-Accounting post of Good Cloud, Bad Cloud: The Best and Worst Cloud-Based Apps for Creative Entreprenuers.

The Scorecard:

Post 4 Scorecard

How To Get Paid Faster with Wave (Part 1)

Post 3Wave is a free cloud-based app for accounting and is ideally suited for the creative entrepreneur. The desktop app beautifully integrates to your existing bank account (read-only ala Mint), is simple to use, powerful in its features, and hits a home run with its mobile apps.

If you didn’t already flee at seeing the word accounting, hang in there because what that word really means is getting paid for your work and  keeping a bit more of that in your pocket. I know lots of artists don’t want to care about money.  But the age of the wealthy patron or the impoverished artist/genius are over and we live instead in the age of the marketplace.

To get paid faster you first need to invoice your client. To create an invoice in Wave just go to http://www.waveapps.com, choose sign-up, and enter your name, e-mail, and password. You can create your invoice in less than 2 minutes in three easy steps.

Step 1: Click on Create Invoice. Since it is your first invoice you will be prompted to upload a company logo, enter your business address, and click Save.

Wave Invoice Step 1

Step 2: In the next screen enter your client information. Enter your product, description, units, price, tax (if any). Any clients and products you create here will be available when you create your next invoice. Click Save and View.

Wave Invoice Step 2

Step 3: Review your invoice in this screen and then click Send to e-mail or print your invoice.

Wave Invoice Step 3

Easy right? Well here is where it gets really good. Instead of booting up your laptop you can do all of this with Wave’s mobile invoice app (available for iOS and Android devices). This is great for when you are on the go. Just finished a recording session? Send your invoice. Just finished a shoot? Send your invoice. Client claims they never go it? Resend your invoice. The sooner you send it the faster you will get paid.

Step 4: Install the app on your smartphone or tablet and open the app. The first screenshot is the invoice we just created. Click on it to show/edit details of the invoice. You can also create a new invoice on your mobile device just as easily as you did on your desktop.

IMG_0967   IMG_0968

Step 5: Follow up on your invoices by choosing to set a reminder when creating or editing an invoice. You can set it for a specific date or for 7 or 14 days after the due date.  You can also enable Notifications in the mobile app to see which invoices have been viewed, paid, or are overdue and take action. Using both of these methods allows you to follow up on past due items with your client and get paid faster.

Invoice Reminder

Just to review: we signed up for Wave, created an invoice, sent it to our client, viewed/edited it on our smartphone, and got notifications on all our invoices. And you thought accounting was hard! Next week we will examine the next step in getting paid faster with Wave Payments. 

The Scorecard

Post 3 Scorecard