“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.
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.
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.
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
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.