CRM’s for the Real World

Over the years of sales consulting with companies of all sizes (many ironically in IT), I’ve seen some darn ugly CRM databases.

Back in the first days of this blog I compared these databases to a 2-year-old’s bedroom (in fact I should have said a 4-year-old’s bedroom I believe having now passed through that milestone for real).

Being an atypical sales dude (a self-described sales geek in fact) I have always been rather type A about keeping my own CRM databases spanky clean. This has resulted in an incredible amount of ctrl-c/ctrl-v actions on my keyboard that have worn down several keyboards and probably set me on the way to carpal tunnel.

Well, finally there are some new-fangled CRM’s that seek to address the lousy-data-in-the-database problem and the too-much-typing problem. I thought I’d start sharing my thoughts and experiences with the ones I’ve been allowed to play with so far.

The first one to tell you about is one I’ve been playing with for the last two weeks and I have to say I am quite enjoying the experience. It’s called Nimble.

One of the best things about Nimble is that it’s designed with the typical lazy sales dude in mind. (OK, I know you’re not lazy but you hate typing into your CRM – fess up dude!)

A key feature with Nimble is that when you enter a new contact in to its database it does a nice job of going out to Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook and pulling down all the profiles for that person from these social networks (I’ll cover other tools that do this too in future posts) – with minimal typing involved for you.

Once you set up a contact there’s a nice display of all the communication you’ve had with them right on their contact record: email, Linkedin, Tweets and FB updates. This will be increasingly helpful as people choose which “channel” to communicate on and communication gets more-and-more fragmented.

You can also see all your inbound communication in one place: all your email, all the Tweets featuring you, all your Linkedin messages and invites. This makes a lot of sense but I found in my testing so far that there is something about the user interface here that needs some refining. I’ve found myself dropping back to my Gmail inbox most of the time to see my emails.

The final tab on Nimble shows you all the activity from all your contacts and that seems quite promising too but right now I’ve been too busy cleaning up all my contacts to really get value out of this area.

What I have gotten great value out of is Nimble slapping me in the face and reminding me of who I am connected to on Linkedin that I don’t really know and should either get-to-know or disconnect. I’m amazed by all the people that are dead-ends in my Linkedin network and now I am actively working on that. I suspect there’s a huge ROI just in this lucky side effect of using Nimble.

I’ve spoken to Nimble about their plans and it seems there are going to be lots of add-on modules down the road that will provide additional functionality to what is currently a fairly stripped-down CRM. For example, right now there’s no reporting or opportunity management but that stuff will probably come soon. I’ve found myself keeping my Zoho running for that “old fashioned CRM stuff”.

I’ll be talking soon about other tools that take this kind of “real world” approach to CRM (“Social CRM” is the hot jargon) so please do let me know about your favorites (or the one your uncle is selling). I am a natural geek so playing with these things is more fun for me than tidying up my six year olds’ bedroom.

4 Responses to CRM’s for the Real World

  1. Marvin Morrison January 10, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    For the last eight years I have worked in inside sales for a facilities services company using salesforce.com as the CRM. The company I worked for was a $75 million a year company purchased a couple of years ago by a $4 billion a year company. Last week I came to work for a small office furniture company which is a $1-2 million a year company. I have been directed to prepare a strategy using CRM to expand the business. Do you still recommend Nimble? What are your thoughts on salesforce.com or other CRMs?

    • Nigel Edelshain January 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

      Marvin,

      I find Nimble excellent for maintaining my Rolodex of people I actually know. It’s has a great personal feel to the information you see, bringing up everyone’s social information in an easy-to-understand and appealing way.

      For team environments Nimble is still maturing so for a company-wide deployment you may well want to take a look at more traditional CRM’s like Salesforce.com (or Zoho which is similar but cheaper). Interestingly AFTER I wrote this post I went to Salesforce’s Cloudforce conference in NY and saw they have added social profiles to Salesforce that look much like Nimble but access to some of these costs extra.

      I’d say take a look at both Nimble and Salesforce.com (or Zoho) in a trial mode for your situation and see what you think.

      Nigel

      • Amos Benning November 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

        You might want to take a look at GreenRope

  2. Marvin Morrison January 12, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Thanks Nigel. I appreciate your input.

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