Category Archives: Marketing Automation

This is all about Marketing Automation

Relationships are the most important aspect of CRM Software

CRM Software is all about Relationships!

One of the oldest business adages in the book is that the customer is king. The focus on the customer is for important reasons. They are the engine that propels any company forward. Without interest from customers, the whole business falls apart. In this article, we wanted to explore several facets of CRM Software today which ultimately should help establish and maintain excellent relationships with your customers (particularly repeat customers).

The Many Flavors of CRM Today

Since 1997, I have been working with Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM). Today, the use of customer relationship management software has become even more popular as more businesses realize the usefulness of these tools to develop relationships. There are various flavors and terminology to describe CRM. For example, Social CRM led by Nimble CRM, full featured CRM for Mid to Large Organizations like Pipeliner CRM, & Customer Support Software  from firms like Zendesk are all considered customer management tools.

The Core of CRM 

But, at the heart of all of CRM options should be one basic element. And, that is developing and maintaining relationships with people! Primarily, what CRM should do is allow for businesses to create relationships, nurture them, and help their customers grow. The basic features of CRM should keep track of the interactions throughout all phases of a customers journey with your firm. It stores all of the data about those interactions and helps you to better understand the relationships that you have with your customers. In essence, contact management should begin with a single view of the past, present, and future of your interactions with your contacts.

Social Media

Beyond the basics, Social Media has required CRM to adjust and adapt a bit in recent years. As a result, Interactions with customers via social media platforms is another area for CRM software which enhances relationships. The multitude of social media platforms that are available these days may make it difficult in some respects to track every interaction with customers, but systems like Nimble CRM do help make this process easier. Interacting with customers on social media is now considered the proper way for business to use this medium, so why not log what happens with those interactions? Today, keeping track of a persons digital interactions and “social listening” to your clients before and after they buy is all capable with CRM Software. Here are a few real life scenarios:

  • A Customer Advocate representative looks up a client on LinkedIn while staying right in their web browser session, looks up their respective contact information, calls them, notices that they have been working at the firm a short while, just had a birthday (turned 45, so sad), and then begin to take copious notes on a phone call interaction about a new product inquiry to pass over to sales. They then send out an email to thank them for their time and provide the future client advocate details on your flashy new product. All of this can be done while staying on one screen! Wow!
  • Another example would be recording and viewing the types of products that a particular customer has ordered in this past. And, knowing by looking at their Social Streams that they are asking for advice on twitter about similar products you provide. You engage with them online while working in your CRM tool and connect real-time to address their concerns. You are able to solve their issues in real-time! Wow!

Certainly, this is helpful for sales and marketing opportunities, but also helps with customer service as well. The possibilities are exciting!

Predictive Marketing

As was alluded to above, Customer Relationship Management software can help with marketing as well. Some businesses have automated the process of marketing to customers entirely based on the previous experience they have had with those customers. What does this mean? Simply that the businesses allow for their software programs to tell them what the most likely next purchase is for any given customer. The programs choose this based on the data logged about that customer already.

For organizations that want to go beyond CRM and Email Marketing, you may add in marketing automation software like ACT-On or HubSpot . This additional functions will allow you to be able to enhance your capabilities even further. Rather than trying to guess what a customer may want to purchase next, these software programs allow for the possibility of predictive marketing and progressive profiling that can take the guesswork out of marketing efforts for you.

There are so many ways to use CRM today. And, these are just a few ways in which CRM may play a role in your business today.

Are there other areas you use CRM Software for today? Let us know below. Until then, please keep SmartThoughts in mind.

If you are interested, below you will find an interview with Jon Ferrara of Nimble CRM, a leader in Social CRM today.


Nimble CRM is Social Selling at it's finest

Being Nimble in a Social Selling World

Since 1997, I have been involved as a software adviser and advocate for Customer Relationship Management Software solutions. To be sure, the aspirations of many Sales Executives were realized when they first came on the scene. Integration with Outlook, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA’s like the Treo, remember that one?), marketing, mobile synchronization, and sales forecasting were the drivers for demand back in the day.

Suffice it to say, CRM software is required to do different things now as a result of the recent paradigm shift in selling and marketing in the 21st Century. At SmartThoughts, we are constantly searching for software tools which can help facilitate the development of stronger and more impactful business relationships. And, that’s why we wanted to share some thoughts on an innovative software tool available now called Nimble CRM which shines among very few peers leading in this area today.

If you are not familiar with Nimble CRM, you should be. As the Nimble tag line suggests, “With Nimble, Building Business Relationships Has Never Been Easier” .  Social Selling is paramount in order to be found and to find new opportunities. Social Selling is not just the wave of the future, it’s a necessity for businesses to remain relevant. Sales advisers need tools like Nimble to remain viable.

What is Nimble CRM?

Nimble is the only solution to offer small businesses the best features of high-end CRM systems combined with the power of social media. Nimble CRM is used by small organization to handle the basic tenets of CRM but shines in helping define the right leads and improve relationships with future & existing advocates.

What do we like most about Nimble CRM?

  • Smart Contacts Widget: From your browser (in LinkedIn, Gmail, etc.) you are able to simply right-click a name to “Nimble” it and you’ll be prompted to find out more about them.
Nimble CRM is the leader in small business social selling software.

Nimble the person and you can take those 12 tabs of research down to just one.

  • Social Signals: On a contact or account, easily view all the social activity streams in one view.
  • Engagement: Nimble you can view and filter your social signals such as birthdays, job changes, and new connections to leverage these signals as engagement opportunities and start reaching out!
  • Rapportive:  With Nimble, your contacts now follow you into your most-used app, Gmail, with a new plug-in. When you are reading an email from a Nimble contact – or hover your mouse over an email address in a thread – the contact details appear in the Rapportive widget. If the contact isn’t in Nimble, you can easily import him with the click of a button.

Yes, Nimble is now joining the ranks of Google, Facebook and other companies who have become their own verb. Way to go Nimble!

Certainly, like all software, Nimble is a work in progress. It will never be completely done or complete. That noted, it would be great to have better reporting capabilities for activities and opportunities. In addition, it would be better if Nimble handled account and contact linking better. In other words, when you desire to have common data fields such as revenue which is present on both the account and contact records which are updated when either is changed.

However, in this day of “Social Selling”, Nimble excels beyond expectations. And, if needed Nimble can do even more.  Through Nimble’s API it can be integrated into systems like, Marketing Automation platforms like ACT-On, ERP systems like Netsuite, or potentially WealthEngine for development officers to gain insights into not only “Social Activity” of donors with Nimble but also donor giving history and capabilities (Awesome!).

Truly, it’s an exciting time to be a sales adviser, donor development officer, or business with tools like Nimble to help build stronger relationships.

If you would like to learn more, I am a contributing author on TrustRadius. And, you may find a full review by clicking My review of Nimble CRM on TrustRadius here. Or, sign up for a “Free” Nimble Software trial today by clicking here.

I will be reviewing more CRM, Social CRM, and Marketing Automation Software solutions soon!

Hunters are old school

Sales Missionary for Hire!


In the course of discussions with several small to mid size businesses clients on sales strategy, there seems to be a lot of uncertainty about what type of personality an organization should hire today for sales. In this article, I wanted to explore the general terms used in describing selling mentalities and how semantics and terminology used inappropriately may set the tone for the sales and marketing persona at your organization.

More specifically, I have heard several repeated questions which I wanted to highlight below:

“My sales people aren’t finding new accounts”. “Who should we hire today?” “Can you help us train our team to be more like hunters rather than farmers?”

If you have been around the sales and marketing profession for a while, you have no doubt seen these terms for addressing the type of personality profile needed for a particular sales job. If not, I have described both below:

  • The Hunter is the person who gets their sales energy off of the “hunt” for the new opportunity. They are independent. They can come in very quickly into an environment generate buzz and excitement. They can close the deal. Ex. Title: Account Executive.
  • The Farmer is the sales person who builds and cultivates relationships and opportunities, typically within existing accounts. Historically speaking,  they are not always good at prospecting. Ex Title. Customer Service Rep.

Suffice it to say, I despise the reference to a sales person being referred to as a  “Hunter”. Why? In my mind, it implies that the person charged with a respective sales job is out to “Kill” the prey, eat them, spit them out and then leave them for dead.

In this day and age of social media sites and information chaos, can you imagine a future customer advocate seeing this on your “Linkedin” profile page? Or, even worse seeing this on the company career section of your website? In fact, even more far reaching I believe that the term “Hunter” when used in the social selling environment today may actually turn off your potential buyers if seen in various social media outlets.

In today’s buyers market led environment, where the buyer has taken control of the sales cycle, I believe organizations should consider hiring someone who is a “Missionary Evangelist” rather than a “Hunter”.

I have defined how this applies in the context of sales below:

  • The Missionary is a member of a organization who works tirelessly to convert by education and purpose. In fact, those people who come into contact with the Missionary who do not share the Missionary’s belief (CRM, Marketing Automation, ERP Software, Cloud) is the primary target of the Missionary. We need an Evangelist to convert people to a particular product or brand (ACT-ON vs. Eloqua, vs. Nimble CRM) based on the beliefs, knowledge, and merits of the service/solution provided by the respective organization.

The combined terms, Missionary Evangelist, represent the type of person I believe is necessary in the art of attracting new business today. In other words, your organization requires someone today who embodies some of the following traits:

  • Caring: You need someone who cares, bottom line.
  • Passionate: You need someone who will go to great lengths with passion in order to find those he or she can help.
  • Intelligent: You need someone who knows his or her stuff with regards to your product or service. At the right time, buyers want to be delighted by what you have to offer them.
  • Listener: You need someone who will take the time to listen and provide an empathetic and caring ear.
  • Communicator: You need someone who can go the mountain, so to speak, and communicate your message eloquently. This needs to be verbal and writing abilities. 

To be sure, I get the Hunter analogy. I have heard it countless times over the last two decades involved in sales and marketing. In years past, it may have been fine.  And, with profitability on the minds of every business owner, you want and need to be able find new business. It’s basic economics. However, in order to be successful today, we need to be mindful of the message we are sending to our audience  of advocates. Your buyers are more sophisticated than ever before and have information at their finger tips.

As a small midsize business owner, you have to face the facts today. The role of the professional sales person has changed. Sales and Marketing must co-exist with one another. Smarketing reigns (or whatever you call the combined enterprise of sales and marketing). Frankly speaking, today more than ever it’s Marketing’s role  to attract, educate, and move the buyers down the funnel.The Sales person’s role is to piggy back on top of the marketings education and awareness campaign to sort through the options. And, once the buyer is ready, have your Missionary, Evangelize your offering relentlessly with passion and conviction.

The term “Hunting” in the traditional sense is an “old school” way of thinking which needs to be changed in light of the new methodology of #SocialSelling and #MarketingAutomation.

You must demand and require that your organization find opportunities. But, the method and manner of doing this has changed dramatically.

With that, we must kill the “Hunter” analogy. You can begin by changing the reference in your inner circle which will begin to set a tone in your sales and marketing culture today.

Indeed, we all want to hire good people. But, you need to hire people who truly care about what you provide, can walk the talk, and have a burning desire to “help” others.

If you get that person (s) your first mission has been accomplished! Praise the Lord.


The key is being different in sales.


Are you using Video Email Marketing?

It seems like at every turn you run into videos.  There are funny videos, informational videos, conference showcase videos and blog videos now.  And, the plethora of video in marketing and on the web is for a very good reason, they work!

Just consider the following statistics:

  • 84.4% of the U.S. Internet audience viewed a video online, according to a study done by comScore in January 2012.
  • The duration of the average online content video was 6.1 minutes, while the average online video ad was 0.4 minutes.
  • Video ads accounted for 12.2 percent of all videos viewed and 0.9 percent of all minutes spent viewing video online.
  • An optimized video increases the chance of your brand being on the front page of a Google search engine result by 53 times!

So, back to the question. Are you using Video Email Marketing today? The answer is probably not. However, you would logically think that using video in email marketing would be common place, wouldn’t you? But, it’s not. In fact, it is relatively new. With that said, we believe it’s worth exploring now and implementing as part of your sales and marketing efforts.

Here are several examples of how video email marketing may work for you:

For Profit Business: 

  • Be Different: Nudge, nurture, & convert new leads
  • Share: Share updates & ideas with active clients
  • Top of Mind: Stay in front of past clients over time
  • Personalized Marketing: Market your new software updates or share a new service you have
  • Referrals: Referrals, & just saying thanks for referrals
  • Management: Recruit, train, motivate, & congratulate employees

Not for Profit Organization: 

  • Newsletters: Send weekly newsletters & updates
  • Devotionals: Send mid-week devotionals
  • Greeting Cards: Send holiday & special occasion greetings
  • Attendees: Follow up with new attendees
  • New Member: Welcome new members
  • Events: Send event invitations & reminders
  • Target: Send targeted messages to specific groups
  • Mission Updates: Share updates on missions, projects, & goals

Once you begin to utilize this new medium option, you will be amazed at how many different impactful this type of tool can have in your business or nonprofit.

Currently, BombBomb is the leader in this space. And, we are a proud affiliate of this awesome software tool. So, if you are interested in learning more ways you may utilize video email, please contact us or sign up for a free trial now by clicking here. 





Digital Body Language

The Key to Understanding Digital Body Language

It has long been believed that applying warning labels to packages of cigarettes would help curb the desire for that product. As the world began to understand more and more about the health risks of cigarettes, it was generally agreed upon that we should strive to get people to stop smoking this product. What no one at the time expected was that the psychology of buying this product might be forever changed, and not in the way we had hoped.

Warning Labels Increase Smoking Desire

The exact opposite impact of warning labels on cigarettes has been felt. A study conducted by scientists at Tel Aviv University concluded that warnings labels have actually helped to promote trust in the product. This was a quote from the website about this paradox,

“We showed that warnings may immediately increase concern and decrease consumption,” said Steinhart. “But over time, they paradoxically promote trust in a product and consequently lead to more positive product evaluation and more actual purchases.”

What This Means

Just because this study found what it did about cigarettes does not mean it applies to every product. It does however show us that there are important factors to consider when marketing a product. Sometimes, things that you may not have considered can weigh on the minds of consumers and perhaps encourage them to buy when they might not have otherwise.

Over the past several years, the buying cycle for products and services has moved to online. The evolution of Web 2.0 environment with its easy access to competitive product information and peer feedback has transformed how you should be marketing your products and services. Salespeople get less face time with clients. Buyers are more educated and have greater leverage in the negotiation process.

When making a buying decision there are any number of factors that go through a customer’s mind. They are not necessarily making their selection only based only on price, but they will obviously consider this as one of the many factors that they have to weigh before making a purchase.

You have to incorporate a strategy for understanding digital body language and the psychology of buying into your inbound marketing process.

Businesses that cannot track and analyze the behavior of their top prospects are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage going forward. The question is not whether you need to consider investing in technology to help in this effort but whether it can afford not to make the change.

As Jill Konrath, Author of Selling to Big Companies, states that “Information is the price of admission in today’s hyper-competitive market. It is simply too hard to get in the door now without good data on your clients.”

Keep this in mind and look to see what kind of things encourage your buyers to buy more. The content and words you use are important. For example, when selling to the nonprofit industry, you may want to use softer words to describe the same result of increasing revenue. In other words, instead of improving sales, you should be talking the nomenclature pertinent to your audience like donations. 

Contact us if you would like to know more about the software automation tools and strategy you need to understand the psychology of your potential customers  and how to best be found and find them in the digital world today.