In my first year in business as a fledgling CRM consultant in 1998, I attended a Goldmine conference and came away impressed with the product and company. At the time, Goldmine was one of the top contact manager solutions, although the company introduced versions that could support a sales team as well.
The design point was much like ACT! — another popular contact management solution — designed for the individual user first, and management second. Users loved it, but over the years the company was sold, the founders left, and the company got swallowed up in the CRM industry abyss.
To make a long story short, one of the co-founders Jon Ferrara “retired” from the industry for quite a few years, spent time with his family and watched the CRM/SFA industry continue to pump out solutions designed for sales managers. Meanwhile, the cloud computing and “social customer” movements sparked some ideas. In 2009, Jon got back into the game and introduced Nimble as one of the early “social CRM” solutions.
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I’ve kept up with Jon and Nimble from time to time, and liked what I saw. Nimble is designed to help reps (or any business professional managing opportunities) to keep track of contacts, tasks, and deals. Just like the good old days of Goldmine, updated for the cloud.
Except now our “contacts” don’t just use email and phone. They have profiles on LinkedIn, post on Twitter and share on Facebook. Any “relationship management” system has to accommodate these new channels, and Nimble does so adroitly.
One of my biggest social media headaches is going to several different places to keep up with conversations. With Nimble, it’s all integrated. You can use whatever method you like, or a combination, to keep up with someone and reach out to nurture a relationship.
I took Nimble for a test drive the past couple of weeks, and for the first time in nearly 15 years I can say I found a solution I might actually use personally. Nimble is an excellent integration of “social” and “CRM” and I really enjoyed the experience.
Recent Nimble 3.0 enhancements include a new start page (a kind of dashboard), top 3 prospects (mined somehow from your contacts), a new social signals capability (what’s worth paying attention to), and apps. Here’s a screen shot from the Nimble web site:
Will I use Nimble? Not yet, because the email functionality is limited. I can’t organize messages via folders (Outlook) or labels (Google). But keep in mind that I’m not the typical rep or business owner that Nimble is targeted for. As owner/operator of CustomerThink.com, I get hundreds of emails every day, and have to manage them with hyper efficiency. So far I haven’t found any web-based solution as fast as Outlook.
Good news: Nimble is listening to customer input and I suspect email will be improved before long. When it is, I’ll take another look.
I don’t review many products and don’t endorse vendors. I’m not endorsing Nimble here. (For the record, Nimble is not a CustomerThink advertiser, sponsor or client.) But I do think the CRM industry needs more solutions designed for users, and wanted to compliment Jon and his team for a great job with Nimble. If you’re struggling to incorporate social into selling, it’s worth a look.