All posts by John Paul Narowski

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Announcing Engagement Tracking

Today marks a major milestone in our history. Our primary goal here at karmaCRM is to help you nurture personal relationships at scale, and we’ve just released a big step in that direction – engagement tracking!

This was the #2 requested feature in our most recent relationship survey. Thank you for helping us define what this feature should look like!

If you’re on the per user plan, this feature is available to you now.

What is engagement tracking?

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Engagement tracking will help you answer questions like: “When did I last talk to them,” “Who haven’t I talked with at all,” and more. Now karmaCRM automatically tracks both the last engagement with a contact and the number of times you’ve engaged.

What is tracked?

Anytime you log a phone call, send an email, or complete an event with your contact, the engagement count and date will be automatically updated.

Sorting and filtering by engagement

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The new engagement columns can be added to your list, sorted, and filtered. This makes it easy to see who you haven’t connected with and who you’ve spoken with most recently.

Where is this going?

This is just the first feature of a series designed to help you know who to contact and when. As we develop more features around engagement, we’ll be able to suggest contacts you should reach out to. That way you can spend your time growing relationships instead of fishing in your CRM for the next bite.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Announcing Email Reply Tracking

Hello folks! Today, we’re proud to announce another exciting feature, driven by your survey feedback. Tonight we’ll be releasing email reply tracking for all per user pro plans. This was the #1 requested feature from our most recent email automation survey.

So what does this feature do?

Reply tracking

Now every email you send comes with reply tracking. If your contact replies to an email, you’ll see in history the date they replied. Soon, this will be factored into our reporting, so you can see how effective you are at getting replies and who your most engaged contacts are.

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Reply reminders

Ever send an email and wonder days later, did they ever respond? Those days are over. Now with the reply reminder feature, you can set a reply reminder.

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If your contact doesn’t reply within the reminder window (EG: 5 days), then karma will create a task for you that tells you your email wasn’t responded to.

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More goodies coming soon!

We have other goodies coming this quarter too, like email automation, bulk task creation and more. Keep up the stellar feedback. We’re listening … closely.

I’m personally honored to have such an engaged user base. It’s clear you really care about making karmaCRM the best it can be. Here at karmaCRM we’re deeply committed to being customer driven.

No survey response or suggestion will go unnoticed!

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Work Softer, Not Harder

I’ve always had a problem with the phrase “work smarter, not harder” and I didn’t know why. Sure, I agree with the premise – who doesn’t want to work smarter?

I’ve done my best to work smarter and to encourage the idea within my companies. The problem is, I never fully connected with this concept. It’s possible that I resisted it because it’s a cliche, but I think it’s much deeper than that.

The phrase “work smarter” doesn’t provide enough clarity on the underlying philosophy. It seems a bit empty.

It needs a little more intuition, more voice, more gut.

What if we changed the phrase from “work smarter”  to “work softer”?

How does that land for you? What images come to mind?

Take a minute to ponder. Give yourself a little space. I promise I’m not going anywhere, and that never-ending to-do list isn’t either.

OK, now that you’ve formulated an idea of what this means to you, let’s dive in.

What “work softer” means

This inspiration came from a poem I read recently: “Fire” by Judy Brown.

Here’s my favorite passage:

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

While building my businesses over the years, I’ve packed as much wood into the fire as possible. With all the brute force and willpower I could muster (and a shit-ton of coffee), I’ve barely managed to singe the edges. There have been a few brief flickers of flame here and there, but that only prompts me to shove more wood onto the suffocating pile of sticks.

There has to be another way.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire grows
simply because the space is there

Wait, you’re telling me less is more? That fire grows on it’s own without my dominant superpowers?

Working softer means giving your fire room to breathe.

It means …

Giving yourself time to sit with ideas instead of acting immediately
Giving yourself permission encourage creativity
Giving yourself space to listen internally to the softer voices

I realized that most of my decisions, my leadership style, and my personal life were governed by a willpower-heavy “stick-packing” approach. I’ve come to realize (in my cold, fireless room) that willpower is only a small piece of the puzzle.

I’ve known deep down (enough to journal about this a billion different ways over the years) that the missing piece was giving myself permission to work softer. To explore creativity, to learn new things, and to approach problems in my business with the space it needed.

It doesn’t just apply to work

Part of working softer means exploring your own creativity and creating your own space. I believe that “work hard, play hard” makes Jack a dull boy.

What do you mean by creating space?

I mean not jamming your day from start to finish with action items. I mean taking breaks throughout the day to walk, to think, to breathe. I mean mono-tasking and closing your applications, so you can be present with the task at hand. Enjoy the taste of your food at lunch, look people in the eyes.

When I give myself permission to create space, I thrive. In the past, reading poetry and growing a business have seemed innately at odds. I’ll do that stuff when I’m successful, when things settle down … THEN I’ll learn piano and figure out how to be happy.

Who’s said that before … Anyone? Anyone? I’m guessing we all have.

Working softer also means doing those things now, integrating them into your life and into your work. Not work-life balance, but work-life harmony. I’m finding that the more I read, the more I write, think, and explore, the more I see the invisible lines that connect the dots in my business.

It becomes more effortless, and the fire grows on it’s own when you give it space.

Woah.

You mean I don’t have to work 20 hrs a day, forcing my business forward with the strength of a thousand Thors?

Nope.

Give it a try

Give this post a chance to sink in. It’s not a get-rich-quick tactic you can apply and 20x your growth overnight. It’s a philosophy that requires a lot of smaller decisions to bring to life.

I am at the beginning of embracing this concept, but I’m ecstatic for the journey.

Go for a run, actively listen to a song, read some poetry, dance. Do something to let yourself fly today, and bring that energy back into your job.

Work softer. Give yourself permission to cultivate creativity and space in your life and see what happens to your business, to your leadership, and – most importantly – to your happiness.  

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

How Giving Helps You Sell More

Take a minute to imagine a “salesperson.” If you’re anything like me, you imagined a used car salesman in a tweed suit jacket or a smooth-talking, cologne-soaked peddler of mysterious tonics. These images typically come along with the perception of pushy, deceitful individuals, working in their own self-interest to close more deals. In short, takers.

Now imagine what would happen if we flipped the script. If salespeople were known as givers instead of takers. Contrary to what some people might think, the more you give the more you get.

First, let’s define what we mean to give in sales.

What does giving mean in sales?

Giving means focusing on the customer, not on yourself. Instead of thinking about how to best sell your prospects, think about how you can add value and improve their life. This requires getting to know your prospects beyond the scope of your product or service. Find out what else they’re struggling with and how you might be able to help.

Sound difficult? You’d be surprised what you can find out about people just by asking. Once you widen the scope of the conversation from “How can I sell?” to “How can I help?” it opens the door to so many more questions.

  • Who are you looking to meet right now?
  • How are you getting adjusted to your new town?
  • What’s the biggest challenge in your life?

Why give in sales?

Giving builds trust

The immediate benefit of thinking about your prospect’s needs first is that it builds trust. Trust is the backbone of any good relationship, and it comes free when you give freely.

The prospect in any sales relationship typically comes with a healthy dose of skepticism. Is this product right for me? Is this salesperson looking out for my best interests? Etc.

When you focus on giving, you prove that your motivation goes beyond your prospect’s checkbook. It shows them that you can be trusted. I’ve even gone so far as to suggest a competitor’s product or service if it’s the best fit. Then, if you recommend your product, they know it’s because you genuinely want to help them. This goes a LOOOOONG way in closing a sale.

I’m sure all you salespeople out there have experienced this. You KNOW your product will save your prospects time | money | energy, etc., and that it’s a fantastic fit. But they still question it. You can’t explain enough how confident you are that your product will help them. But they’re still skeptical.

Your prospects doubt your motivation because you haven’t earned their trust.

Giving builds reciprocity

The more you help people, the more they want to help you. It’s just human nature.

I have people in my network who’ve introduced me to hundreds of people, without ever asking for my business. As a result, I’m passionate about helping them and I refer business to them every chance I get (and feel great about it). I do this because 1) they’ve helped me so much and 2) because I know they won’t hard sell anyone I introduce.

Giving injects you into the conversation

If you’re making an introduction between people in your network, you bet they’re going to chat about how they know you. If you’ve made a positive impact, you bet they’ll chat about that too. This will make them see you more positively, and it will build goodwill. Goodwill helps people like and trust you more, which in turn helps you close more deals.

Oh and giving feels good!

Giving has many health and emotional benefits. Giving makes you happier. It’s good for your health and it actually benefits your brain. I could tell you more, but I imagine that you all know this intuitively.

Nuff said.

How do you give in sales?

Giving in sales isn’t so different from helping a friend who needs your advice. You want to put the other person first and spend some time in their shoes. Ask: What are they struggling with? What do they need? How can I brighten up their day?

Giving builds your sales empathy, which — surprise, surprise — is also a massive tactic for closing more sales.

Here are a few specific ideas for how you can give in a sales relationship.

  • Make useful introductions – Build a robust network and cross-introduce as you see needs arise. Maybe Jane needs a roofing contractor and you have just the one!
  • Share helpful articles – Look to the needs or interests of the network around you.
  • Send actual gifts – Sometimes a small gift can make a big difference in someone’s life.

Giving is the best tool you could possibly add to your sales stack. It’s easy, it’s free, and you can start using it right now — no credit card required. 🙂

I’d love to hear how you give, and what your experiences have been as a result of giving!

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Announcing Better Site-Wide Search – Our Most-Requested Feature!

The #1 request in our most recent NPS survey was to fix the site-wide search feature, i.e. “Search Everything Here…” Since search is the cornerstone of karmaCRM, we don’t blame you for wanting it to be perfect!

Over the last month we spoke with many of our customers to make sure we get it right. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback! karmaCRM is customer driven. We’re humbled and honored to have users investing in making the platform better for everyone.

Today, we’re pleased to announce several enhancements and fixes that should dramatically improve your experience with site-wide search.

First, what is site-wide search?

It’s the bar in the top left of your app that allows you to do a quick search of your database for names, emails, phone numbers, etc.

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Here’s what’s changed.

Order doesn’t matter anymore

Let’s say you have a contact named John Peter Doe. You can now find this contact with any of the following:

  • “John D”
  • “John Doe”
  • “John Peter”
  • “Doe John”

You can omit middle names from search queries

Middle names are easy to forget, and now you don’t have to worry about it. A search for “John Doe” will still find John Peter Doe.

No more white space issues

In the past, you might have searched for a record you KNEW was there, only to get empty results. Often this was because of leading and trailing spaces in names. karmaCRM now eliminates these spaces so you get the correct results every time.

See expanded information about a single result

You might want some quick info about a record without opening it completely. If your search returns a single result, the bar will turn green and you’ll see expanded information about the record, such as their events, tasks, and files. More information all in one place!

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Thank You!

The feedback from the survey was clear. You wanted a better site-wide search experience, and today our dev team has delivered one. We can’t do it without customers like you.

You rock!

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Tips for Hiring Your First Employee and Growing Your Team

The early stages of growth in a company can feel a lot like riding a bike blind – you’re going fast, need help steering, and might faceplant into a pole at any point.

Going from a solo operation to a team is infinitely more complex than going from 100 to 101. Hiring slouches early on is downright ruinous, while getting it right … (singing) the clouds part as light pours onto your paper-steeped desk.

Your first new hire is an integral “can’t-live-without” cog in your growth machine, your #2. (The same goes for #3 and #4.) Your very sanity depends on it. It’s VERY expensive to get this wrong. Trust me, I have.

I’m not going to lie, hiring is tough. The entire process is lengthy, and you never really know if you’ve found “the one.” Even knowing when the right time to hire is a challenge.

Here are a few things to consider.

When is the right time

It’s easy to look at your revenue and think “I can’t afford anyone else.” Early expansion can be painful, but it’s like starting a family – once you’ve done it, you can’t imagine how you lived without them.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves. I mean EVERYTHING. You are actually losing money by doing this, no question. Sure, as the owner of a small company, you’ll wear a lot of hats. But you don’t have to wear every hat. Balancing 30,000 things on your head might be a cool Cirque du Soleil trick, but it’s a major drawback in running a small business.

Side note: If you ever want to consider selling your company, the superhero “nobody-can-do-it-better” founder is a huge deal breaker. You need to show robustness and distributed dependence on more than one person.

How I decide to hire (and whom)

To decide if I need to hire someone, I start by valuing my time at an hourly rate, based on what I could get working for someone else. Then, I look at all of the tasks that I consider outside of my core competency. Since I’m a developer, I look at things like how much time I’m spending on admin, bookkeeping, and customer support.

Then, I consider the potential upside. If I was able to focus more on the thing I do best – coding – could I positively affect growth? If the answer is yes, then I hire.

The single most important hire I’ve ever made was my customer success person, Shirley Robinson. She has a magical knack for solving problems and a deep, genuine care for our customers. She has a patience and disposition that I could only dream of.

I started karmaCRM doing both development and support, but quickly realized that by focusing on one the other suffered. Shirley solved that and has quickly become a cornerstone of my company’s foundation.

Think what would have happened if I had tried to save money and keep doing it myself. I’d be swamp wading through support requests, doing a mediocre job, while watching my product slowly die.

Before you hop over to post a job on Craigslist, take some time to really think about what type of person you want. Not their skills but their essence. Are you hiring a superstar “ninja” with an ego the size of a hot air balloon, or do you want someone with humility, energy, and hunger to learn?

At this stage, experience matters a whole lot less than essence and raw talent.

Hiring for experience or talent

The first step is deciding what you’re looking for – raw talent or specific skills. They both have a place, but personally I’ve had much better luck hiring for raw talent instead of a specific skillset.

What I mean when I say “raw talent” is that the person you are hiring is intelligent, capable of learning fast, and is hungry to learn. They might not have done the specific job before, but because they have talent, they can learn fast.

They’re clay, waiting to be sculpted (and excited about it).

I’ve hired “seasoned” employees before, and let me tell ya, they come with a lot of baggage. I once hired a 100k senior project manager who professed his “cold lunch” project management style. This meant he kept people so busy that they didn’t have time to eat their lunch warm.

The first week, he took two-hour lunches every day and was caught reading a magazine at his desk multiple times.

He came with a jaded, enterprise-entrenched sense of work ethic. While this may have worked at Acme Corp X with a billion employees, it certainly wasn’t going to cut it in my team of 5.

Sometimes the seasoning is too strong and the food is best with just a little salt and pepper.

People with raw talent are hungry and moldable. They are also inherently versatile and can help fill a lot of cracks. I typically seek out people who are comfortable being “thrown in the fire” instead of those who expect manuals and procedures.

Let’s be honest, if you’re anything like I was, you have no employee handbook, your processes are scribbled on napkins, and you need a firefighter, not a gas station attendant for your #2 hire.

Know thyself

With every new hire, we have everyone on our team do a personality test. This helps us understand our current dynamic and how the new hire might fit in. Culture cannot be an afterthought while growing your team, and investing in understanding what makes each person tick can be paramount to getting stuff done.

We took the free version of the Myers-Briggs test (but there are plenty of other options out there) and analyzed the results. Then we discussed our results as a team. We were sure to highlight aspects of the results that were accurate, and others that were not.

These tests have some very useful insights, but it’s important not to put yourself in a box. Personality tests can help you understand the current dynamics powering your decisions, but since you’re dynamic, so are your results. My long-term team members and I have taken the test multiple times, and our results have changed over time.

How powerful it is to work, change, and grow with others.

Ok, so now you know what you’re looking for and you have a solid understanding of your team’s genetic makeup. Now it’s time to decide what this new hire looks like. Is it an individual, a group of people, or a robot? Are they sitting next to you, or across the ocean?

These days, you’ve got options!

Consider contracting instead of hiring

As a bootstrapped small business owner, you learn to think outside of the box. Does it need to be a real-deal W-2 employee, or could it be a 1099 contractor? Does it even need to be one person, or would the job be done better by a few part-time people.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself when making this huge hiring leap. I’ve had businesses run entirely on a crew of contractors, hired mostly from sites like www.upwork.com. It’s affordable, and you can hire much better talent when location isn’t as important.

This can’t work for every company, but it’s important to at least consider a contractor instead of an employee, especially to start. They are less expensive from a tax perspective, and you can do a contract-to-hire, giving you a trial period with the person.

Please consult your lawyer and HR person before pulling the trigger. The contractor vs. employee lines can be quite blurry.

Once you make this determination, you’re off to the races to write your shiny new job posting. DON’T SKIMP on this part. If you write a zombie-inspired job description, you’re going to get zombie applicants. Spend the time and write a zingy job application that has personality. You’re fighting for the smartest, most versatile people. Show them why they should pick you.

So with the post up, how do you actually go about the hiring process. Everyone probably has their own opinions here, but we’ve shared a peek into our process for your enjoyment.

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Hiring is a daunting, yet rewarding, process, but don’t rush it! Budget some time for a little introspection. What do things look like right now, what’s your culture like, what are you like? Each hire will make a resounding and definitive stamp on your company’s culture, so it’s best to be intentional. Otherwise, your culture will grow wild like weeds.

It’s almost a guarantee that while growing, the vision you have for your company will get foggy. I’ve found it a very healthy practice to do a personal retreat at least once a year and make sure my “why” is secret-island-mountain-spring clear.

Continuously revisit your passion, and course correct when necessary. If you do, it will be easier to identify who you need alongside you to actualize your vision.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

Putting the Karma in karmaCRM: Our Commitment to Giving Back

We launched karmaCRM on April 12th, 2010. Over the years we’ve built cool stuff, had wonderful interactions with our customers, and helped companies grow. It’s been an incredible journey, but something has been missing – the soul of karmaCRM.

I picked our name for a reason. 2016 is the year to start living up to it. Let’s walk through the history of how the company came to be, and where we’re headed.

Where it all started

In 2008, I cofounded a web development consultancy – MetaSpring. I handled the sales, and we were growing. So, I hired my first salesperson to help out. Hurray, right?

Well, not so fast. Bring on the growing pains.

Within a few weeks of hiring Joe, we had a textbook need for CRM. We were accidentally both calling the same people, leads were slipping through the cracks, and, worst of all, we were keeping way too much in our heads.

A call from Jeff (a big prospect of ours at the time) was the final nail in the coffin. He asked about the status of the proposal Joe and I were working on. I provided outdated information, with the wrong estimate … oops. He knew.

I felt ashamed. I got off the phone flustered, a true hot mess.

In just 4 short weeks, we had:

  • Lost leads we’d spent good money on
  • Provided clients with bad information, making us look bad
  • Gotten into sales gladiator “telepathy” fights – we both expected the other person to know what was in our heads
  • Lost sight of what to focus on, what the priorities were. We used our inboxes to tell us what to do next. And let me tell you, the inbox doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Dang you, Gmail…

Cocktail napkins, spreadsheets, and sheer willpower weren’t going to cut it. Not if we wanted to grow. We needed CRM.

Over the next 6 months, we tried every tool under the sun. It was a glorious battle filled with hundreds of hours of support calls. And it was a battle we … lost. With the products I tried, I felt like I was being forced to use a jet engine to drive to the grocery store.

I felt like Goldilocks. The available sales tools were either too big or too small. Never just right. My salesperson kept going back to spreadsheets, and I was on the verge of busting a vein.

The search dragged on, meaning I lost valuable prospecting time. I needed something simple, lightweight, and fast to implement.

So, I did what every developer wants to do. I built my own.

I spent a weekend on the initial prototype, and within a few weeks of us using it, we were already fixing some of our past mistakes. We started to communicate better, the watercooler battles were reduced, and, best of all, our company was growing again.

Over the next 3 months, this tool became a part of my DNA. I used it daily, identified bottlenecks, and made rapid and continuous changes. I poured love into the vision of an affordable, simple CRM for people like me.

I decided to sell my ownership in MetaSpring and focus on building karmaCRM full time. Since this was my third company, I knew the world of small business well. I had personally experienced the workflow issues and I knew I could help. Being a salesperson and a developer meant I could straddle both sides of the line and make sure nothing slipped through the cracks.

I had my focus.

Built for small businesses

How often do you see that when you’re looking for a CRM. “We’re built for small business – only a $1,000 setup fee, then $200 a month per user.”

Pshaw.

That might fit your idea of what a small business can afford … if you consider Chrysler a small business.

I built karmaCRM for myself and people like me – the small guys. We don’t need fancy charts and graphs, we just need help knowing what to do next, staying on top of things, and keeping in touch with our customers regularly. Plenty of enterprise CRMs say they cater to the small business market, but you can’t just retrofit a double decker bus to behave like a zippy motorcycle.

I wanted to build a tool for small businesses from the ground up. The local scrappy startup type of small business, not the 500-employee car company type of small business. We’re never going to focus on enterprise. Our vision is the help small businesses grow and we want to stay aligned and laser focused on that vision, even if the enterprise clients come a-knocking.

We’re for the small guys, the solopreneurs, the 3-5 person teams – with a packed-to-the-brim schedule.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 16. I never worked in, or understood, the enterprise world. Convert a lead to an opportunity, to a deal, to a … what? I’m lost. Lost, Lost, Lost.  

I do business with people, humans. I just wanted to keep track of that. My number one goal was to build better relationships, not brag about a pipeline full of an arbitrary 76% closing probability.

I set out to craft system that put simplicity and relationships first.

My focus was:

  1. To be able to easily see what my team was doing and who they were interacting with.
  2. To create a single source of truth for communication with my contacts.
  3. To have light, but well-crafted, customizations. My tool needed to speak my language, instead of requiring me to translate between CRM lingo and my sales lingo.
  4. To focus on relationships instead of transactions. Quality over quantity.

Bam. I had my vision for the product. Now I needed a name.

Why karmaCRM?

I believe that building a strong, vibrant business starts with the why. I could have built karmaCRM to be a soulless, CRM monster, but that wouldn’t have been fulfilling. I wanted a company rooted in something bigger, something that could become my life’s mission.

I wanted to find a way to give back. The concept of karma always resonated with me. I took a long look at the business people I respected most, and I realized that they were all people who embodied the idea of karma by giving back, by constantly adding value, and by generally improving the lives of people around them. You’d think this would be a public service, right? Nope, they’re also the most financially successful people in their fields – it goes hand in hand.

(PS: A wonderful byproduct of giving is it also makes you happier.)

I chose the name karmaCRM because I believe that the landscape in sales is shifting. Sales isn’t about taking; it’s about giving. We’re moving from highly transactional and impersonal to highly human and deeply personal. The more you care about the person and add value to their life, the more likely you are to establish a deep connection.

What does it mean to add value? Here are a few examples:

  • Help someone get hired
  • Share an article you think someone would like
  • Make a useful introduction
  • Help someone find a service contractor
  • Show someone you care
  • Send someone a gift

This idea of providing value through sales isn’t original. There’s an incredible movement behind it, outlined in the book The Go-Giver.

Now I had the product and the name, but, honestly, I didn’t grasp the true ramifications of what the name would mean until now. That’s why I’m writing this post.

We created massive shoes to fill. Now it’s time to fill them.  

What does the future hold?

We’re committing, today, to shift the meaning of karma in karmaCRM from abstract to actionable. We want to be the CRM that gives back and helps others do the same.

We’re committing to giving back to our customers in three ways.

  • Providing the tools you need to provide value to your customers

While we’re fundamentally a customer relationship manager, we want to add the philosophy of giving to how it functions. This means we’ll give you tools to learn your customers better, identify their needs, make effective introductions, and add value to your network –  every single day.

  • Donating on your behalf

Every month we’ll look at our most engaged users’ activity, and will donate to charities of their choice. The more tasks you complete and deals you close – the more we donate on your behalf.

  • Creating an ecosystem of success to provide empowerment and education

One of the major flaws in many CRMs is they operate on the assumption that your business is already thriving. That you have all the leads you need, and you just need to organize them.

From running a small business ourselves, we know this isn’t generally the case.

We want to be a direct support system to help you grow.

We operate under the assumption that you need more leads, that you could use help.

The more successful you are, the more successful we are. So, we’ll be investing in coaches, trainers, webinars, content, and strategies that help you grow. We’ll give away elite business coach hours, provide resources to help you to optimize your marketing, and even provide you with leads.

While karmaCRM has been around since 2010, our quest to live up to our name has just begun.

The lip service of giving ends today. Today we commit to better.

We’ll be publishing regularly about how this vision is becoming a reality, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about how we’re doing.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

How to nurture long-term relationships with clients

Finding clients is only the first part of the equation to becoming a successful real estate agent. Once you find clients, you need to keep them engaged through the entire home-buying or selling process, so that they ultimately end up buying or selling with you. After closing, continuing to nurture those relationships ensures that they become a source of ongoing referrals after their transaction with you is over.

Keeping clients engaged from the time they begin working with you through closing and for years beyond is they to making sure they continue to think of you whenever they or someone they know has a need to buy or sell a home, and provide those referrals that will be the bread and butter of your business.

This is about developing relationships that last. How do you make it happen?

Communicate In-process. One of the biggest determining factors of whether your relationships are going to last over the long term is the service and communication you provide to your clients while you’re in process with them. Deciding when and how to communicate can be a challenge, because each client may differ, in terms of what and how often they want to hear from you. Our suggestion is to develop a regular follow-up strategy for each client. This would involve valuable communication delivered at predictable intervals, agreed upon beforehand with the client so that they can know what to expect. The strategy we recommend includes:

  • Automated listing updates. Set up your active buyer clients to receive daily updates about new and reduced-price listings that are of interest to them. Make sure you review these. Extra-special opportunities? Homes you think will sell quickly? Follow up with a phone call! Sellers should also receive new listings, but for them, a roundup of weekly listings is probably more valuable, since they don’t need to hurry out to see the listings.

  • Weekly email updates. Send a brief update with any important market news or information that your buyers and sellers might need to know. This could include links to news stories about changes in mortgage rates, bought/sold information for the week in their target areas, or other news or information that might be of interest. The most important thing is that this information goes out regularly. You can set up these emails through your Karma CRM application, using a general template that goes to all clients, but personalized with a few thoughts for each specific client.

  • Follow-up calls in process. While your buyers and sellers are in process, you should incorporate regular follow-up calls to discuss how you each perceive things are going. Sometimes as a buyer searches for a home, they may find that some of their criteria have changed, or they decide to look in a different neighborhood. Listing clients may need to hear feedback that has been provided from showings and open houses. Regular calls and discussions go a long way toward making sure that you and your clients remain on the same page throughout the process.

Listen. One of the most critical skills you can develop as a real estate agent is the ability to listen well and incorporate feedback from clients. During the buying and selling process, there will be many times that client feedback can help you improve the service you provide. So when challenges arise, rather than defending how you do things, simply listen and assess whether there might be an opportunity to improve. Sometimes clients want daily communication, other times they may be sick of hearing from you, or they may feel you’re not communicating the information they need to know. Or maybe they feel that you’re not doing enough to help them find or sell their home. Whatever the case, listening well can help to defuse these kinds of concerns so that you avoid losing a client.

Be the go-to person. We’ve said before that one of the most important tools in your success is the market knowledge you bring to each client. This includes your network of referrals and resources that clients may need to access, either during the transaction or afterwards. Remind clients and referral resources that if they have a need for anything related to real estate, whether it’s a reasonably priced repair person or an attorney to help with legal matters, you’re the person to ask.

Keep in touch after closing. After the transaction closes, many agents move on to the next sale. Even if their service was great before closing, clients will soon forget you if you forget them. How can you prevent this?

  • Monthly newsletter. Your past clients should receive the monthly newsletter that goes to all prospects. Make sure it’s packed with useful information about real estate that isn’t just oriented towards buying or selling. Market information that shows how their real estate investment may be performing is always of interest, as well as information about how to care for their home throughout the year. Again, this can be scheduled through your KarmaCRM application to make keeping in touch easy.

  • Personal notes and phone calls. In this day and age of automated marketing, people still love the personal touch of a handwritten card or a phone call instead of a text. A birthday card, a note with an article or picture that reminded you of the client, or even just a call to check in and ask about FORD (Family, Occupation, Recreation, or Dreams) and learn what is new are important ways to keep in touch with clients over the long term.

  • Social media. Interacting with past clients on social media is a simple and easy way to stay in touch for years after the sale. Of course, your follow-up after the sale shouldn’t be limited to social media, but it is one way to stay in touch. One of the most effective ways to use social media is to check in on big dates in your clients’ lives and follow up with an in-person phone call or email message through your KarmaCRM app.

Treat every client like your most important client. This is possibly the most important piece of advice, because sometimes it’s easy to forget. Those renters down the street who walked into your open house might be buyers in a year or two. First-time buyers may be looking at a small condo today, but in twenty years they could be selling a million-dollar mansion. That elderly couple downsizing may not buy again … but their children and grandchildren might. Treat every client like they are your most important client. Give them all the same level of follow-up and service; you’ll find that they’ll reward you with loyalty and referrals for as long as you’re still in the business.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

How to Get Real Estate Leads on Facebook

Facebook has become the most popular social network on the planet. It would be a mistake to ignore as a lead-generation source, but it’s easy to get lost or intimidated. This guide will help you focus on free tactics that are proven to work. Getting free leads on Facebook boils down to one thing: “Content Marketing.” There are a lot of strategies out there – you may have tried boosting posts, or getting friends and family to like your page.

I’ve got news for you: 50 likes from prospects is better than 2,000 likes from people who aren’t your targets.

Stop focusing on Likes

While these “likes” might boost your ego, they’re not helping you generate valuable leads. If you want to use tools that help analyze your Facebook page likes, you’re going to get people who aren’t in your target market, and not interested in buying or selling real estate.

Stop talking about yourself

No one wants to see 5 posts a day about your listings. Keep the chatter about yourself to a minimum, and limited to no more than once per day. Invest time and energy thinking about how you can add value. There is an exception to this, if you’re writing high quality (non promotional) content on your own blog and want to share it on Facebook (see below).

Stop boosting posts

This can be a useful tactic, but be careful to ensure you have the right strategy and a way to measure success. Many people use this tactic as a shotgun approach to get visits and likes. Chances are, if you’re not a Facebook marketer, you might want to save your money.

Instead, you could consider running some ads on Facebook that directly target the leads you’re interested in.

Start sharing relevant content and adding value

This is the key. Share good content 3-5 times a day. Add value with every post. Think about the things your leads are interested in / concerned with and post that type of content.

Content Sharing Ideas:

Neighborhood information – new developments, restaurants, etc. The more of an expert you are in the neighborhoods you service, the more help you can be to your clients.

Real estate how-tos – targeting the consumer. Give them lots of ideas and insight to make the process easier for them.

Reasons to buy, reasons to sell – plant the thought to create customers. Maybe someone isn’t considering buying or selling – but if they see a compelling reason, they might consider it.

Start blogging

By adding value on your blog, you can also share on your Facebook page and drive traffic back to your website. Ultimately driving traffic from Facebook to your blog is the entire goal of this post. Blogging is something to consider, and one that has come highly recommended by top real estate agents – but it’s not for everyone. You can still grow your Facebook page and build leads without blogging, but this allows you to share your own content on your page, driving traffic back to your own site (and email capture system).

So you’re adding value, posting solid content, and driving qualified traffic to your website. Now what?

Start capturing emails

Once you drive people back to your site, make sure you capture their email address. It just so happens to be the entire point of this operation, so don’t skip this part. Make sure you have email marketing software like Mailchimp or Autopilot set up and ready!

By the way, email marketing software will help you stay in touch with all these leads, without having to email each one individually. These platforms aren’t real estate-specific, but pretty affordable – and easy to use!

As a bonus, check out Sumome – they have some pretty (and effective) methods of email capture that install right on your site.

Other ways to get leads on Facebook

While we believe that effective content marketing is the best way to grow traffic and leads, there are a few other options, if you’re willing to shell out the dough.

Promote posts

Facebook’s Promoted posts are another successful way to drive relevant, interested traffic to your website from Facebook. Here’s a video on the strategy.

Join groups

Find Facebook groups on real estate in your area, and become a part of the community. By engaging and adding value there, too, you could come out with some leads or partnerships with other agents.

Conclusion

Use this content marketing strategy on Facebook to drive traffic to your website and capture their email address. Being successful at this tactic boils down to adding value and genuinely caring about your prospects. The more helpful you are, the more people will be drawn to this content.

How do you get leads on Facebook? Is Facebook even a viable source for you, or do you have an alternative source to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

The 3 Professionals Who Will Help You Generate Referrals and How You Can Engage Them

For many agents, referrals are at the heart of their lead-generation strategy. All too often, though, agents think in terms of getting referrals from people in their personal sphere of influence. This is a great tactic, since you are known and trusted by those people; for agents whose sphere may not be so large, it can be limiting.

A good rule of thumb is that if you have fewer than 50 people in your sphere of influence – defined as people who know you well, trust you, and would advocate for you to the people they come into contact with – then it will be important for the success of your business to increase your referral base.

One of the best ways to do this is by developing your professional network. This is a strategy that has worked well for many real estate professionals. One of the reasons it works is that you are creating mutually beneficial relationships. The ideal referral relationship is one where each person benefits from the relationship – where referrals can flow both directions. This kind of mutual benefit opens doors; getting in front of these people is fairly easy, since they will be just as interested in developing a relationship with you, as you are with them.

So what kinds of professionals should you be seeking out to develop a referral relationship with, and how do you approach them? Read on to learn how this strategy works!

Real Estate-Related Professionals

In every real estate transaction, there are a number of professionals and business owners who will be involved in making the transaction happen. These include mortgage brokers, home inspectors, repair people and handymen, escrow professionals, and more. You’ll be referring business to these people with every transaction.

Referrals can also flow your way if you select the right people to be your partners.

Who are the right partners? Not necessarily the most experienced professionals with the highest volume of business. Remember, the real estate industry has a very high burnout rate, and more established professionals may see a newer agent or someone they don’t know well as a risk. They’ll be happy to take referrals from you, but may not be willing to reciprocate.

A better idea, when you are a new agent, is to team up with others who are newer to the business, and help each other. A new mortgage broker will be more likely to reciprocate, and is unlikely to have already selected a real estate agent to whom they will refer the majority of their business. As you become more established, it will be easier to develop relationships with more established professionals.

It’s also important to remember that the way these professionals conduct their business will reflect on you, so make sure to find partners who are trustworthy and will do a good job with your clients.

Attorneys, Accountants, and Financial Professionals

In your real estate business, you will be dealing with all kinds of real estate buyers and sellers, from first time buyers, to investors, to retirees looking to downsize. Each of these people will likely have questions that are outside your area of expertise. That’s why it’s important to develop relationships with the people who can answer your clients’ questions. But don’t stop there – cultivating relationships with these types of professionals can also result in referrals in your direction.

Think about the different specialties within the broad categories of law and accounting, and how they might refer business to you:

  • Divorce attorneys often have clients who need to liquidate their home. Those clients might also buy two new homes (although it’s unlikely you would be working with both parties, since divorces can be quite acrimonious).
  • Probate attorneys may need to refer clients to a real estate agent to sell a home, so that the deceased’s heirs can split the proceeds.
  • Accountants may advise clients to invest in real estate as a tax shelter, or they may be working with a property investor to perform a 1041 exchange, where an investment property must be sold, and a new property purchased within a set timeframe.
  • Wealth managers may advise a client to move some of their assets out of stocks and bonds and into real estate for better returns, or vice versa.

Keep in mind that the transactions you’ll be dealing with from these kinds of professionals are likely to be more complex. Make sure you understand how these transactions work, as well as the needs of each client, before you take these referrals, as mistakes can cost you future business. It’s also important, before you refer to these professionals, that you understand and are comfortable with how they conduct their business. Both of your reputations are on the line with every referral.

Other Real Estate Agents

Real estate is a very broad profession, and there are a number of ways that you can go with your business focus. Some agents specialize in commercial, residential, or new construction. Others might specialize in working with investors, or condominiums, or build a practice focused on one specific neighborhood.

Never was the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” more true than in the real estate business. One of the biggest secrets of the most successful agents is that they develop a specialty and focus their business on that. When it comes to business that isn’t in their area of expertise, they’ll often refer it to another agent for a negotiable referral fee.

Use this knowledge to your advantage, by working hard to develop positive relationships with other agents and setting up mutually beneficial referral relationships with them. If your specialty is first-time buyers in neighborhood A, establish a relationship with an agent who specializes in neighborhood B, or who works mainly with luxury home buyers, and you’ll each be able to build your business and collect referral fees for each referred transaction that closes, while retaining your focus on the clients you really want to work with.

How To Engage Your Professionals

If you select the right kinds of professionals to target, engaging them is easy. Simply call them up and offer to buy them a cup of coffee so you can get to know each other and see if there is a way to work together to help each of you be more successful. Most business owners are on the lookout for relationships that can help them generate referrals, so they will be happy to talk to you.

If cold calling isn’t in your comfort zone, another option is to meet these professionals through a networking organization, such as your local Chamber of Commerce or Le Tip. This allows you to meet more casually and get to know each other, before attempting to meet and establish a referral relationship.

Finally, it’s important to remember that how you conduct yourself in your relationship with these professionals will reflect on your business ethics. So make sure that your follow-up is impeccable. Using your KarmaCRM, make it a regular part of your business to meet with two new professional referral sources each week, and follow up with two others, so that you are always building new relationships and maintaining your existing ones. This keeps the relationship fresh and the referrals flowing.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.