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.

The One Thing Everyone Gets Wrong about CRM

I’m about to say the unthinkable – that a primitive, cell-toting spreadsheet can be just as effective as any million-dollar-a-month CRM.

“WHAT?” you say? “Aren’t you the founder of a CRM company? Blasphemy!

It really doesn’t matter if you use a spreadsheet, a Rolodex, or a complex CRM; without the right strategy, you won’t make it far. It’s the development of this overall strategy that most people miss. If you rush this journey by jump right into picking a CRM, you’ll end up with a lack of clarity that usually spirals into angry salespeople, unused products, and general chaos in the streets.

Let’s consider an all-too-typical story.

Meet Biff Jones.

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He’s the sales manager at Goats-for-Pets LLC. He’s been tasked with finding a CRM. Why? He doesn’t really know, he’s just been told by his boss / wife / coach that he needs one. Biff is pressed for time, so he Googles “Best CRM for (Insert Industry Here)” and signs up for a trial for the first 5 he finds.
Before he has time to say “Jimmy Crickets,” he’s neck-deep in a powerful deluge of trial emails, all equally eager to close the deal.

The products are all starting to bleed together.

He’s getting 17 onboarding emails a day, all screaming for his attention.

Finally the trials expire and it’s time for a decision. On a tight deadline, he picks one, Russian-roulette style and sashays out an email out to the team, fingers crossed, whimpering, “Here’s our new CRM; use it.”

And that’s that.

Without any shared strategy, no one is communicating, and the CRM starts to resemble the Tower of Babel. Through sheer grit, a few salespeople manage to salvage the CRM and trudge on. Everyone else fades, like your favorite blue shirt when it was washed with that pesky generic detergent.

Soon, most people are back to notes on cocktail napkins. The red-faced manager is trying to get the team to use the system again, and can’t understand why this shiny new $500-a-month tool is gathering dust.
Eventually the company decides to cancel the CRM because no one is using it, and they start the whole process over. Rinse, repeat, and guess what happens about 6 months later … rinse, and repeat again!

Sound familiar?

You’re not alone – CRM initiatives currently have a 63% fail rate, according to a new study by Merkle Group Inc.

A major contributor to CRM failure is that companies skip the less glamorous planning phase and jump right into trialing software. We’d argue that trialing software doesn’t come into play until step three. After onboarding countless people to CRM, we’ve seen the same confusion and lack of clarity arise time and time again.

Based on this insight, we’ve developed a few steps that can be your lighthouse in the angry sea of CRM.

  • Understand your goals
  • Make the commitment
  • Pick the tool (hint: one is better than none)
  • Define your processes
  • Develop your personal CRM routine
  • Measure and optimize

Understand your Goals

Bring your whole team in, and discuss what you want to accomplish by having a CRM. Is it to increase referrals, close bigger deals, or just better organize your existing customers? Each of these might have very different implications when it comes to picking the right tool. There are a LOT of options out there, so having some criteria to narrow it down really helps.

This clarity on your CRM objectives will also help you measure success later!
Once you know what you are searching for, and BEFORE you start finding software, do some internal soul searching. How serious are you about making this CRM work? This is the single most important aspect of being successful with CRM.

Make the Commitment

I hear from people all the time, who are interested in CRM, but won’t commit. They are overworked, overwhelmed, and constantly dropping the ball, but haven’t made the firm commitment to change.
To be at the top of your game, you have to escape the rat race and invest your time in the right areas. It’s not just a commitment to use CRM regularly, it’s a commitment to growth, and being better than you were last year.

Make the commitment: Dive in and don’t look back. If you don’t make the commitment, do yourself a favor and stick to gmail chaos. You’ll just end up back there, a few months later, and a few hundred dollars poorer.

To do CRM right, you’re going to need to invest time, period. If you’re not committed, stop here.

If you’ve dug deep and decided enough is enough – then you can proceed to picking the right tool for the job.

Pick the Tool

So now you’re on a roll. You have clarity on your goals; you’re committed to kicking ass.


Now it’s time to apply these goals to the selection process. If you’ve decided that increasing referrals is your number one priority, then you want to look for a CRM that focuses there, like karmaCRM or Contactually. If you have the leads and want to increase your daily output capacity, you might pick a transactional selling tool like

You can see how having this clarity helps you dramatically reduce potential options, and allows you to refine your search to specifics.

Here are a few things to consider when picking a CRM:

  • How is their support?
    Do they respond quickly? Do you feel like they actually answer your questions, instead of responding with canned gobbledygook?
  • Do they have a mobile app?
    With so much of sales happening on the road, you want to make sure you can get to your data anywhere.
  • How much of the product will you actually … actually use
    They might have a ton of bells and whistles, but when it comes down to it, what features do you need, day in and day out? The more bloat, the more unlikely you’ll be to put this tool to effective use.
  • What integrations do they have?
    It’s important that you don’t have to change too much of how you do things already, in order to accommodate a CRM. The higher the friction, the lower the adoption.
  • How long have they been around?
    Do they have Capterra reviews, do they have a twitter following, have they published recent blog posts? CRM is a highly competitive market, and tools come and go with the wind. Make sure you’re buying into a product that’s here to stay

This phase can last a long time, so don’t be intimidated. It’s important you give trial periods time to breathe, so you can see how they align with your vision. Once you’ve found that alignment in a product, it’s time to craft processes to define how this thing will be used on a daily basis.

Define your Processes

Think through the workflow. How will the team interact with this product? Who’s going to do what, and what parts of the tool should we ignore? Be proactive and ensure everyone is using the tool the same way. You might consider nominating a process-oriented team member to help craft the CRM strategy.

We’ve seen entire teams passionately using in their CRM … in 30 very different ways.

Avoid building a CRM Slum; it’s not fun to clean up after.

Proactively ask your team these questions:

  • What does our sales process look like?
  • Will we use the system fields, or do we need to create our own?
  • What features will we use?
  • What features won’t we use? (Then, ideally, these can be hidden from view.)
  • If we’re using open tagging, can we agree in advance what tags to use?
  • How will lead assignment work?
  • Who’s going to be the CRM manager?
  • What integrations will we be using?

This process paves the way to how you as an individual will be using the platform. Despite what marketing jargon says about “automatic, automated, save time, shave time,” you still need to spend good ol’-fashioned human hours in your CRM to keep things clean-shaven and relevant.

Build a Personal CRM Routine

Beyond defining how you’ll use CRM in general, you should consider crafting your own personal CRM routine. True, the better CRMs will do a lot of heavy lifting for you, but you’re still going to have to talk with it, to maintain a relationship.

While this isn’t an exact science, here’s a general idea of how to invest your time with CRM:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes a day reviewing and updating the status of current leads.
  • Take a few hours a week nurturing relationships, sharing articles, sending emails and doing follow-up.
  • Once a week, do a full review to make sure people are in the right stages, new contacts are properly categorized, and your tasks are getting done.

By doing this, you learn to trust the data in your CRM. This trust becomes the foundation for growth as you start to have more relationships than you can keep straight all by yourself.

And you’re done, right? Now, the profits will start rolling in! No, don’t stop here. You’re doing great, but don’t get too complacent. You got to constantly measure, optimize, and push to stay ahead of the Joneses.

Measure and Optimize

By following these steps, you’ve definitely increased the likelihood of succeeding with your CRM initiative – See there, Biff! You’re not done, though; it’s not a one-time deal. Success requires constant review and optimization. Being the best is a constant effort, but at least you’ll start on the right foot. You might even consider a quarterly review of your CRM to see how it’s helping you get closer to your company goals.

You could look into what sort of internal features the CRM has for goal setting and measurement. Figure out ways to keep you and your team accountable.

What do you think?

Each step in this process is a great blue whale, and warrants its own deep dive. We’re going to be publishing separate posts on each of these topics, and eventually putting it all together in an eBook. I’d love to hear your experiences, and how we can improve the CRM adoption experience together.

Whew, there it is. We’d love to hear about your experience in embarking on the CRM journey. Did we miss a step?

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.

New Feature – Announcing Buckets!

2016 is the year of selling through relationships. KarmaCRM has decided to focus on making our CRM software less about high volume transactions and more about high value relationships. This bucket feature is the first of many that will help you maintain richer relationships, better leverage your existing network, and more easily identify the places to add value.

What are Buckets?

Buckets are a simple way to organize your CRM to make it easy (and automated) to followup with your contacts. By creating a bucket and giving it a followup date, when that date is hit karmaCRM will automatically notify you that you should followup with that person.

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How Should I Use Them?

There are 2 primary ways to use buckets. You can use buckets as a grouping, allowing you to segment your contact list into groups that have different contact time frames.

  • Hot Prospects (create a followup every 7 days)
  • Current Customers (create a followup every 90 days)
  • Referral Partners (create a followup every 60 days)

Or you could name your buckets based on the followup timeframe EG:

  • 2 Weeks (create a followup every 14 days)
  • 1 Month (create a followup every 30 days)
  • Quarterly (create a followup every 90 days)

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In either case, you can set it and forget it! Once a contact is in a bucket, we’ll remind you to followup automatically so you can safely avoid creating mountains of individual followup tasks.

Solving the Problem of What To Do Next!

Buckets are the first step into helping solve the daily problem of “what do I do next”. We’ll be moving events and tasks into this system also giving you a clear at-a-glance view into what your day looks like. This allows you to focus on bringing your best to the conversations and helping add value to your relationships, instead of administering CRM.

How to I Get Access?

If you’re already on our $25/user/month plan, you get buckets for free! If you’re not, contact a support agent, and we can set you up on a trial of the new plan.

Thanks To Our Customers

This feature was built based on a lot of tremendous feedback from you, our customers. We wanted to thank everyone who took the time to fill out our bucket survey, which helped us scope and plan this feature. We want you to know that we listen, and if you take the time to help us, we can help you even better.

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.

How to Start Meaningful, Professional Relationships in a Room Full of 500 People

We’ve all been there.

Stuck in a room of 500 other professionals going from circle to circle, attempting to forge the beginnings of a meaningful relationship out of a business card and a cocktail. For many, these events only end with dozens of business cards to which you could hardly match the name with the face of its owner.

I know this struggle. I was the epitome of this struggle. That is, until I stopped networking, and started actually building REAL relationships.

The amazing crew at DC Nightowls holds co-working events at local DC co-working spaces every couple weeks, which are great opportunities to meet and network with fellow entrepreneurs and creatives. It was at their latest event, which was held at the beautiful 1776 in Washington, DC, that I began my journey of building 200 meaningful business relationships.

I walked in knowing no one and walked out with the building blocks of seven real relationships. These relationships represent possibilities for collaboration, advice, key introductions, and of course, sales!

So what was my recipe for success? Well…it all started with a dash of curiosity.

Start with a dash of genuine curiosity

When you start off any type of relationship, it can seem like there’s a 10,000 foot invisible wall that both parties have built and fortified. It’s up to each person to knock that wall down to allow a real connection to be made. In order to knock down those walls you have to make people feel comfortable, and the best way to do that is to get people to talk about themselves. I mean, who doesn’t love to talk about themselves to a genuinely interested audience?

However, sincerity is the key. It is important to walk into every conversation with a genuine interest in what the other person is doing. A genuine interest in their business, their career, their history, their latest vacation, their favorite restaurant, and their favorite team to root against (probably the Patriots or any team with a guy named LeBron).

You can start off with the obvious. If you’re at a startup event, ask about their business, their latest projects, and the latest trends in their industry. Also, remember to dig a little and ask the appropriate follow-up questions to further a rapport.

A great rule of thumb for every initial conversation I have with someone I’ve just met is to try and walk away knowing five interesting facts about that person.

ProTip: Someone’s name is not an interesting fact. Get to really know them! If you find out that someone was a founding member a 500 Startups backed company, you’re starting to find some interesting facts.

Remember to also look for a few clues that will give you insight on the background of the person you’re talking to. This can be extremely easy online since everyone has a Twitter, Linkedin, and often times a company profile that you can check. You can also do this easily in-person as well. Check to see what interesting t-shirt or shoes someone’s wearing. If they have on the latest Yeezy’s, chances are they are dying to tell you the epic story of how they obtained them. Paying attention to things like accents, body language, and other signs can give you great clues on a person’s background.

One of the biggest networking wins I have had this year was with a friendly Lyft driver named Nick that just so happened to be the co-founder of an awesome new startup out of DC called Pyazza.

We met as he picked my crew up from a local festival. I sat in the front seat, noticed a 1776 sticker on his dashboard, and asked him if he often worked at the workspace. He said he didn’t usually frequent 1776, but that he was the founder and CEO of an amazing startup and good friends with a few of the guys who gave me my first shot in the startup world.

That’s what I like to call an instant connection, and it was made possible by staying alert to my surroundings and the aesthetic clues around me.

Then make a connection

After you have begun to break down that wall, you need to remember to build something in it’s place so it won’t build itself back up. That something you must build is trust, and the best way to build it is to share stories, facts, and interesting tidbits about yourself that are relatable.

This was something I struggled with in my younger years. I was eager to stay out of the spotlight and let the other person shine, but I froze when it was my turn to talk about myself. This left the other person feeling like they had just been interviewed, instead of partaking in a sincere conversation. Relationship building is a two way street, and you must do your part.

During my initial run-in with Nick from Pyazza, we were able to figure out our mutual connection because I shared that I was also involved with startups. I made sure that I didn’t just interview him, but found something that we had in common and commented on it. We then dug deeper into our mutual interests and found a mutual connection. After that, any walls that we had up came crumbling down.

Offer to give

Once you’ve been able to disarm people and make a connection with them through similar interests or some other mutual connection, make sure you offer to give, in whatever capacity you can, before ever thinking of what you can receive from them. Giving can come in many different forms. It can be an introduction to a valuable contact that you have in your network, a helpful piece of advice, or an offer to help them with a project they are working on.

During my initial meeting with Nick, my offer was simply advice. Back then, Pyazza was in the early stages of their product launch and they were starting to roll out their marketing strategy. Nick and I got on the topic of social media tactics and I gave him a few tips on how he could expand his social footprint via Instagram quickly, yet inexpensively by using a few easy-to-implement tools. I can’t say if their team implemented these tactics, but I do believe Nick was appreciative of my well-meaning advice and impressed with my knowledge on the topic. I was able to then walk away from that short conversation having potentially helped his team and left an impression on a great new contact. I had built the beginnings of a great professional relationship.


Now this last part is perhaps the most important, and most botched, part of building meaningful professional relationships. Many people (not all) remember to follow-up with contacts, but very few people understand how to do this correctly.

You must remember to not only follow-up, but to also remember to keep on giving. As we said above, an introduction to a valuable contact that you have in your network, a helpful piece of advice, and a offer to help them with a project they are working on are all great ways to give a little and really add value to people’s lives.

In order to help you remember to add value, you can use a CRM like karmaCRM that automatically reminds you when to follow up with your contacts on a continuous schedule.

You simply need to add your new contact to karmaCRM, and then simply add them in the appropriate bucket. You’ll then be automatically reminded to follow up with that connection according to your preferences.

ProTip: Use FullContact’s card reader and Zapier to scan all your business card’s directly into karmaCRM. Be sure to try karmaCRM’s Zapier integration by the way. Connecting karmaCRM with 400 other applications just amplifies the awesome.

Then you’ll need to make sure that you follow up with some sort of valuable information or insight regarding our conversation. For instance, I sent Nick from Pyazza a few links to instagram marketing tools and a link to a blog article I had written about the topic. I continued to be helpful. You can send your new connections links to helpful articles, insightful whitepapers, or requests to introduce them to people that can help them out.

The last piece to master in the art of following up is to keep on following up. Relationships aren’t built from a single email and sometimes that email gets missed, ignored, or trashed. Don’t be afraid to have a bit of professional persistence and respectfully follow up with value added messages two or even three times before you get a reply.


We covered a lot here so remember:

Aim to learn five interesting facts about your new potential connections Build trust by opening up about yourself and making a connection Follow up by adding value Follow up again by adding value Follow up one more time… by adding value

There you have it! Now it’s your turn. How have you guys been building meaningful relationships? Sound off in the comments below.

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.

Maximize your referrals in 2016 by asking at the right time

Most sales reps, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other professionals don’t ask clients for referrals. It’s not because it’s not effective and it’s not because clients are unwilling to give referrals. The fact is that asking for referrals is a task that makes even the toughest sales reps squeamish because it often feels and comes off as a pushy, overly aggressive, and selfish ask.

Here at karmaCRM, we’ve been working with our existing clients to generate warm leads via referrals and have seen some great results. Referrals can be a great lead source for business consultants, freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, startups, and most SMB’s, so we wanted to share with you our process for attracting referral leads.

Ask at the right time

The best referrals come from your happiest customers right after they’ve experienced their “aha” moment with your product/service and have made a purchase. The moment when your customer or client is thinking “This is worth every penny!” is the moment you need to strike. Now, this requires first doing great business, which is a topic we discussed in last week’s post “Generating Referral Sales Starts with Doing Great Business”.

This point could be right after you deliver your product/service or when your product/service starts to show real results. It’s up to you to find the “aha!” moment that your product or service offers and strike while your customer is excited about you.

Don’t ask for a favor, do them a favor

Picking the right time to ask for a referral helps you in two key ways.

First, it makes asking for the referral 100x easier because you can frame the conversation as you doing your customer and your customers network a favor instead of the other way around.

Check out a sample conversation from a recent karmaCRM customer below:

Client: “Thanks so much for the helping me set things up! We have a nontraditional CRM setup, so the fact that karmaCRM could handle our off the wall needs is astounding to me. Thanks a ton for your help!”

Brandon: “No problem! I’m glad to see here how well everything is going. I know it’s tough trying to figure out how to best apply a CRM to your individual business needs. I’ve certainly heard some CRM search horror stories! I’ve talked to people that had been searching for months!”

Client: “That’s all too true. We ourselves tried about 15 different solutions before finding karmaCRM. I wouldn’t wish that on my friends or my worst enemies”

Brandon: “Wow! I can’t imagine going through so many solutions! Oh wait, I did the same thing with project management apps so I feel your pain!

You know, if you have any friends or colleagues that are looking for a CRM or may be looking for a CRM in the future you can refer them to me and I’d be happy to reach out with a helping hand.”

Client: “Actually, I know a few people who are desperate for a good solution….”

In this situation, since I made the ask while the client was overjoyed with our product, the client was more than happy to refer me to their network. I completely changed the situation from a awkward situation in which I was asking my client for a favor, into just another way I could add value to our customers lives.

Picking the right time to ask for a referral also means that you’re going to receive your most excited and your best customer referrals. You can think of your referring customer as an extension of your sales team. The more excited your sales team is and the more confident they are in the product, the better their pitch will be. You can ensure your referring customer is at his/her most enthusiastic by asking them for referrals at the right time.

Grab a testimonial or online review

I try to talk to at least 20-25 of our onboarding users every week to ensure I’m understanding our customers, their pain points, and ensuring they are onboarding smoothly. What I also learn during these calls is how often a lead has researched our platform on various review sites such as Capterra, Software Advice, or G2Crowd. I would estimate about 50% of our incoming customers have researched karmaCRM on a review sites and have been influenced by those reviews. In a world with 100’s of ways for potential customers to check reviews, testimonials, it’s important to have a great reputation on the web. Asking your happy customers for testimonials and positive reviews when they’re at their happiest is important as well.

The key to a great testimonial is to ensure that the testimonial covers the common hesitations a user would have regarding your service. In order to do that, keep these questions in mind when asking for testimonials and reviews.

  1. What were your major concerns or hesitations that may have stopped you from buying our product/service?
  2. What was the #1 benefit of buying our product/service?
  3. What results did you receive from buying our product/service?
  4. Would you recommend our product/service to a friend or colleague?

Continue to add value and nurture your relationships. Then ask again!

Not everyone you ask for a referral will know someone off the top of their head that they can refer you to. That’s why it’s important to continue to add value to the lives of your customers while continuing to nudge them toward referring you to their friends and colleagues.

You should already be striving to keep in regular contact with your customers and contacts through email marketing, or even better, personalized emails, social engagement, and even the occasional phone call. Sending a old client tips, advice, relevant blog articles, and even referrals of your own are great ways to continue to add value to the lives of your old customers.

You can use reminders, tasks, and events to remember to follow – up with old customers and clients in order to remember to stay at the top of their mind.

Follow up Question: Should I offer a incentive?

Incentives may work in certain situations, however your very best referrals are going to come from people that want to refer you whether you’re paying for the referral or not. Having a referral system with incentives is certainly a useful tactic, however, you should still be mindful of when, and how you ask for referrals.

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.

A Startup Guy’s Journey to 200 Active Business Relationships

I’m about to start off the first blog post in our business relationship building series by saying what we all know is true.

Networking really sucks and you’re probably really bad at it.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well because I suck at it myself – and I also hate it. I try to avoid it at all costs. I do however love to grab a drink with a fellow entrepreneur, marketer, or creative that I haven’t met before and discuss what they’re working on and perhaps extend them a piece of advice, referral, or lend them a hand in anyway I possibly can.

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that just networking?

Nope. Now let me tell you why I think that’s far from networking.

Why I hate networking…. and why I suck at it

One of the smartest kids in my graduating class from my accounting firm (Yep. I was an accountant. Shout out to PwC!) is a startup junkie, and back in 2014 he was a lone startup junkie with a nonexistent network in the world of entrepreneurship. He knew he had to start building a strong network in order to be able to find the partners, and potentially the investors, that he would need to build the business he was dreaming of.

We talked on the phone pretty often and his networking dilemma would come up in almost every conversation. Naturally I would suggest going out and getting involved with the local startup community. He was Chicago based so I suggested going to some 1871 events and meeting up with some of the cool folks there..

Feeling frustrated and deafeated, one night he just flat out told me:

“Man, I don’t know if I’m cut out for this. I’ve gone to maybe five events this month alone, got business cards, and followed up to see if people would like to work together on projects or see if I can work on their team. I’ve never gotten a single response.

Can I do this?”

My Mission

It was truly heart breaking to hear a fellow entrepreneur doubt himself at such an early stage in his startup journey. His intent was pure and he was willing to put in the work to build a network. That approach though…. It was really bad.

This is the kind of thing I want to help every entrepreneur, freelancer, real estate agent, coach, consultant, solopreneur, and anyone else that wants to build business relationships to avoid. I want everyone to stop thinking about “I” when they are networking. In fact, I want everyone to stop thinking about networking in general.

I want the readers of this blog to be masters of helping others and building relationships.

We’re not in the networking business anymore people. We’re in the relationship building business now!

The Goal

I’m here to prove that if you help, engage, and take a genuine interest in others, you can build a vast network of active contacts.

This will be a case study on how I’ll be building 200 active business relationships from a starting point of 0.

I picked 200 contacts because of a guy named Robin Dunbar, who seems to believe the human brain can only maintain 150 stable relationships. Well, let’s see if you’re right Mr. Dunbar.

For the purposes of this challenge an active or stable relationship will mean a person that I have had a meaningful conversation through text, email, on the phone, or in person, over the last 6 months. I will have 9 months to achieve this goal.

What I’ll tell you

As you follow this blog, I will be authentic and vulnerable with you.

  • I will tell you about my networking failures
  • I will tell you how nervous I get before each and every meetup, conference, or 1v1 coffee date
  • I will tell you how I get over my fear of speaking to a large group of people
  • I will tell you how awkward I feel sending seven follow emails to the same person
  • I will also tell you how elated I feel when I FINALLY get a reply with an sincere and apologetic response and an invitation to lunch

What you’ll learn

I hope this blog series will lead you all to a greater understanding of how to build deeper relationships that will start providing you with real business results. This will include:

  • How to start a business relationship off on the right foot
  • How to follow up on a business relationship after an initial meeting (with templates!)
  • How to build relationships online, and not just on LinkedIn
  • How to turn your network into leads for your business
  • How to nurture your network

How we’ll be building

I’ll be building relationships through various mediums both on, and offline. My tactics will differ across all these mediums, but my overall strategy will be the same. I will add value to people’s lives in whatever way they find most valuable (and doable on my end!).

I’ll be forging relationships via the following channels:

  • Meetup Groups
  • Startup Conferences
  • Marketing Conferences
  • Social Sites (LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, Twitter, Reddit)
  • Slack Groups
  • Through my existing
  • Our current and existing user base

I’ll be using karmaCRM to ensure I’m following up with my contacts at the appropriate times.

What’s up next?

There are quite a few big relationship building lessons I’ve learned thus far in my career that I’ll be posting about over the next few weeks. Over the course of this nine month challenge I’ll give you insights on things like winning my first $10k client as a freelance and why I then took a $200 job a month later. I’ll also be posting about my network adding 10 paying accounts to karmaCRM over the course of a month after I came on board.

This won’t be a blog just for the freelancers or solopreneurs. I’m going to be breaking down relationship building for individuals and companies in all industries from real estate agents and business coaches to accountants and lawyers.

Ready to learn?

Well, let’s go then!

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.

Generating Referral Sales Starts with Doing Great Business


Unlike most big CRM companies, karmaCRM doesn’t have a enormous marketing budget and a 30 person sales team. We’re a small business, just like our userbase, and we have the small marketing budget to go along with that designation. This just means our marketing tactics and lead generation channels have to be a bit different than your average CRM company. That’s why we’re proud to say one of our most dependable lead generation sources is word of mouth marketing.

That’s right. Word of mouth.

Over the past quarter, we can trace nearly a 25% of our leads to word of mouth sources. Our amazing users are telling their friends, colleagues, and network about karmaCRM and those people are signing up and becoming users themselves.

In this blog post we’re going to share with you how we generated those word of mouth leads by doing great business and building strong relationships and how you can do the same.

Be a Joy to Work With

People will talk about and evangelize your brand when you’ve been able to build amazing relationships with them. Whether you’re a tiny startup out of Denver, a one man business consulting practice, or a 10,000 employee corporation, customers love to feel connected with your company and your brand. At karmaCRM this idea of building relationships starts as soon as you sign up for our platform and is a staple of our customer happiness strategy.

The first step in being a great business partner and a joy to work with is great communication. At karmaCRM, this means when you email our support or sales team, or submit a ticket, you can rely on our team responding within 12 hours at the longest and most likely within a hour. For business consultants, this means clear communication that lets your client know exactly what they need to know, and timely communication that gets your client the information they need when they need it. In our experience, the very first sign that a client relationship isn’t going to be fruitful is a lack of communication.

Without a system to track when you need to communicate with a user or client you are doomed to forget. That’s where you’ll need a CRM like karmaCRM that allows you to set, manage, and be reminded of followups via text message or email.

Challenge your clients to be the best they can be

Often times, disrupting how a client goes about their business can be what sets you apart in their mind when they get an opportunity to refer you. This doesn’t mean insulting or tearing down your clients business, but it does mean challenging what has become their status quo. Our sales team is constantly gathering data, articles, and industry insights to share with our userbase. By putting the most relevant and educational information in front of our users, we challenge them to take the insights they have gained and apply them to their business.

We recently challenged a user who steadfastly believed none of his clients would be willing to refer him to their network with a Texas Tech report which states that 83% of satisfied customers would be willing to refer a product or service to their network. He decided to give asking clients for referrals a shot and was able to gather eight leads and eventually three additional clients in about an hours worth of time spent.

That user has since become a karmaCRM power user and has referred us countless times. Disrupting his mindset and challenging him to be a better business owner made karmaCRM standout as the most memorable CRM he has used. From there, we simply asked him to keep us in mind when asked what his CRM of choice was.

Be the referrer before being the referee

We are continually asked by people in our network and karmaCRM users how they can improve their business and who they should be talking to in order to get the advice they need. Luckily, karmaCRM is a great platform for business coaches, so we have countless business coaches that we can refer.

When we refer someone in our network to a karmaCRM customer, we make sure we send either a introduction email or a friendly note letting the business consultant or coach know that we have referred them. Not only do we love doing this for our users, but they are VERY likely to make sure to then return the favor and refer karmaCRM.


Referral sales comes down to building relationships by going above and beyond your user’s, client’s, or customer’s expectations. Whether you are challenging your client with valuable information or referring them to someone in your network, always remember to go above and beyond.

Next week we’ll be diving into how to make the ask and dissecting the different ways you can request referrals from your users and clients. In the meantime we’re interested to hear from you guys! How do you set your clients up so you can ask them for referrals? Let us know in the comments below!

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 Pre-targeting Helped us Achieve a 75% Cold Email Open Rate

Two weeks ago, the karmaCRM email marketing campaign was sitting at a healthy 51.5% open rate with a 13.5% reply rate over the last 1,000 sent emails. That has helped us generate 57 phone conversations which turned into 35 signups for our platform. Not too bad! However, after implementing a simple tactic to warm up our cold emails, our statistics were as follows:

Open rate: 75%

Reply rate: 21%

The key to our success was a little talked about tactic called pre-targeting. By pre-targeting our prospects with social advertisements before we send them cold emails, we familiarize our prospects with our brand. The key, is to ensure these pre-targeting ads are brand awareness ads. 

I’m going to dive into how we achieved a 75% cold email open rate and how you can implement this into your own sales prospecting process.

We’ll cover:

  • How to prospect for email addresses
  • How to run a pre-targeting campaign through Facebook or Twitter
  • How to structure your ads to maximize exposure and minimize cost

Let’s get started!

  1. How to prospect for email addresses

Prospecting for emails has become one of the most blogged about topics within the sales industry over the past year. With tools like Email Hunter, Leadfuze, Sales Intelligent, and Datanyzer, it’s easier than ever to find anyone’s verified email address. We won’t cover each tactic here, but see below to find our favorite blogs on the topic:

How to Find 200 Targeted Email Addresses for Tree

Find Email Addresses – 60+ Tools and Tips to Find Someone’s Email

How to Find Anyone’s Email Address

  1. How to run a pre-targeting campaign on Facebook and Twitter

Now that you have a solid email list, the real fun begins!

Pre-targeting is in essence very similar to retargeting on Facebook or Twitter using custom audiences or tailored audiences. You simply add your email list to your Facebook or Twitter ad campaigns, and let ads run ONLY for those specified email addresses

Pre-targeting with Facebook and Custom Audiences

For Facebook, pre-targeting can be done using a customer audience created for your pre-targeting campaign. There are again, tons of great articles that teach you how to utilize custom audiences, so we won’t reinvent the wheel. The guys at Shopify, Wishpond, and our favorite Facebook Marketer Jon Loomer all do a great job with Facebook custom audiences.  Check out the links below to read straight from the experts.

Shopify Pre-targeting: Scroll to Email Audiences section


Jon Loomer

Pre-targeting with Twitter Tailored Audiences

Retargeting (and pre-targeting) with Twitter works almost exactly the same as for Facebook except Twitter calls them tailored audiences. The guys and gals over at Sprout social kick some major butt on this topic. We took insights directly from their Tailored audiences article and we recommend you do the same. Read their article here

  1. How to structure your pre-targeting ads

With pre-targeting, you should be using a strategy that allows you to maximize your reach and increase brand awareness but also minimizes costs. So the key here is to run CPC campaigns that DO NOT get clicks or run CPM campaigns instead. You DO want your ad to stand out and be seen, just not clicked. That means you don’t want a call to action (I know it’s Madness!).

You should run your pre-targeting campaign for about 3 days prior to sending out your emails to your list to maximize the  opportunities that your target market has to see your advertisement. The warmer the lead the better!

Last Thoughts

Social media retargeting has become one of the hottest trends in internet marketing over the last couple of years because of it’s low customer acquisition costs and high conversion rates. Sales teams can now utilize these same tools and principles to warm leads, increase outbound email open rates, and get more qualified leads into the funnel!

As always, cold emailing is a process, so expect to test, iterate, test, and then iterate some more to get the desired results. However, if you stay consistent and diligent, you can achieve rockstar stats!

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 Find 200 Targeted Email Addresses for Free

If you’re beginning a cold email campaign, then guess what…you need emails! Luckily, we’ve developed a method for obtaining up to 200 emails per month for free.

What you’ll need


Email Hunter (Including Chrome Extension)

karmaCRM (Including Chrome Extension)

The Process

The process is simple and can be completed in just three steps.

Step 1. Find your target on LinkedIn

The first thing you’ll need to do is find the people you want to make contact with. If you know your target, then you can simply search for their name. If you’re prospecting for cold email outreach, then you need to ensure you are identifying the right prospects.

To identify prospects you can analyze past sales and ask yourself:

  • What size company did these sales come from?
  • What was the job title of the decision-maker?
  • What industry was the company in?

Ask yourself similar questions about your marketing personas, and use them to identify the correct prospects.

Once you have figured out your ideal traits, you can use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to find prospects.

Protip #1: You can save the results of a search using the “Save Search” feature located in the upper right hand corner of LinkedIn’s search field. You can save up to three searches with your free LinkedIn account.


Step 2. Find your email addresses

Now that you’ve found your target and have installed the Email Hunter chrome plugin, you can easily use Email Hunter to find your target’s email address.

Simply click the orange Email Hunter button and wait a few seconds, and Email Hunter will search the net to find your target’s email address.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.19.47 PM

Email Hunter will also tell you other email addresses found with that domain and the confidence level of each of the emails.

Step 3. Move them into your CRM

Now you have your target’s name, company, and email address, so all you need to do is import them into your CRM. Since you have installed the karmaCRM chrome plugin, you just click the webclipper in the corner of your URL box, and add your target’s email address.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.20.56 PM

Once you click import, karmaCRM will add your target to your karmaCRM account along with your target’s LinkedIn profile and background.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.22.20 PM

There you have it! In thirty seconds you can find your target’s email address and have them imported directly into your karmaCRM system.

Edit: Email Hunter’s old free plan offered 250 searches per month. It now offers 200 searches per month under it’s free plan

Now over to you! What tools do you use to find your targets and make contact?


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 send cold emails your prospects will love (Template Included)

Fact #1: People do not hate cold emails or cold calls.

No… Seriously. Cold calls and cold emails can be great… if you are contacting prospects with a way to solve a problem that they are actually having.

I recently received the following email from one of the newest lead generation platforms (see


We’re both in the startup environment, so I thought it would be great to reach you with this cold email and see what happens.

What may actually happen:

  1. You stop reading now. Then… Bye and have a great day/week/whatever 😉
  2. I caught your attention for a sec and you realize I may have something interesting up my sleeve…

…cause lead gen email campaigns is what we do for a living:

I have an idea as to how you can quickly and efficiently find 500 leads per month for less than $1 per lead.

Would you be up for doing a quick brainstorm about your lead generation methods? A 15-minute call should be enough.



I responded ecstatically in about 5 seconds.

I loved getting this email because he was offering to:

  1. Solve a problem that I was having
  2. Have a conversation

At karmaCRM we have formed our own outbound email campaigns around these two rules has resulted in a reply rate of over 13% for our outbound email campaigns. Check out the following email that we crafted while targeting Real Estate Agencies.

Hi {first_name},

My name is Brandon and I’m the marketing and sales lead at karmaCRM. Your firm came up in a conversation while I was working with some other real estate firms to help them generate more referrals.

An astonishing 63% of buyers who have purchased a home in the last year have recommended their agent to another person. I have an idea as to how you can turn your current relationships into referrals by building better relationships with your clients.

I’d like to speak with the person in charge of {{company_name}}’s sales and marketing.

If that’s you, are you open to a fifteen minute brainstorm sometime this week or early next week to discuss how you get increase your referral 75% or more. If not you, can you please point me in the direction with the right person?

I appreciate the help!

Why Did it work?

1. We understood our target persona

Before you begin any outbound campaign you should have a well developed target persona. That means you need to understand the pain points that customer is experiencing and have a basic understanding of their industry.

We recently decided to target real estate agents and found that over 75% of business from real estate agents comes directly from referrals. Armed with that information we knew that Real Estate Agents were always looking for ways to increase these referral sales and were able to craft a message that targeted that specific pain.

2. We started a conversation (And never tried to sell)

In this entire email, I never once attempted to sell karmaCRM. The goal of this first email message should be simply to get a reply, and in order to get a reply, you need to start a meaningful conversation.

Within this email we provided a valuable link to a trusted outside article that drove home what they already know, that most of their clients will come from referral sources. We then gave them a small teaser of an idea that we have that will allow them to get more referral clients.

Because we were educational, conversational, and offered to share an idea, the prospect is much more compelled to reply to the email and schedule a chat about getting more clients.

Tools to help you improve

Email prospecting is a tough game, but one that can yield astonishing results. In order to start improving your outbound email outreach efforts you need to start tracking your results. You can use karmaCRM to track open rates for your email messages to help you analyze how well your campaign is doing. You can grab 250 free email addresses via linkedin using the karmaCRM webclipper and the amazing software over at Email Hunter.

Happy prospecting!

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.

Addressing our Recent Issues Head On

As many of you have become aware, karmaCRM’s contact functionality has been having a number of issues the past few days.

Stability has always been a point of emphasis with karmaCRM and we have always taken the necessary precautions when releasing updates to karmaCRM. This commitment to excellence only makes our failure this past week even more painful. Unfortunately we released an update that included a bug that our quality assurance process did not catch. This is simply unacceptable.

To ensure these kinds of failures are a thing of the past, we have doubled down on our commitment to releasing a stable, bug free product by taking immediate steps to refine both our testing process and improve our code base. This will help ensure smooth deployment of future features and a stable product.

What’s Changing?

  1. Expanding our Quality Assurance Team: This is the biggest change and will likely have the greatest impact on the end user experience. By bringing on additional quality assurance professionals, we can expand the areas we cover and double up on our ability to detect issues before they ever hit production.
  2. Adding a tiered roll out process: Instead of pushing new code to everyone all at once, we’ll be adding a tiered rollout plan that enables us to first deploy code to our internal staff, then to beta testers, then to a subset of customers. If the code passes at each stage, then we finally roll it out to everyone – smooth sailing!
  3. More automated tests: An automated test can be a developers best friend and we simply need more of them! This will help us with regression testing.

As the founder of karmaCRM, I take personal responsibility for the inconvenience these bugs have caused you and your team. We’re making the changes necessary to our process to ensure that new features and fixes become more transparent and stable from day one. I look forward to interacting with you and checking in on how close we’ve come to this goal over the next few months.

John Paul Narowski
Founder of KarmaCRM

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.