Kyle Porter is the CEO of SalesLoft, Sales Intelligence
This month Google announced the upcoming death of their RSS product Google Reader. This is bad news for sales professionals everywhere because Google Reader was one of the easiest and most effective tools for researching your customers and prospects. Google reader made gathering sales intelligence simple because it curated content from the blogs and websites you followed into one simple and easy to read news feed.
It’s gone now, but don’t fret.
There are many tools on the web to help you automate your research and provide you with the latest news and alerts on your most valued targets. This information will not only help you build more trust and rapport, but will make sales a lot easier. Here are some of the tools and methodologies I recommend:
Get a New RSS Reader
Out with the old and in with the new. Most web sources have Feedly pinned as the big winner now that Google Reader is gone. They offer simple ways to get started and to move your feeds over. Pulse is another favored service and it is rumored to have been Steve Jobs’ favorite. Lastly, The Old Reader is quickly becoming a cult-favorite. Whatever you do, it’s worth getting more familiar with RSS. Staying plugged into what your prospects are doing will help your sales skills soar to new heights.
This Google product still exists, and it’s great for sales professionals. Create Google Alerts and get a notification whenever a news article is published about industry terms, company names, products or competitors you are interested in. It’s simple to export the alert as RSS and dump it right into your new RSS reader.
Twitter Private Lists
For your most important clients, prospects, and industry experts, you can never go wrong by following them with a private Twitter list. This will allow you to see just what they are up to without being inundated by your entire stream. Choose wisely and keep the stream count to a minimum. We recommend following around 40 accounts to get the most value from Twitter private lists.
The software industry has listened to the needs of sales professionals and is building helpful tools for the sales pro. Later this year, salesforce.com is planning to release their Social Key product that will offer real-time news and alerts on your prospects right inside of your CRM. Other sales intelligence software companies are building apps to automate your sales research to help speed up sales cycles and close more deals.
Prospect Blogs & News Feeds
What better way to learn about your interests than hearing it directly from the source? HubSpot reports that in 2012, that over 62% of companies were blogging. All you have to do is copy your prospect’s blog link and drop it in your new RSS reader. It’s just that simple. Do the same thing with your prospect’s news or PR site. By following their updates in real-time, you’ll bring yourself closer to your prospects and make both of your roles in the sales process easier.
LinkedIn Company Follow
The professional social network is becoming a content sharing platform. But don’t think about it from the perspective of just what you can say, think about what you can hear and learn. Add your prospects and clients as well. It’s a simple way to capture the info these companies are posting on the web.
Free Social Tools
There are a handful of awesome apps on the marketplace that help automate research and are free to use. We’ll walk you through three: 1) Newsle which delivers alerts when the people you follow on LinkedIn are mentioned in the news. 2) Job Change Alerts. This sales productivity tool is a simple way to find out when any of the people in your LinkedIn network change their headline or title. 3) NutshellMail app allows you to get a daily email monitoring keyword hits in and lists in Twitter and LinkedIn. All of these tools are super simple to sign up for and will go a long way in helping you automate your research.
Research is a fundamental piece of effective selling. It helps you as the seller earn trust and rapport, and gives you the power to make your buyer’s decision simple. Use the tools above and don’t hesitate to post in the comments below any others you’ve found that help you speed up research and stay sharp to your cause.