The Sales “Listening Station”!

by Paul Castain on October 6, 2010

There are 3 huge mistakes I see aspiring sales rock stars make:

1)    They limit their Pre Call Planning research  to the early stages of the courtship  and abandon it altogether once the “marriage takes place”. Actually most abandon the research after they get to “first base” with a prospect. Big mistake! Things change dude!

2)    They fail to include Social Media in their Pre Call Planning Research.

3)    They don’t keep tabs on their company’s virtual reputation.

Today, I’m going to rip off a concept that Chris Brogan talks about in his Trust Agents book. I’ve modified the concept for sales and added a cool resource that’s served me well.

Presenting . . .

The Sales “Listening Station”


The Sales “Listening Station” is a way for you to keep your finger on the pulse without clogging your inbox and without dropping a dime in technology.

Warning: If you’re like me, your technical side of the brain has tumble weeds blowing around and you might want to resist trying this. You’re going to need to resist that urge and invest the time to become lethal!

Seriously dude . . . you’ll thank me for it later! :)

Note: I can hear the software people out there saying “If they bought our software, they wouldn’t have to go through these steps” To that I offer a sincere “CORRECTAMUNDO” but this is the “Free” version and most companies like for us to cut our teeth on “Free”!

Step 1: Go to Google Reader by clicking here

Step 2: Set up an account (free)

Note: You’ve just set up a Google Reader account. This is going to be your listening station . . . that is, one central place where all the cool info you are going to collect will now rest. This way, it doesn’t clog your inbox and you don’t have to go looking all over the place for it. You’re welcome!

Step 3: Go to Google Alerts by clicking here:   http://www.google.com/alerts You’ll want to plug in the name of the company you are targeting/servicing as well as your contact name and what the hell, plug in the names of the key players at that company. Now in the alert box is the option of how you want to receive the alert. Select feed so that it goes to your listening station and not your inbox.

Before you leave, you’ll want to plug in your company name, your name and if you want to kiss some of the ass located higher up the corporate food chain, plug their names in too. Why? How dumb would you feel if a prospect knew more about a late breaking story (about your company) than you did?

Step 4: Go to http://socialmention.com . This is basically a search engine that searches blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Many reps miss this part of the research and they miss critical data. How cool would it be if you discovered that your prospect/client blogged? Think they ever say some things that might help you understand them and even (dare I say) provide you with cool clues to help you connect? With this search engine, you have a good chance of finding them on Twitter or have a “listen” to what they are talking about on their Facebook Fan Page.

It would absolutely blow your mind what people are willing to share in their blog, Twitter etc!

Any who, once you go to this site, use the same search criteria as you did in Step 3. Once the results come back, you’ll notice on the right hand side that there is an option to click on “RSS” so click on it sister! Once you do this, it will now go to your listening station.

Note: You  can amaze people with a timely thank you when they mention you and even jump in quickly when the chatter isn’t so pleasant about your company. Yep . . . that can happen too! :(

Step 5: Go to your prospect’s/client’s website and click on the news tab. If there is an RSS feed option, click on that bad boy so your listening station tunes the heck in. If they have a company blog, get the RSS feed for that too!

Step 6: Check in once or twice a day with your listening station by going back to your Google Reader account and viola you are a sales listening station wielding MOFO!

And that’s it for now. There are certainly other things you can listen for, but this is enough work to keep you out of trouble for a bit.

So here’s what you’ve accomplished:

You now have a way of staying in the know with regard to:

Your prospects and clients

Your contacts within those accounts

Key players at those accounts

Your company

You

This is going to help you because over time, you’ll know what things to listen for and how you can leverage them!

This handy dandy “listening station” will also keep you from getting sloppy! We need to continually remind ourselves that business moves at the speed of light and to that end, something, somewhere has changed even in the short time you’ve spent reading this.

With that in mind . . .

Don’t you ever, ever EVER, research once and call it good!

Have you picked up a copy of Paul’s Social Networking E-Book yet? Click here to find out how you can become the proud owner right quick!


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  • http://www.printerstrader.com @SandyHubbard

    Good grief, Paul. All I can say is I hope my competition isn’t reading this! These are EXCELLENT easy-to-follow steps for any sales manager to pass along to his or her team. Your explanation is a lot better than my litany of “blah, Google Alerts, blah, RSS feeds, blah, twitter saved searches, blah, etc.”

  • http://www.yoursalesplaybook.com/ Paul Castain

    @ Sandy Hubbard: You are too kind Ms Hubbard :)

    Thanks for stopping by and most of all, for your continued encouragement!

    Rock on!

    Paul

  • Michael Grandinetti

    What’s up ROCK STAR, thanks for the great information. Started searching everyone and everthing this could keep me busy for a while. Already found a few great blogs about some very seemingly stiff people I market to and just got invited to a BBQ nextweek. Does it get any better. Well I guess I need to pull my toes out of the sand a get my day started.

    Have a great day!!!

    Mike Grandinetti

  • Marlene

    I was on a sales call yesterday that talked about Staying Relevant with your client and I have to say I ended up totally overwhelmed. Who has time to look up all that stuff and do calls and meet with your clients, do proposals. etc….
    Thank you for stopping my head from swimming and providing a life jacket. Funny how timely this was.

  • http://www.thesaleslion.com Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

    Wonderful strategy P’. It’s crazy when one compares what we can know about a company today to what we were limited to just 5 or 10 years ago. Talk about ability to do research, social web has revolutionized this…..really amazing when one thinks about it.

    Great tips, as always, P’. :-)

  • Doug Cline

    Paul,

    Thanks for making the understanding and utilizing of these new social mediums somewhat easier to follow. I am an older dog trying to keep up with the younger dogs’ technology. Thanks from one aspiring rock star to another.

    Doug Cline

  • http://www.yoursalesplaybook.com/ Paul Castain

    @ Michael : That’s what I’m talkin ’bout! Kudos to you for trying something different!

    @ Marlene: I know that feeling all too well. I like the nice easy to understand solutions. Once this stuff goes too technical I go off on an outer body experience! :)

    @ Marcus: So true and I remember the days when the research consisted of a directory at the library! Damn I’m old!

    @ Doug: Always a pleasure my friend!

    Thank you all for taking the time to stop by and contribute!

    Paul Castain

  • http://www.pmgraphics.com Paul McGhee

    Paul,

    I just wanted to Thank you as well! I have always believed in building relationships in sales and this is going to help me do that and still have a life! Leveraging the internet in this way always seemed just to daunting to someone who is the aspiring rock star and not the aspiring technology guy.

    Thanks Again!

    Paul McGhee

  • http://www.gracebroadcast.com Heather Schwartz

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks very much for all the helpful tips!

    Have a great rest of the week!

    ~Heather

  • Mandi Constantino

    I recently joined this site and I am so happy I did. I am new to the world of sales and the tips I have received from this site have been awesome. Thanks for the information and keep it coming.

    Dare to be different…

    ~Mandi

  • http://www.BuildingTourismExcellence.com LA Palamar

    awesome tips Paul. Thanks a bunch. I’ll be incorporating this into my workshops – I think my clients will love it! After all, the problem these days isn’t information overload, it’s filter failure. (not my words – someone elses, aaargh, can’t remember where I learned that)
    LA

  • http://www.WindingStaircaseLLC.com Jeremy Powers

    Paul – Good advice. Some of the best (simplest) set-ups I have seen for online monitoring are from Brogan’s “Trust Agents” and Janstch’s “Referral Engine.”

    I do want to add one thing. My, admittedly brief, experience in working with small businesses has lead me to realize owners and account management can rely too much on these “listening stations” once they are set-up. Don’t forget to actually talk with your clients, and when you do LISTEN.

    I stumbled on this site this week. I am enjoying it!

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  • http://twitter.com/perramond Marc Perramond

    Preaching to the choir here at @insideview:twitter   We love it.  And we love helping people that get overwhelmed by Google Alerts (hard not to).

    Happy selling!
    -marc

  • John McCormick

    Great post Paul – but as you mentioned: “I can hear the software people out there saying “If they bought our software, they wouldn’t have to go through these steps” To that I offer a sincere “CORRECTAMUNDO” but this is the “Free” version and most companies like for us to cut our teeth on “Free””

    Anyone who wants to try out InsideView’s full Team application for free for 2 months, please feel free to reach out to me and mention this post.

    john.mccormick@insideview.com

    http://www.insideview.com.com

  • Jabba

    Very Cool Paul, you give so much, that is why you are the best at what you do.     

  • Cindy

    Thank you Paul. You capture my Sales Mind which is at this time of night all over the place!!! I love that you educate and share every day! Thank you.

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    You made my day Cindy . . . Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time our of your evening to comment!

    Rock on!

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