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
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!