Continuing on my last post…salespeople have access to a mountain of information on their prospects and customers. What’s more, this deal-accelerating content doesn’t cost a nickel. The only risk is getting trapped in a time vortex by visiting too many sites, reading too much content and finding too few gold nuggets. The only sure way to avoid the vortex is automation. Excellent paid solutions exist that address this problem; however, sales and social intelligence gathering doesn’t require a big budget. You can automate at least 50% of your intelligence gathering and monitoring processes with free tools.
The following is a 101-level guide on using common free tools to harvest information on your prospects and customers, and create alerts that will always keep you up to date. Today’s post provides an overview of Alert Solutions and Feed Readers. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or additional ideas on the subject!
1. Alert Solutions
Alerts are an important tool to help monitor clients, contacts, leads and industries in real-time. For those of you new to alerts, they often take the form of emails and are essentially automated search engine results. Google Alerts is the most commonly used alert tool. Once set up, it will send you up-to-the minute emails whenever new content appears that matches your search terms. The content could anything from news, blog posts, video, discussions and even books.
For example, if your client is SALESFORCE, you can create a general alert for the search term “SALESFORCE”. Whenever new content (like news, videos, blogs and discussions) is posted, you’ll receive an email. Now SALEFORCE is a big company, generating lots of content. To manage information flow, you may want to add more specific search terms like “SALESFORCE FINANCIAL RESULTS” or “SALESFORCE ACQUISITION”.
Types of Alerts You Can Create
Industry – Creating an alert with search terms for your industry can help you keep up to date with competitors and new companies, which can help you generate new leads.
Geographical – You can combine an industry alert with a specific geographical key word to generate leads and monitor your existing clients more accurately within your sales territory. Remember that you can use standard Google search parameters and syntax when creating Google Alerts. For example, if you need to put more than one state or province in your Alert, you would put a capitalized OR between each one (e.g., Ontario OR Quebec).
How to set up a Google Alert1. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts
2. Enter your search term(s), such as a company name, contact name or industry (just like you would in Google).
3. Select the Result Type (Everything, News, Blogs, Video, Discussions, or Books).
4. Select How Often you want to receive updates (As-it-happens, Once a day or Once a week).
5. Select How Many results you want (Only the best results or All results).
6. Select the destination for your alert, either an email address or a feed reader, such as Google Reader.7. Click “Create Alert.”
Aggregator features are often built into portal sites, Web browsers, and email programs.
Get started with RSS
- Go to the Google Reader web site and set up an account.
- Once you have an account and you log in, click on “Your Subscriptions”
- Click “Add a Feed” to add a feed you already know, such as the blog of an industry expert or feed from a trade magazine you regularly read.
- To find new sources or check information sources that you regularly read for RSS feeds, just do a Google Search and look for RSS feed buttons on the website of your search results.