I thought it might be useful to highlight some products I use on the reg for BD.
For those that aren’t familiar, Rapportive is a gmail plugin that populates social profile information attached to an email address in your inbox. It sharpens my BD blade in a variety of ways:
Context/Rapport Building – People are constantly eliciting relevant events or things they’re interested in through facebook and twitter. Rapportive helps me identify these signals which can be used to add a personal touch to an email.
For example, if someone was writing me an email right now, rapportive might inform them that Mashable just covered the newest release of the YP App and the extension of our partnership. This is news they might have otherwise missed.
They can take this and start an email with “Hey Scott – Congrats, I see you guys are now powering itemized search on the YP App. That’s awesome.” instead of “Hey Scott – Enter impersonal hope all is well.”
Finding Emails – Inserting popular email syntaxes until you’re returned social profiles is one way to determine someone’s email address. I outline this and other ways you can find anyone’s email address in full here.
Reverse Lookup – Ever get an email and have no idea who on earth that person is and whether they’re request is actually relevant? Rapportive helps me trace these people back to their social profiles providing context to move forward accordingly.
As an email warrior, one of the most important things you can do is followup. Staying on top of you’re hitlist is a great place to start, but I like to take extra precautions by using FollowUp.cc.
It’s pretty simple. In the BCC field, you enter the following syntax “email@example.com” and an actionable reminder will be pinged back to you in the given time period.
If I entered firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d receive this email in 4 days which acts as a trigger to me following up if neccesary.
I add these reminder notices to any email I deem important that requires a response. Not only does this keep me accountable to following up on a air-tight schedule, but it also makes the process much more efficient. Instead ofhaving to look through my hit list and identify who I need to follow up with, it automates the process. I still look over and update my hitlist in tandem – it has just become the 2nd line of defense which is very valuable as your funnel scales.
I also use FollowUp to send personal reminders. If I know I need to pick up my dry-cleaning on Thursday I’ll just send myself an email cc’ing Thursday@followup.cc with Laundry in the subject line. I live in my inbox so funneling reminders there at actionable time intervals has proven to be very effective.
Fact: There are bad times to email people. If I’m trying to get a hold of someone, shooting them an email at 6:30 on a Friday is probably a bad call.
Enter Boomerang for Gmail. Boomerang allows me to schedule emails to be sent in the future. With this I can optimize outbound emails around the time windows that I think are most effective. Por ejemplo, if Tuesday at 10am is when I believe the optimal response rate will be, I can write 20 emails on Sunday night and they will sent on Tuesday morning. This is super useful and allows me to be productive during hours that would otherwise be less than ideal.
Note Boomerang also has some similar reminder functionality to FollowUp. I think FollowUp is more lightweight though and my buddy Chris built it.
Staying on Top of People Talking About My Company – Nuff said.
Staying on Top of Companies in My Pipeline – Good BDers build rapport. One way to do this is identifying touchpoints you can use to stimulate conversation and cultivate a deeper relationship. Events or news about a company is an excellent touchpoint to build rapport. I’ve contracted GoogleAlerts as the search party to help me identify these opportunities efficiently.
For companies that I want to get a deal done with I’ve set up google alerts for the company name. This helps me stay on top of what’s going on as well as how I may be able to help as their needs evolve.
To be honest, for every 25 pieces of irrelevant news, there may be one thing that’s important which is why you might want to limit this to big game hunting. But that one thing just might be the point of contact that revives a lead that’s gone silent or pushes a deal over the edge and it’s my job to seize these opportunities
Again, effective BD people recognize the value of rapport.
I’m about to reveal some potentially shocking news….people on the other end of the conversation have interests just like you do. Identifying, understanding, and engaging with these interests is an excellent way to build rapport. Monitoring people on twitter is a great way to accomplish this. To manage this, I create twitter lists for the people that I’m speaking with and approaching. The goal is to to learn about these people and their needs. I use tweetdeck to monitor this list and engage in continual learning/actively seek out opportunities that I can help.
You’ll want to create a column of who is tweeting at your company as well. Captain obvious strikes again!
Job Change Notifier
Managing your professional network is a beast, but it’s really important. Maybe your contact just left a company you’ve been trying to do a deal with. Maybe someone you know just started at a company you’ve been talking to and can help push something through. JobChangeNotifier is one tool to stay abreast of this type of information. It’s pretty simple. Every few days it sends you an email if people in your network change jobs or their headlines on LinkedIn.
In addition to providing relevant color on your business contacts, this is also a really fun way to see the people that maniacally fret over their professional headlines and change them weekly. It’s hard not to smile when someone goes from Chief Ninja Officer to Chief Ninja and Product Samarai. How come Pirates never get any love?
Google Docs + Google Reader
I use a google spreadsheet to manage my pipeline and google reader to stay on top of relevant industry publications. Nothing too fancy here.
One less obvious practice is to add the corporate blogs of all potential competitors and companies in your pipeline. Great way to stay informed and keep a pulse on the parties you need to.
*I’m leaving out LinkedIn because I spend enough time with her as is and our relationship has been out in the open for awhile now.
These are some of the more sharper arrows in my BD quiver. I’d love to hear any other tools people use to be effective. Please feel free to share in the comments