As sales trainers, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to get sales reps to do the right thing. But sometimes the solution isn’t training, but a tool.
Take call planning and preparation, for example. Salespeople know the value of doing your homework before you meet with a prospect or pick up the telephone. Before you talk to a prospect for the first time, wouldn’t it be helpful to know that she’s been in her current job for five years, worked at Microsoft before that, and has written and produced three plays in her spare time? And with all the information that’s out there on the Internet, there’s really no excuse for not knowing those things.
The problem, of course, is time. Gathering this information takes time, and it’s not like most salespeople have an assistant who can hand them a dossier on the customer before every meeting or phone call. So busy salespeople take shortcuts. They engage in customer conversations they haven’t prepared for, and try to get by on their gift of gab.
Tell me more about me
I was intrigued not too long ago when I got an e-mail from a reader by the name of Aaron Frazin, who heads a startup called Charlie. He’d read my recent post on call preparation (gee, I was liking the guy already) and wanted to tell me about their new app.
But what most piqued my interest was, not surprisingly, reading about myself. Aaron mentioned that I:
- Had written 10 books
- Am interested in health care
- Speak Spanish
- And live in Philadelphia but used to live in Florida for school.
I had a pretty good idea where Aaron had learned all this about me, but I was impressed that he’d done his homework (though I must admit that my Spanish skills are really rusty). And because I’m so interested in me, I e-mailed Aaron back — hoping, perhaps, that he’d tell me more things about me!
This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that helps salespeople rise above the crowd and connect with prospects. Aaron and I had a long chat on the phone, discovered some mutual connections, and here I am blogging about his app, which I think is pretty cool. So his approach clearly works.
In a nutshell, it links to your calendar (it’s designed to work with Google Calendar, but an Outlook version is in beta and the company will help you get hooked up). It looks at your calendar to see who you’ll be talking to, and five minutes before your phone call or meeting, it automatically e-mails you a short dossier on that person.
Aaron explained that he started in sales when he was a teenager. He offered Web design services, and because he didn’t want clients to know he was a kid, did his prospecting and closing on the phone. He soon realized the value of researching his prospects online before the call, but it took forever. He looked for an app that could automate the task and couldn’t find one, so he built it. The project got off the ground as part of DreamItVentures, a Philadelphia tech accelerator that provided seed money and advice.
Charlie claims about 25,000 users and has some big-name companies on its client list, including Salesforce, HootSuite, Yelp and Twitter. You can learn more, and try it out for free, at charlieapp.com.
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