Preach What We Practice

The seventh installment of our new blog series, “Preach what we Practice” where we’ll give fellow small business owners a back-stage pass to how we do business. This week and next I’m digging into our sales tools.

– Nate –

B2B Sales Tools Pairings

To be clear, no single sales tool will make your work that much easier or more effective. It’s how you combine your tools, skill-set and personality. ALL of the tools we use are designed to inject more humanity into our outreach efforts, not less.

Nate with Phone

Yes, folks, that's an aura. My calls are *that* good
Yes, folks, that’s an aura. My calls are *that* good

One of the best bits of advice I gained on running a small business came from an interview with copywriter Dean Rieck, “When the phone rings … I answer it. That’s it.” When you obsess over how to help your clients, they will reward you with referrals, and questions, and projects, and sometimes even great advice (and occasionally unwanted advice).

When the phone rings … I answer it.

I use an Samsung S3 with a handful of apps. I have LinkedIn which is synced with my Google “On Phone” Contacts and the stock copy of Gmail. Beyond that I just use it to make phone calls, and text messages for those brave few clients who only communicate by text. C’mon, you know who you are 😉

Now, I’ve gotten a lot of push-back from seasoned business owners claiming, “If I give all of my clients direct access to me, I wouldn’t get anything done!” But when your business is focused on helping other businesses, it’s a must.

What’s the point of having a small business if you behave like a big business. The whole point of working with a small biz is accessibility to the boss. At least that’s why I like working with them.


Gmail with Rapportive

rapportive screenshotNext to phone calls, email is the linchpin of our business. We use it to sell and we sell it to help owners sell. I like using Gmail with Rapportive because seeing the face of the person your contacting humanizes them, which can only help. Also, when you are juggling a ton of clients and prospects, it helps to keep things straight. Most of the time Rapportive will pluck their current job title via the LinkedIn API, which is a helpful bit of info for adjusting your approach.

Check out a screenshot of Rapportive in my Gmail (click to enlarge). That’s my favorite design guru Austin Martin, who designed our new logo last summer.


Highrise with MailChimp

My favorite feature of Highrise is the BCC feature. I BCC my Highrise email on *all* of my client/prospect communications and (if the contact is in the database already) it will be automatically tracked in the client record – here’s a screenshot. Keeping close tabs on previous conversations, is critical to keeping your sales correspondence human.

And MailChimp? We are obviously huge proponents of the platform, and are constantly seeking ways to further personalize our email campaigns. Lately, we’ve been tagging our contacts by industry and status (i.e. TAGS: Designer, Vendor, SBT Prospect), and importing those emails directly into the appropriate group in MailChimp. Here’s a screenshot of that feature. Shoveling contacts by category / sub-category is a weekly habit that has been paying dividends recently.

We’ll continue covering these two tools in much greater detail in future installments in the Preach What We Practice series.


LinkedIn with Ecquire

click image to expand
click image to expand

Confession time. I *hate* the administrative side of selling. Having spent time in corporate B2B sales pits dialing for dollars, I’ve experienced first-hand the pains of poor documentation. 2 hours of calling followed by 3 hours of logging contacts in Salesforce – not fun. But the ‘joys’ of a co-worker inadvertently calling your top prospect with a misinformed pitch – $%&%^ AWFUL.

Now that I’m running my own business, I have begun getting creative with tracking down tools that save time without automating parts of the process that need to stay human. Ecquire is a cool little company that builds integration tools. My current favorite is their LinkedIn tool. Here’s how I use it:

  1. I connect with someone on LinkedIn
  2. They accept, and I cruise over to their profile.
  3. I click the little orange button and POW out pops a cool little sidebar of the data the tool scraped from their profile.
  4. After a quick review, and addition of relevant tags (in this case: Designer, Vendor, SBT Client), I click “Submit to Highrise”. DONE.

No copy/pasting nonsense. It will even detect if you already have their profile loaded in Highrise, and allow you to update it. And in the spirit of keeping things human, you can also create a follow-up task for that person, so your digital exchange via LinkedIn can be converted into a human response.


WordPress with ScheduleOnce

Jon Lee Dumas the podcasting pro over at introduced me to ScheduleOnce a few months ago. An amazing tool, that automates one of the more annoying parts of the sales process – scheduling meetings. This tool syncs up with my Google Calendar, and compares it to a manually inputted availability schedule.

I scheduled a call with one of their co-founders in Israel, and he took Seth &  me through the setup of allowing prospects to schedule a meeting that checks the availability on both of our calendars. Incredible service, and an incredible feature.

At only $19 / month, it will likely end up on my Best of 2013 post this December. Reason – it uses the best combination of technology to leapfrog over digital steps, and carve out time for a real-time human connection.

Check it out embedded on our WordPress site here – and hell, schedule a call with me while you’re at it. I’m sure you have a few small biz questions that need answering.


Google Calendar with Google Hangouts

We use Google Hangouts for the majority of our remote training calls due to its cost (free) and dual shared screen feature. And recently, we’ve been using it on sales calls, especially when there is a website review or re-brand being discussed. That, and I have the ‘fun’ little habit of gesturing wildly during presentations – why rob my prospects the entertainment value?

 click image to zoom

So next time you creating a Google Calendar Invite, skip the phone number and create a video link – I would recommend telling your client in the invite that they should click on that link (which is embedded in the item and the email invitation) for the call, since it’s still a fairly new concept to most.

That’s it for now.


Starting this Fall, we’ll be sharing our favorite templates, check-lists, tutorials, etc… to our email subscribers. That includes everything from marketing checklists to finance spreadsheets to comprehensive how-to guides for tools such as CutePDF, and sales funnels. Currently in Beta.  Sign-up here to be notified of the public release.