11+ Edgy Tools to Turn Outlook Into the Ultimate Selling Platform
Having edgy conversations and closing big deals isn't all about just waking up and throwing around energy.
Frankly, the tools you use (or don't use yet) can be a tremendous asset for you being able to have conversations that are different than the tired, old "please buy from me" nonsense that you might be used to.
Let's take it one step further.
If you're sending emails, then you are probably using Microsoft Outlook. It's the "mama grizzly" of sales conversations. In fact, on a given day, you probably spend more time in Outlook than doing any other thing.
So what if you could plug in a few different edgy tools and walk away with a world-class selling system?
Here are are few tools you might want to consider:
1. Social Connector (link)
Social Connector comes directly from Microsoft and is a huge improvement to the overall experience. If you do nothing else at all to enhance your email conversation experience, you need to grab this plugin.
The connector sits at the bottom of your Outlook message window and shows you how you relate to the person emailing you. You can expand or collapse the window to set up how much information you want to see. Fully expanded, you see shared calendar events, other email threads you've shared, attachments you've been sent, and their activity on a bunch of social networks.
And if you're not connected to the sender on Facebook or Linkedin, you can do that in one click. It's a "must have".
2. Instant Conference (link)
Conference calls are a "necessary evil" of doing business. Getting people on the phone and coordinating dates-and-times can be an annoying hassle that serves more like a distraction than progress moving forward. The Instant Conference plugin makes that process a whole lot easier. (It's a technology I wrote about a few months ago in more detail, right here.)
The plugin allows you to create a conference call with a single click and then email phone numbers to everybody involved. It's fast. It's simple. It's a great way to keep business moving in the right direction.
3. ClearContext (link)
ClearContext provides a second brain for staying on top of all the email that you receive. It let's you create projects that you can use to categorize ongoing conversations as they arrive.
A really cool feature in the ClearContext sidebar let's you quickly turn emails into appointment or tasks with one click of the mouse. And the automatic task tracking keeps you up to date on what you need to be working on at the moment.
Finally, there is the ability to set up automatic follow-up tracking so that you can be reminded if you don't recive a timely reponse to an email that you sent. Killer!
4. Liaise (link)
Instead of forcing you to remember all those "email promises" you tend to let casually get out of control, Liaise automatically captures, organizes and prioritizes action items buried in your email. (It's an "edgy technology", I wrote about earlier, right here)
As you type emails, Liaise understands key action words that you are using and suggests that they be saved to a task list with corresponding reminders. A special communications sidebar in Outlook is home to all tasks that you are monitoring are working towards completion.
You can get all your tasks (and corresponding notes) delivered to you daily or just ahead of the meeting that you are stepping into. It is "hands down" the best way to stay organized.
5. Xobni (link)
Xobni adds even more social dynamite to what you might find adding Microsoft's Social Connector. It's the most popular Outlook plugin of all time and for good reason. Xobni indexes all your email and provides you faster messaging retrieval than the built in searching that Outlook presents.
And more than just the Facebook and LinkedIn data that you get with Social Connector, Xobni adds Hoovers, Salesforce, Twitter, Xing, and even Sharepoint connection data. As well, Xobni grabs all the people emailing you and tries to build an address book of names, email addresses, and phone numbers. It easily syncs to your Blackberry for anywhere access to all your important relationships.
It's free to get started and their premium products are something that you will easily get addicted to.
6. Meshin (link)
Meshin tries to help provide "meaning" to all the information in your inbox. In the sidebar next to your messages, Meshin links messages to relevant content. It might be other information within other email messages or attachments, data from social networks or websites, even databases on the internet.
As you hover over different parts of the Meshin dashboard, a series of "pop out" windows display key information that makes your messages even more relevent. As well, Meshin creates information profiles for each person and company found in your inbox.
It's semantic search for email and a great tool from Xerox' "super secret" laboratories.
7. Lookeen (link)
Lookeen does one thing very, very well -- finding missing emails. It not only searches through the emails you have stored on your local computer, it retrieves messages you might have archived as your email folders got bigger and bigger.
In fact (and on slightly more nerdy front), if you have a .PST file (Outlook's file format for storing large amounts of email), you can simply point Lookeen at the file and watch as you get back blazing fast answers.
One more thing -- it also stores all your attachments. So you never need to lose another last-minute presentation.
8. YouSendIt (link)
YouSendIt helps you deliver large attachments that Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server won't let you send. As you have probably already experienced, you are limited to around 10MB per email. And once you get around 6MB in size, emails start slowing down your inbox considerably.
The plugin from YouSendIt could not be easier. You just point it to a large file that you want to share and and indicate who should know about it and that's it. YouSendIt uploads your content to their secure servers and notifies everyone involved. You know when your contacts download your data and bypass the drama of having your tech guys put together an FTP server on a late Friday afternoon.
9. Boomerang (link)
Work through emails on your timeline with Boomerang. Time delayed distraction. If you are a Getting-Things-Done advocate this application eill keep you on point and moving dangerously efficiently.
Right click on an email message and Boomerang provides you the option of noting when you want to start dealing with it -- tomorrow, next week. maybe "never". Once you chose, the email disappears. Boomerang returns it to your inbox, flagged for follow-up, exactly when you told it earlier you had time to start working on that task.
10 Gist (link)
Gist is the ultimate social customer relationship management platform. Their enterprise web platform helps you put together a "people profile" on your customers. And their Outlook plugin brings that right to your message window.
Similar to Xobni and Microsoft's Social Connector, you can see past conversation threads, company data, and recent appointments and tasks involving that person. It's a super way to nurture relationships because it not only includes the past, but it also adds recent tweets and RSS feeds about that person.
Gist is changing the landscape for salespeople who rely on relationships to get business done. Adding it to your Outlook instance makes your conversations much more powerful.
11. PlanPlus (link)
For many years Franklin Covey was the de facto standard for "business organization". Their software package, PlanPlus, is now on version seven and adds a bunch of enhancements to your Outlook calendar.
You can view all your email, tasks, notes, and calendar windows all on the same screen view. That allows you to do things like drag an email to your task window to instantly create a "to-do" item or break down a project in your task window into a series of appointments that appear in y0ur calendar.
And if you are a Blackberry user, they have some neat new applications that help you manage your schedule while you are away from your desktop.
Bonus: IntroMojo (link)
IntroMojo is a great way to learn about somebody before you ever send that first email. Since you have the email address and know where they work, you can go to the IntroMojo search platform and find out answers to specific sales questions. What music do they enjoy? What are they doing? What are they talking about?
You search. IntroMojo finds...
Pick one or two or all of these edgy tools and get started selling better.
By the way, did I miss one? Is there an edgy tool that you think makes Outlook the ultimate selling platform.
Leave your suggestions in the comments.
(Disclaimer: I own a lot more equity in IntroMojo than you do. Should you retweet this post to eager sales managers, I stand to make loads of money.)