In ye olden days business leads were something that might emerge from contacts whom you had met in person at least once. Even if your leads had come via a phone call from a potential customer you at least had the opportunity to find out a little bit of background in your new contact, allowing you to spend a bit of time carefully formulating your response.
When enquiries arrive by email or through forms on your website the start of the conversation is one-sided: your potential new best friend has stated their case and the clock is already ticking while they wait for a reply. If the email address they used is a corporate address (E.G. firstname.lastname@example.org) then you can safely assume you can find out at least a little bit about how exciting this prospect is by looking at their company website. If they email from a generic or personal email address how can you find out some background? If the sender has given their full name you might be able to Google them, although this is a potentially time-consuming task, especially if they have a name like John Smith.
Social knowledge is power.
Given enough time it’s possible to research your new client by searching for them on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Google+. Social media can reveal a lot of fascinating and useful information that can help you reply in a personal, genial and (of course) commercially advantageous manner. This is in no way underhanded, or to be considered ‘snooping’; information made public by customers is information they have chosen to make available to the world.
If you’re a Gmail user there’s an incredibly simple way of getting this background information on prospects automatically, with zero effort required. If you use Chrome or Firefox to access Gmail installing the Rapportive add-on / extension will rock your social world. Once you have installed Rapportive (and logged in through it to your social networks) a new sidebar will appear on the right hand side of the Gmail website (potentially replacing the adverts). When reading an email this new sidebar will search the social networks and display the latest information it finds.
How does this social intelligence work in practice?
So once Rapportive is installed and you’re reading an email from a potential new customer a glance at the side of your screen will show you what they’ve been talking about on Twitter, who they’ve been interacting with on Google+ and their latest Facebook activity. Rapportive also displays your contacts Linked In information, and this is the aspect that we’ve found most useful. When we have replied to a new prospect we click the follow and connect buttons that Rapportive displays to strengthen our connection with our new friends.
When emails come through from the forms on our website sometimes folk only tell us their first name, but as long as they’ve entered their email address correctly the Rapportive sidebar will give us their full name and sometimes their full contact details.
The number of social networks that Rapportive supports is growing all the time, and this is a FREE service! Find out more at Rapportive.com