If I want to get a quick read on the current state of Sales 2.0 WebTools awareness of a potential client, I bring up RSS. Most often, RSS is one of those WebTools that you have heard about but are not sure what benefits you might receive from using it and even less likely to know how to actually set it up. Virtually every website and blog has the familiar orange RSS icon with or without “Subscribe” next to it. You will find the RSS feed for our Fill the Funnel Blog in the upper right hand corner.
Let me explain what an RSS Feed is and how to use it from the perspective of a SalesMaker. For our purposes RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way to publish and subscribe to frequently updated content like blog entries and news items over the web. Think of this as a way to assemble your own customized online newspaper with the information you have selected as important to you. There are RSS readers that work in virtually every computing platform from PC to Mac to Linux and even Mobile. If you want to receive feeds, you will need to decide on how you would like to do that. Most common approaches are to view your feed in your Browser or in your Email client. If you are an iPhone or Blackberry user you might want to consider a Mobile Client as well.
I have integrated RSS feeds and a Reader into my daily sales routine in the following way: As I do my web research, follow-up, strategy and meeting preparation, I am always on the lookout for the RSS icon. If there is useful, relevant information that I would like to keep up to date on, I click on the Icon and Subscribe to the feed. If the information I am reviewing is static, there is no need to grab the feed. Only ongoing, changing information is what I want to subscribe to. Over a period of time your collection of feeds will grow. I find it important to scrub through my list once a month or so, and delete those that have become less relevant over time. I have also found it useful to subscribe to the feeds of my major competitors. Always good to keep an eye on them as well.
At some point during the day, either from the laptop or iPhone I open my RSS reader and read through the information that has arrived. Every client that I am working with is in my feed. Some are much more active than others. Due to the ease of viewing late breaking information in this way, you are frequently learning about news that your contacts within the company are not yet aware of, nor is your competition. Mergers, executive changes, expansion, layoff plans, product announcements and financial results come across my screen daily. If your success is at least partially relationship-dependent and information-based, you should be able to gain additional insight traction into and traction with your customer.
Here is what I have found to work best for my needs:
- Windows RSS Reader: FeedDemon – You will need to download to your PC.
- Browser-Based Reader: NetVibes – Based on the web so you can get to it from any connection.
- Outgoing Feeds from Fill the Funnel: – FeedBurner Now owned by Google, you need a Google account for this.
There are hundreds of other options available and Mashable.com provides the most thorough Resource Guide that I have found titled: The Ultimate RSS Toolbox – 120+ RSS Resources. Bookmark that list and you should be good to go.
RSS feeds may give you that competitive edge and gain that next customer. Let us know how you are using RSS feeds.