As a startup we are always looking for tools that help us to be most effective while we are small and focused on growth. A major part of my role is communicating with a large number of potential partners and customers from universities, businesses and the government to communicate what RidePost can do for them and bring them into the family. Forming and managing these relationships is hugely important and over time I have found tools that have made my life immensely easier. I hope that you can find them beneficial as well.
This was a recent find for me but has been great. Rapportive is a free Gmail add-on for most major browsers (sorry Internet Explorer, but you suck). When you receive an email it pulls in relevant data from the Internet about the contact so you can see what they look like, where they are based, their work information as well as their activity on networks such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. It has allowed me to get much more context about the people I am communicating with and to immediately connect with them on their multiple networks. Plus its free – GET IT.
Pro Tip: When trying to cold email a contact and you are unsure of their exact email address, enter in all your possibilities. By hovering over the addresses, Rapportive will show you the profile of the correct address.
This is another add-on for Gmail in most browsers. Boomerang has two great features that I use religiously:
Send Later – Sometimes, I find myself cranking out messages in the middle of the night or on the weekend but I want to my recipients to receive at more optimal times. You can specify Boomerang to deliver the message at a certain date and time and it will sit in your drafts until its time to go.
Boomerang – A lot of early communication is knowing when to follow up with your contacts. People are busy and sometimes they notice your email but forget to get back to you. Boomerang’s naming feature allows you to get a reminder in your inbox after a specified period of time if your contact did not respond to your message. This has allowed me to send timely reminders to new contacts usually leading to immediate responses rather than them dropping off the face of the earth.
As a startup, we need streamlined customer and contact management tools that won’t cost an arm and a leg, or be weighed down by features we won’t ever use. Contactually has been the best tool to date. It attaches to your email account and imports all your contacts. You can then sort your contacts into “buckets” depending on the relationship you have with them and how often you want to maintain communication. They have a fun keyboard Bucket Game that allows you to quickly power through your contacts for sorting. After that they will send you routine reminders about who you should contact that day or week and give you statistics about your success in doing so.
They have a good trial program that allows you to test the features and their price point is great compared to other CRM tools. Plus they are a DC company run by some really cool folks – they’ll be adding new and improved features over time.
Sometimes your biggest challenge is figuring out who you should even contact in the first place. I know everyone has heard of LinkedIn, but I think most people dont realize how useful it can be. Most business professionals have a profile on there so at the bare minimum, you can find if you have some common ground with your potential contact or have someone who can introduce you. Also, their advanced search is pretty solid about finding individuals from a given company, industry or alumni network.
Don’t be afraid to request to connect with someone in order to communicate with them further. Several times a year they also offer a free month to their premium plan so you can test it out before you buy.
Pro Tip: If you are on the free plan, use the short blurb space on the connect screen to let the person know why you are reaching out to them. I have been able to get access to people outside of my network by doing this and characterizing them as a Colleague in my current company (but keep it short and sweet!).
When you find great contacts as a startup, you can’t afford to be everywhere all the time. For me it was crucial to find ways to engage people and pitch RidePost, even if we could not be there in person. I looked at the whole range of web conference and presentation tools and found ClickMeeting. Their User Interface is slick, they have presentation and document sharing tools, customizable templates to maintain your branding, audio and video worked with no problems, and the attendees for your web meetings do not have to download anything to make it work.
Try out their free trial to see if it will work for you. Even after that, their price points are immensely friendlier than other providers like GoToMeeting.
So these are my 5 primary tools to help you with sales and business development. Hope that you can find them as useful as I do! What tools do you use? Let me know in the coments!