My Best Short-List of Digital Sales Prospecting Tools

What tools do most of my best (most productive) students use when prospecting? Glad you asked. Here’s the skinny on “top picks” that have been crash-tested by me, my team and my customers … soloprenurs and sales reps from large corporate teams.

Email, Mobile and Social Media Marketing: Lessons from top-performing B-to-B and B-to-C brandsWhat tools do most of my best (most productive) students use when prospecting? Glad you asked. Here’s the skinny on “top picks” that have been crash-tested by me, my team and my customers … soloprenurs and sales reps from large corporate teams.

These aren’t the coolest tools. Instead, these are vetted products and services that seem to be used by top-performing sales people and entrepreneurs. Do you and/or your team work virtually? Get ready for the goods.

Email Open/Download Tracking and Scheduling

Don’t know your email open rate when sending cold prospecting messages? You’re flying blind. It’s impossible to judge effectiveness of your message without first knowing your subject line is effective.

If you aren’t being opened, your message isn’t getting read. Many of my students report 40 percent and even 75 percent open rates. Sound impossible? It’s not. But you’ve got to get out-of-the-box, get creative … take risks.

To understand email open rates, Mac (Apple Mail) users seem to prefer MailButler. For non-Mac heads, Boomerang for Gmail is a strong option, especially for businesses who allow Google to host their email via G-Suite.

MixMax and SalesHandy are two newcomers who are pushing beyond the usual functionality of Gmail/G-Suite plugins. My team and I use MixMax. These tools offer a wide (and growing) array of simple functions vital to your digital prospecting success. These include email:

  • Reminders (return to top of inbox on certain date based on recipient action taken)
  • Scheduling of message delivery at specified time
  • Template storage and message insertion
  • Open tracking and notifications (showing real-time, location and device type)
  • Download notifications (showing when prospects open your attachments and links)
  • Message sequencing (based on a pre-defined or on-the-fly cadence you use)

Need to integrate with your CRM of choice? No problem. Most of these solutions stand ready to help you move contacts to various popular CRM tools. Many SaaS CRM tools are also able to “suck in” email message data from your cloud G-Suite account.

This kind of practical reporting (open and response rate) makes weekly reporting to the boss (or yourself) a snap.

Email Verification Tools

When prospecting, we’re forced to email prospects. LinkedIn InMail alone is not enough — contrary to what most folks think. There are various, reliable hacks and methods to identify most business email addresses. However, most are a chronic waste of time.

Frankly most free email verification tools (and CRM platforms that include access to contact data/emails) are horrific. Quality lacks. Most generate 30 percetn or less accuracy rates on valid email addresses. This is what I and my students experience.

However, there are a few that seem to shine at understanding which business email address is valid and which is not.

Among the better choices (based on collective experience … please share yours too!) are:

  • Proofy.io (free and affordable paid email verification)
  • Emailvalidator.co (free email validation)
  • Hunter.io (free email validation)

Digital Calling and Telephone Tools

Whether you’re a small business entrepreneur or part of a global sales team you need to be on the phone. Like it or not, cold calling remains essential to success of 85 percent of students I coach.

Thus, you may need (or benefit from) emerging VOIP telephone tools like Grasshopper.com. This service makes it easy for small organizations to look-and-feel big. Once you have a registered toll-free phone number the possibilities begin. Your business can have:

  • Multiple extensions: an automated call routing system (even if there are only 2 of you!)
  • Voicemails transcribed and emailed or texted to you
  • Call forwarding
  • Business text messages

Hardware required? Zero. It’s all in the cloud.

Microsoft-owned Skype should not be overlooked, especially if you’re like me: traveling and working with international clients. Simply secure your phone number and bring it with you no matter where on the planet you are — so long as you have Wi-Fi, you have your local phone number.

Skype Manager is a great team management tool complete with call reporting for your in-office or remote team.

But don’t overlook UpCall.com. If you’re a business owner or manager interested in finding high-quality, vetted cold-callers, this service is for you.

In essence, UpCall.com is “like UpWork (formerly Elance) for cold-callers.” This is a growing database of cold-callers from around the globe. Select language, geographic and other preferences you require for callers. Then UpCall’s search engine suggests callers that best fit your requirements.

You can even listen to successful calls the vendors have made, view training and certifications they hold, and more.

Best of all, callers are rated based on feedback of paying clients they call for. Just like on Ebay or UpWork, you can choose the “safest bet” to start a new vendor relationship.

These are just a few telephone and email tools I have come to use, recommend based on my (and my customers’) experience. What are your experiences and preferred tools? Do they differ? Please share in comments!

Because You Know It’s … ALL ABOUT THAT EMAIL, ‘BOUT THAT EMAIL (No Mailman)

A quick roundup of a few virtual show sessions that will really hone in on the copy, creative and design aspects of email marketing.

Readers, pop quiz: What’s so special about Nov. 12? 

Is it:

  1. My birthday!!!
  2. The date of the famous Hill Valley Lightning Storm which allows Marty McFly to power the DeLorean with 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, sending him back to the future.
  3. The All About eMail Virtual Conference & Expo presented by eM+C and Target Marketing.

The answer, as you might have guessed, is ALL OF THE ABOVE! However, as awesome as A and B are, only option C will bring you the hottest email marketing topics, experts, and technology, right at your computer and totally free.

You can click here to sign up.

All About eMail Virtual Conference is a one-day virtual event packed with the latest and greatest in email marketing, from a robust agenda of live sessions to a lineup of expert speakers, to a virtual exhibit hall filled with the latest email marketing tech and free resources from the best in the industry.

That’s pretty much lightning-striking-the-clock-tower levels of cool for emailers like us, right?

(And yeah whatever, I know what you’re thinking, Back to the Future references were so two weeks ago. Well you’re on my blog now and every day is Back to the Future Day for me.)

I thought I’d give you just a quick roundup of a few of the sessions that will really hone in on the copy, creative and design aspects of email marketing — though really any of the content you can check out that day will be well-worth your 60-second sign-up.


You Won’t Believe It! Clickbait and Email Subject Lines
Starts: 11:50 am | Ends: 12:20 pm

If you know copywriting, you know the name Pat Friesen. She’s the author of The Cross-Channel Copywriting Handbook and a copywriter and content developer with years of experience behind her. Any session featuring Pat is bound to work magic on your email campaigns.

In this AAeM session, Pat will  examine of the controversial merits of using clickbait — made popular by sites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy — particularly when writing email subject lines. A few talking points she’ll cover:

  • What is clickbait (and why you should care)
  • Pros and cons of its effectiveness
  • How to build curiosity that delivers
  • When is clickbait appropriate for your audience, offer and objective?
  • Plus, plenty of examples of the good, the bad and the ugly

The Truths and Myths of Email Deliverability
Starts: 12:30 pm | Ends: 1:15 pm

I know when I first walked onto the marketing scene, I was told “never use exclamation points in your subject line, it’ll go straight to spam!” The ever-omnipotent “they” say to never use buzz words like FREE or even SALE. I’m sure you could name hundreds more spam-box urban legends. And yet, we continue to see these practices, and they continue to see success.

tumblr_inline_nw5bt5Gel61qfrl18_500

Yeah, Oprah, what is the truth? That’s what Ken Magill, Publisher of The Magill Report and Laura Atkins, Founder/CEO of Word to the Wise will be covering in their AAeM session. Learn the surprising answers to questions like: How many different types of spam traps are there? How do they work? And what are some of the best methods to avoid them? It’s like Snopes.com but for your email program.


The Strategic Formula for Email Conversion Success

Starts: 2:45 pm | Ends: 3:15 pm

Here’s a session I know I need for myself. Your creative process is only as good as the conversion it earns. I may think I’m hilarious for working an Oprah meme into my blog post, but what turns that Oprah meme into action?

Ben Filip, Data Scientist at MECLABS Institute, and Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content at MarketingSherpa are leading this session to help you find a method to the madness. Join them to learn a strategic formula for optimizing promotions and newsletters via email and provide case studies on companies that have done so themselves. They’ll cover:

  • How to create relevant messages that will resonate with your prospects
  • Using testing to optimize your email program
  • How to mitigate the impact of friction and anxiety on emails

All About eMail Virtual Conference will also feature sessions on leveraging technology to link direct mail and email in real time, drip marketing, using first-party data for successful CRM retargeting, the secret to creating outstanding customer engagement, how brands’ email strategies evolve across 5 key vertical markets, and really just a whole lot of true blue email marketing awesomesauce.

If you want to make Nov. 12 even more memorable than it already is: Click here to sign yourself up right now!

Can’t wait to see you there — I’ll be the one wearing the birthday crown!