Use search to better know your customers.
In times like these where sales are still slow and those projects that are available are increasingly tough to get, distributor salespeople must be confident that when they walk into a customer location, they’re doing so armed with all the information that they could possibly need. That’s why distributors often spend significant money researching leads and finding out more about local companies. However, as those who attended MHEDA’s 55th Annual Convention in Marco Island, Florida, found out, there is an immensely powerful customer research tool that is available to MHEDA members. The tool: Google. On the fourth day of Convention, Sam Richter gave what was arguably the event’s most heavily discussed presentation as he described how Web search can help distributors truly know their customers and prospects before ever making that first sales call.
Before you turn up your nose and say, “Google is nothing new, I’ve been using it for years,” take a minute to hear us out. Sure, we all use Google, probably more than once a day. The question is, are we using it the right way? The old story goes that humans only use 10 percent of their brainpower. Well, as Richter explained to the Convention crowd, we may only be using 10 percent of our search power, too. However, if you take the time to figure out how to exploit that untapped 90 percent, you can elevate your pre-call knowledge and increase your chance of landing new business.
Search Like a Pro
Every Word Matters Each item you include in a query will be used.
Capitalization Doesn’t Matter Searching for The MHEDA Journal will give the same results as searching for the mheda journal.
Punctuation Is Ignored (Mostly) Put in all the ()*&^%$#@! that you want, but except for the cases listed below, it won’t matter.
Search Like A Machine Don’t type queries in a conversational tone, type them like they would be written on a web page.
Be Descriptive The more details you include in the search, the better your results will be.
Advanced Search Tips
Phrase Your Query (“”) When you surround your search with quotation marks, you’re instructing Google to search for exactly that phrase with the words in that specific order. This step isn’t always necessary, but when you want to be extraspecific, it’s a great tool to have.
Cut Through The Junk (-) Have you ever searched a topic only to end up bogged down with a bunch of irrelevant results because the word has multiple meanings? Well, there is a way to change that. Say you want to search about the people of Denmark. Of course, you’ll Google “Danish”. Unfortunately, half your search results will end up being pastryrelated. Try using the minus sign. Google “Danish –pastry” and watch your results clear up.
Star Power (*) The * icon is how Google fills in the blanks. As Richter explained at Convention, this can be one of the most useful Google search tools. Want to contact an executive but don’t know his specific e-mail address? Try Googling *@ abcompany.com. You’ll find all the Web results for e-mail addresses at that domain. Even if you don’t find the exec’s specific address, you can find the format that the company uses.
This OR That Google is in the habit of considering all of the words included in a search. However, you can use the OR function to have the site search each element separately. For instance, the search pallet jack OR class III lift truck will give you pages that include only one of the two phrases. If you remove the “OR” you will only get pages that include both terms.
Filed Under Useful This is a type of search that can sometimes lead to very valuable customer information. It shows specific documents or files that have been posted online (often without the poster realizing they can be publicly searched). To do a filetype search, type the name of the company and follow it with filetype: and the extension of the filetype that you want. Use .doc for Word, .xls for Excel, .pdf for Adobe PDF files and .ppt for Powerpoint. For instance, if you want to find any Excel spreadsheets that were posted by ABCompany, you would search ABCompany filetype:xls.
Use Your Caché Have you ever found a great search result only to get the old “404: page not found” error? There’s a way around it—click the “Cache” button on the bottom right-hand corner of the search result and you will be directed to an archived version of the page.
Now you’ve got the tools; it’s time to start putting them to use. As Richter told Convention attendees, “Although the best information is not easily found via popular search engines, if you know where and how to look, the best information can be found easily. When you use these tips, tricks and resources, you’ll be well on your way to mastering sales intelligence and winning more business than you ever thought possible.”