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By John .Robb

When I first started in sales I had simple tools: a pen, a notepad and me. I very quickly upgraded my notepad to a Daytimer. That one change increased my productivity by about 25%. It was because of this change that I learned the power of using good tools to help me sell more by being more productive. I eventually upgraded my Daytimer to a laptop running a contact manager. I experienced a similar productivity boost with this new automation tool. People that work on automation tools say that to be effective the tool must solve one of the three Ds Ė Dirty, Dangerous or Dull. For sales professionals most automation tools work on the last item - Dull. In the last 15 years Iíve discovered a number of tools that have helped me remove tedious tasks from my sales process. The following are five admin time savers I canít live without:

Anagram
Lookout
PDF995
EZ detach
Plaxo

I have one caveat Ė most of the tools listed above work with Microsoft Outlook. If you are using another email program or contact manager you will find only limited value in these tools.

Collecting Addresses

Anagram is my most recent find. If you do any amount of prospecting online you need Anagram. This little piece of software will read the contents of your clipboard and convert it into an entry in Outlook. Anagram knows how to tell the difference between an address and an appointment. I most frequently use Anagram to copy a prospects address from their website right into my Outlook. No more typing, tabbing, cutting or pasting.

In the past you might have used Outlooks ďadd to address bookĒ feature. Doing this only adds the persons name and email address to your address book, thatís only half the job. If someone sends you an email with his or her address in the signature file you can use Anagram to create a complete address book entry. You can also collect the address from the senderís website and then merge the have Outlook automatically merge the two contact entries

Searching Emails

About a year ago now Microsoft released Windows Desktop Search. In typical Microsoft fashion they purchased a company that made a great search tool for Outlook and incorporated it into their desktop search tool. When they did that they simplified the search syntax, what a pity. The previous incarnation of the software, Lookout, had robust search syntax.
Lookout offers phenomenal search capabilities for your Outlook files (documents too). The search is so good that I no longer sort my email. Why bother? With Lookout I can do simple or complex searches to help me find that one email Iím looking for.

Letís say Bob sends you an email on Tuesday, itís now Friday. You remember that Bob sent you an email sometime this week but you canít seem to find it amongst the hundreds of emails you received this week. With look out you can find the message very quickly with a simple search like this: from:bob lastweek. The search syntax is very robust but Iíd say the lastweek keyword is my favourite.

Sending Proposals

I prepare between two and five proposals/quotes every week. In a previous job I was doing that many a day. In our interconnected world most quotes are now transmitted in electronic format. I choose to send all of my proposals in PDF format. I do this for several reasons: maintain the look of the proposal, make it harder for the recipient to edit the proposal and to provide a readable format for the proposal.

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John Robb is the principal of SEO Expertise.
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