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10 Free Online Sales Tools for 2010

We're already well into the new year, so this is a good time to spruce up your sales tool chest. However, since the economy is still weak, most of you don't have a giant budget to buy software and services. With that in mind, here are some completely free (really!) sales tools.

With these free tools you can get control of your email contacts, easily build online presentation, research individuals and companies, and even increase your cold calling effectiveness -- without asking your manager or CSO for a single thin dime.

You'll note that I not only describe each tool, but explain its limitations, and why it's free... that way you know EXACTLY what you're getting, and why. I've also (of course) included a link where you can either access or download the tool

If you like this stuff, I can make this a regular feature of the blog, BTW. Happy hunting!

CLICK to see the first free sales tool »
Got an iPhone? Check out: Top 5 iPhone Apps for Sales Pros

FREE SALES TOOL #1: MyBrainShark
  • What it does: It's a website that allows you create what Brainshark calls "a voice-enriched multimedia presentation or podcast." That's a fancy way of saying that it makes it easier for you to record your PowerPoint presentation for online display. Essentially, you upload a file that you'd like to add your voice (like a PowerPoint presentation), then (using your phone) you record your audio, synchronizing it with your presentation. You can then share the finished item as a URL link and (most importantly) track who views the file.
  • How it helps you sell: This is online marketing made easy. You put your sales pitch and product information online in a way that people can easily view it (and hear your voice), and then contact them after they've viewed it. It's like cloning yourself and putting the clones on the web.
  • What's the downside: As we all know, canned sales presentations tend to be, well, canned. While you can provide basic information about a product, you'll still need to find out about the prospect before you try to develop a relationship. Of course, some of the other tools on this list can help you with that!
  • Why it's free: Brainshark has a higher-end, full-function system for sales teams (and others) who are really serious about online presenting.
  • Vendor: Brainshark
  • Get it here: MyBrainshark
CLICK for the next free sales tool »
FREE SALES TOOL #2: Firefox SuperSearch
  • What it does: It's the"Swiss Army Knife" of search engines. It allows users to perform web searches, people searches, reverse lookups, public records searches, due diligence and background research, using over 160 of the internet's best search engines. Just type in a person's name or a search phrase and select the search(es) you want to run from the menus. If you don't find what you are looking for on one site, try any of the others without having to retype your query. In addition the green icon "Search Links" menu provides navigation links to almost 100 more search sites, like whitepages; reverse lookups; yellow pages, etc.
  • How it helps you sell: Only a fool walks into a sales situation today without knowing a lot (A LOT) about the the prospect or customer. This tool makes it quick and easy to dig around and find information about the individuals and firms that you're selling to. Using this tool can cut your research time down to a fraction of what it would be if you plugged along with traditional search tools. Absolutely invaluable.
  • What's the downside: You've got to run Firefox as your browser in order to make it work. On the other hand, why in the name of heaven would you be running Internet Explorer, much less any other browser, other than Firefox.
  • Why it's free: The guy who created it wants people to use his cool people searcher, Skipease. I suspect he built the widget because it evens out the playing field. On the other hand, he just might be one of those brilliant guys who must share their brilliance with the world. If so: BRAVO!
  • Vendor: People Search
  • Get it here: SuperSearch
  • Get Firefox here: GetFireFox
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FREE SALES TOOL #3: Edgar
  • What it does: The SEC requires publicly-held companies beyond a certain size to file detailed financial statements. Those documents are put into a database known as the EDGAR (Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval) system. It performs automated collection, validation, indexing, acceptance, and forwarding of submissions by companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the U.S. SEC. The database is freely available to the public via the Internet -- and that means you.
  • How it helps you sell: Public companies must put a wealth of interesting information in their 10K (annual) and 10Q (quarterly) filings. Not only can you look at details of the finances, but you can typically get a rundown of their basic organizational structure, names of the top managers, how they're deployed in the field, where they have offices and facilities, and (most importantly) a list of the top risks and challenges that the companies face. If you can't figure out how that information would be useful in a sales campaign, you're reading the wrong blog, Bucko.
  • What's the downside: It's only got high level information; if a company is very large, whatever your selling might only apply to a division, and that division might not get much more than a brief mention (if that) in the financial reports. However, at least you'll know the context in which the division is operating, and there will be whole set of questions (relative the larger business) that you won't have to waste time asking.
  • Why it's free: Your tax dollars at work.
  • Vendor: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Find it here: EDGAR
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FREE SALES TOOL #4: Google Analytics
  • What it does: This application generates detailed statistics about the visitors to a website. It can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents. When integrated with Google AdWords, you can review online campaigns by tracking landing page quality and conversions (goals). Goals might include sales, lead generation, viewing a specific page, or downloading a particular file.
  • How it helps you sell: I'll let an experienced user (Travis Van) explain this one to you. "Aside from the sales folks themselves, what's the #1 sales asset for the majority of corporations? I would argue it's their web site. Any marketing teams worth a lick these days are VERY focused on campaigns that drive sales, and being able to prove out A/B testing on specific campaigns, being able to show precisely where the leads are coming from, and working with sales to create destinations on the web site where targets effectively self-select and raise their hands (i.e., become qualified). Google Analytics forces marketing to PROVE how they are helping sales. And there are zillions of cheap resources out there that are awesome at configuring it."
  • What's the downside: It's optimized for use with AdWords, so if you're not using AdWords, you're not getting the full benefits. Also, you're helping Google become the evil empire of the web, but that's another story entirely.
  • Why it's free: Because it's optimized for AdWords, Google apparently believes it will help create loyalty to their site. Also, Google wants to become the "go to" place for all economic activity on the web, so they're giving away functionality that their competitors (e.g. Microsoft) would prefer to sell.
  • Vendor: Google
  • Find it here: Google Analytics
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FREE SALES TOOL #5: Xobni
  • What it does: This is a free add-on to Microsoft Outlook that turns it from an email system into a powerful sales tool. It creates another window in outlook that displays a profile of whomever sent you the currently highlighted email. Often Xobni manages to grab that person's photo and telephone number from LinkedIn, Facebook, or several other social neworking sites. It also shows a string of communications that you've had with that person. Most importantly, it has a search window so you can almost instantaneously find contacts without using Outlook's own molasses-slow search function.
  • How it helps you sell: If you use Outlook a great deal, it quickly becomes a collection point for the interactions that take place between you and your contacts. As your Outlook file grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to find people and contacts that you know are stored in there. In addition, unless you're willing to do a LOT of data entry, your contacts consist solely of email addresses and names. Xobni not only make it easier to find the your contacts and the emails you've sent them, it also gives you plenty of identifying information that you can use to establish contact -- and often a picture, to jog your memory, if you've met the person face to face.
  • What's the downside: Minor complaints. The most frustrating thing about the application is that it doesn't continue to highlight the email thread that you've just examined, so that if you're searching for a particular email, you end up re-displaying the same message, over and over, unless you start counting with your fingers on the screen. Also, the current version can keep Outlook from closing all the way when you exit, thus bypassing any password you've put on your .PST file. That's wicked annoying if you don't want other people to get on your machine and examine your emails.
  • Why it's free: It's a st8arter package for the $29.95 Xobni-Plus package, which has a number of reasonably useful features, like the ability to search the internal text of messages, and build more complicated search criteria.
  • Vendor: Xobni
  • Find it here: Xobni (click on "BASIC")
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FREE SALES TOOL #6: Jigsaw
  • What it does: Jigsaw is a user-generated database that's continually updated by its members. Jigsaw's contacts act as a virtual business card, offering name, title, postal and email addresses and direct-dial phone numbers for individual contacts. Jigsaw also offers free company data downloads, company wikis, and free company research.
  • How it helps you sell: Unlike LinkedIn and other social networking tool, the point of Jigsaw is for people to share their contacts, not just their own identity. While there are larger databases of contact information available, Jigsaw allows you to download up to 50,000 complete company records at a time, without renting or buying costly company directory lists. That means you can create a list of leads -- and possibly very good leads -- without spending money on an expensive list.
  • What's the downside: Hard to look this gift horse in the mouth, but the database is far from "complete"... if that concept has any meaning when it comes to the rapidly changing business world.
  • Why it's free: It's a loss leader for the full function product.
  • Vendor: Jigsaw
  • Get it here: Jigsaw
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FREE SALES TOOL #7: Hoovers
  • What it does: This is a database of companies and other organizations, which includes top level data on financials, strategies, competitors, key executives, market dynamics, and so forth. It's built on a database of information on more than 30 million corporations and organizations, and more than 35 million people. Unlike a number of web-based applications that use crawlers, Hoovers has a ginormous staff of industry experts.
  • How it helps you sell: Hoovers is a great place to bone up on a customer or a competitor, without having to dig through the SEC reports. (See EDGAR above.) There's also an upgrade that's specifically for sales organizations, containing a boatload of special features.
  • What's the downside: You've to pay to get to the really juicy bits. On the other hand, having a quick overview can be helpful, especially if you're not ready to dig into the details. BTW, Dow Jones has got another product (not free, but really, really powerful) that's specifically for sales professionals: Dow Jones Companies and Executives. Definitely worth checking out.
  • Why it's free: The company derives most of its revenues from subscriptions, which provide access to more detailed company, industry, and executive information. Essentially the free site is a loss leader to get you hooked on using the service.
  • Vendor: Dun & Bradstreet
  • Find it here: Hoover's
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FREE SALES TOOL #8: The Ultimate Cold Calling Tool
  • What it does: It provides a list of the most common objections that you're likely to encounter when you cold call. When you hear one of them, you click on that objection and you're presented with a list of possible responses. You choose the response that "feels right" and then, after you give it, you click on that response to continue to sales call.
  • How it helps you sell: Essentially, it's a way to get those pesky objections out of the way so that you can do some real lead qualification. It's to be used along with another valuable tool, The Ultimate Lead Qualification Tool, which helps you ensure that the lead is actually a sales opportunity worth pursuing.
  • What's the downside: If you don't have a reasonably high bandwidth connection, re-displaying each page can be a pain in the tuchus. Sorry about that.
  • Why it's free: There's advertising on the page, so every time you click on a link, it generates a teeny-tiny revenue stream.
  • Vendor: BNET
  • Find it here: The Ultimate Cold Calling Tool
  • Also see: The Ultimate Prospect Qualification Tool
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FREE SALES TOOL #9: Zoho CRM
  • What it does: Hey, it's CRM. It's got all the features you'd expect in a world-class CRM product, including marekting campaigns, lead management, sales pipeline, forecasts, etc. You can track customers email correspondence, synchronizing CRM contacts with your email system, and even complete the post-sales activities with an integrated inventory management system. You can even analyze sales and marketing trends with various reports and dashboards.
  • How it helps you sell: Well, it's CRM, so it doesn't really help you sell. But it does take care of the busy work of tracking your pipeline and keeping all your accounts moving forward. And while many CRM packages have some kind of trial usage, Zoho is the only one (of which I am aware) that allows you to have three full licenses for free, before hitting you up for the full product.
  • What's the downside: A major reason so many companies are gravitating to salesforce.com is the hundreds of force.com applications that (more or less) plug right into that environment. While Zoho has some powerful tools in its extensive toolkit, it's probably never going to be anywhere as huge as salesforce.com when it comes to powerful add-on programs.
  • Why it's free: They're hoping you'll sign up all your sales team (and hoping that it's more than 3 people).
  • Vendor: Zoho
  • Get it here: Zoho CRM
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FREE SALES TOOL #10: Demandbase Stream
  • What it does: This is a nice little widget works like a news ticker displaying information across the desktop about which businesses are visiting your Web site, along with their interests, and contact details for the most appropriate decision makers to contact for follow up. You can also flag existing customers, prospects, partners, and competitors, so that you're aware when they're doing something on your website.
  • How it helps you sell: According to groundbreaking research by Dr. James Oldroyd, leads generated by website access grow cold very quickly and are usually completely dead within a day. You therefore want to react VERY quickly when a prospect shows an interest in your firm and its offerings. It also doesn't hurt to know if other folk are checking you out. BTW, Edgar, Jigsaw, and Hoovers (Sales Tools #4, #7, #8 above) are all integrated into Demandbase Stream, which is pretty darn cool.
  • What's the downside: Unlike the other tools in this post, Demandbase Stream requires a little coordination with whomever is building your website. Essentially, they have to put a little dingbat on the front page of your website so that DemandBase can recognize it. Also, the last time I looked at the tool, they were limiting it only to websites of a certain size.
  • Why it's free: It's a preview of the power of the full product.
  • Vendor: DemandBase
  • Get it here: DemandBase Stream