Back in the day, one could say to a prospect, “Tell me about your business…” And, most likely your prospect would happily share all the details you needed to know.

Today, of course, that question simply brands you as someone that hasn’t done their homework. Prospects today expect you to be knowledgeable – not just about your offering but about their business and their needs as well. It’s entirely possible to lose out on an opportunity just because you’re not up on the latest developments with your top prospects or your market.

More bleak news: The world moves very quickly and that means, unfortunately, existing customers or clients don’t always keep you informed about what’s going on with them. This is another potential loss of opportunity.

Want a quick, easy – and free – resource to know what’s going on with your top prospects, top customers or clients and your market? How about a resource that will enable you to differentiate yourself as someone who is knowledgeable about your prospects’ or customers’ needs? It’s Google Alerts.

If you are already using Google Alerts, good for you! If you are not, it is time to start. Go to www.Google.com/alerts and set up alerts for your top customers/clients, top prospects and your market.

This will help you in three ways:

    1. Crafting your introductions to top prospects because you now know what is happening with them.

    2. If you are meeting with a prospect, print out all the information that you’ve gathered from the alerts along with the relevant pages from their website or their LinkedIn company page and bring these printed pages with you. (Yes, yes, I know you can show them all on your tablet… But bear with me here….)

      When you are getting out your presentation materials you can also bring out the printed pages… Say to your prospect, “I’ve been following your company….” The idea here is that you are physically showing your prospect that you have done your homework and that you are thorough – a significant differentiator.

    3. You will always know what is going on with existing customers or clients so that you will know when there are new opportunities.

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