Just recently, I had to reload my system to remove a poorly constructed malware attack. Instead of installing some type of backdoor trojan to sneak off with my personal information, this thing succeeded in corrupting some vital files and caused my system to not perform basic functions, like running my browsers.

During the bare metal reload, I came to appreciate several Firefox plugins that enhanced Gmail and provided functionality that I really couldn’t live without.

So in the next few posts, we’ll take a quick peek at some of those Firefox and Chrome plugins that will boost your Gmail experience. They should make your prospecting and selling a little easier and give you the opportunity to communicate your sales proposition effectively.

Rapportive Provides Social Networking Insights

One of the biggest challenges facing sales reps performing sales over the phone is gaining insightful information on their prospects. One complaint that I commonly hear in our programs and in our coaching activities is, “Where am I supposed to find information on my prospects quickly? If someone sends a request by email, am I supposed to spend hours researching them online?”

The answer is “Yes” if you want a shot at the business. Not hours mind you but you will have to spend some time in research mode. Now, you have a tool that can shorten that time up even more.

The first plugin I reloaded into my browser is from Rapportive. It turns my Gmail into a social networking portal and provides me with insights into anyone sending me email. You’ve all seen the ads on the right hand side of the Gmail window. Now imagine what you could do if those ads on the side bar of your Gmail pane were replaced with useful information from the sender’s social networks and online profile.

How would you respond to a message from an unknown person if you could easily see their online profile from LinkedIn, Facebook, and their latest messages on Twitter?

How would you respond to a sales rep who sent you an email promoting professional services, but the picture visible from their profile was one of them guzzling beer?

What could you do if a prospect sent you a message requesting information on one of your products and their Twitter stream made a vague reference to their current solution’s shortcomings?

The opportunities for developing leads and shepherding prospects through your sales process are boundless if you can get a stream of information on your prospect’s perspectives.

Rapportive will give you those insights each time you look at the emails from your prospects and clients.

A Peek At The Rapportive Gmail Plugin

Here is a look at the Gmail windowpane with the Rapportive plugin installed and connected to social networking resources like LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Buzz.


The Rapportive Window

Frame 1

This windowpane gives you access to information in their social networking profile and allows you to review as well as update a number of their social properties. It replaces all of the ads that were on the right hand side of your Gmail window.


If the email sender has a Twitter account, clicking the Twitter icon will bring up their Twitter profile and provide a list of their last tweets.


Rapportive highlighting Twitter

Frame 2

Facebook Profiles:

Shown in this sample, the Facebook profile pops up with the latest post. When you place your mouse over the post, the web page referenced by the link appears to the left of the post. That should give you insight into what’s currently on the mind of your sender.


Rapportive Facebook Profiles

Frame 3

Additionally, if the person is in your Facebook group, Rapportive lets you write a message on their wall without leaving Gmail. It’s an excellent way to send a quick response to an email request letting your prospect know that a more in-depth response is on the way while also adding your voice and expertise to her current conversation.


Rapportive commenting on Facebook

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Facebook Pages:

The same process works for Facebook Pages as well.


Rapportive Facebook Pages

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So if your contact has sent you email regarding a business webinar and has a Business Page with a relevant post about the webinar, you can leave a quick response or, even better, a short testimonial, on their Page without leaving your Gmail window.


Rapportive commenting on Facebook Pages

Frame 6

Other Social Networks:

You can also see a host of other social networks that make up your email sender’s repertoire, including LinkedIn, blogs like Blogger and social media outlets like Picasa. If you are ever in a quandary over what you should talk to your prospect about, these networks should point you in the right direction.


Other social networks visible in Rapportive

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Installing The Rapportive Plugin

Now, what do you need to install this application?

Actually, not much and installation is a snap.

First, you need to use either the Firefox browser or the Chrome browser.

Next, you need to be using Gmail or Google Apps email, which requires a Google or a Google Apps account.

And after you have these in place, you need to grab the Rapportive plugin.

Installation in either Firefox or Chrome is pretty simple and straightforward so I won’t go into any of the installation details. It’s truly a one-button operation.

It’s so simple, even a sales rep can do it.

After you get the app installed, simply open your Gmail account and allow the Rapportive app to connect up with your LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and you will start gaining insights into your Gmail contacts.

Of course, if you have set up Firefox to maintain separate profiles, you will need to install the plugin for each browser profile.

However, the insights gained will be immeasurable.

Go ahead, install the Rapportive plugin and start becoming more acquainted with your email contacts.

We’ll look at projecting a compelling profile in the next post.


Since creating this post, Google has updated Gmail and replaced the ads on the right hand side pane with an informative window view of it’s own. Termed the People Widget, it provides additional insights into your Gmail activity and the people with whom you communicate.

So how did Rapportive deal with this new competitive addition? Well, instead of taking it head on, they integrated it into their application, providing even more insightful reviews and enhancing their user’s experience.

Download the Rapportive app right now and start communicating effectively with your prospects.