Best Practices for Using Microsoft Outlook from a Sales Perspective

More on Outlook Plug-Ins

I have gotten such great comments from Arrow-Tip #23 Could a Plug In Increase Your Outlook Efficiency that I thought they would make a nice post of their own. Also, one juicy piece of news has been circulating since Arrow-Tip #23 was posted – Microsoft has supposedly signed a letter of intent to acquire Xobni. If its true then congrats to the Xobni guys!

Here are the comments from Arrow-Tip #23 regarding additional Outlook plug ins not covered in my post as well as more tips on how to use the plug ins that were covered. If you have a comment, feel free to add to the list below.

Posted by Kurt Greiner, March 20, 2008 –

I have a lot of these installed…

GTD – i use this daily. it helps me stay on track with business and life. since i have very little physical paper cross my desk (except for bills:( ) the paper version of the system never really worked for me.

OutTwit – i’ve been getting more involved in Twitter, and this helps since i am in Outlook all day.

FBlook – same reason as you. so i dont have to leave outlook to know about my facebook.

I removed Xobni, when i realized why i got rid of it the last time; it just doesn’t work the way i do. also it takes up too my screen real estate for my tastes, and if you minimize it then it provides no value.

I’m going to try simplyfile, and i want to try huntress lite when the outlook 2007 version is available. both look very helpful.

I should mention that I would kill for a WindowsMobile version of the GTD plugin. That’s a missing link IMHO.

Posted by Josh Tabin, March 21, 2008 –

Great post and thanks for the plug. A few comments:

1) I remove the LinkedIn toolbar becuase it crashed Outlook too often. Instead, I bought Anagram 2.8.2 from Textual for $29.95, which is the exact sme software LinkedIn uses but is better. Anagram lets you grab contact info from any text-based application (Word, web pages, Pwerpoint, PDF, etc.) They also have plug-ins for Jigsaw, NetSuite, SalesForce and others.

2) I like Xobni only for the speed in which it lists other email communications I have going with the email’s sender. The hidden social grpah underlying my email is not valuable to me. For free, it is great; for a price, I would drop.

3) If you want to be listed on every spam blacklist, get the Plaxo toolbar. It serves no purpose other than give you the illusion of an updated contact list.

Keep the great posts coming.

Posted By Peter Canale, March 21, 2008

I actually like using Xobni, but I’m kind of a newbie when it comes to email volume and plug-in’s for that matter. My email volume has steadily increased over the years, and I felt there was something missing to how I accomplish things in email. When I heard about Xobni, I excitedly found an invite and installed it.

It opened up my eyes to a world of possibility. I enjoyed this post because I now have some ideas on trying out different software.

As far as the slowness issues with Xobni, I haven’t experienced much of a slowdown. I’m also using Outlook 2007 so that might be a factor. The coolness factor of Xobni is nice.

Posted by Andrew Lampert, March 27, 2008

Hi Misty,

Posting here after your pointer from Twitter (although I actually bookmarked your post in a few days ago)

I only use a handful of the Outlook plugins you reference: LinkedIn and Xobni. I like the LinkedIn plugin largely because it goes part way to solving the pain of having to recreate my graph of connections in a web app when it already exists in my email client. The grab function is also useful, although I find it interesting to note that this is not LinkedIn technology – it’s licensed from another company.

I find Xobni useful in a number of ways, but I also agree that they’re really good marketers, and have managed to gain a *lot* of visibility recently, perhaps more than their product is really ready for at this stage. For me the key useful points of Xobni are:

* Having all the conversations for each person easily accessible (and viewable through the Xobni conversation view pane) in a single place
* Having all the attachments exchanged with a user in a single place. (For me, this is actually surprisingly useful)
* The analytics app – though this is arguably just interesting to people like me who love seeing graphs and statistics!

Two Outlook plugins you haven’t mentioned that are worth a look are Taglocity ( and ClearContext ( Taglocity allows you to tag messages in Outlook like you might in an email client like GMail. I’ve never made use of the categories in Outlook, and I’m still a new user of Taglocity, so it’s not yet clear how useful this is. I haven’t tried ClearContext, but it seems to have useful features, and the company’s CEO, Deva Hazarika is a smart guy who has lots of interesting ideas about improving the email experience.

Some ideas for thought.


Posted by Mike Gotta, March 28, 2008

If you are using older versions of Outlook and prefer to use it as the client for your RSS feeds, then plug-in’s are available (see below). If you are using Outlook 2007, you might still want to use a plug-in from these vendors even though Microsoft includes a feed reader within Outlook 2007. The Outlook 2007 implementation (in my opinion) is not all that great, and I’ve experienced performance issues since I subscribe to a large number of feeds (over 100).

Posted by Nicholas Maddix, April 15, 2008

Apologies for blatant self-promotion here, but I think it’s relevant to your readership that the technology behind the Grab feature in the LinkedIn toolbar is actually licensed from my company, Textual. It is a technology called Anagram and we have a number of products based on it for Outlook,, and other software, with more to come.

We’ve worked long and hard on it, so I’m glad to see it getting some positive attention!

Take a look around our web site!


Posted by Scott, April 19, 2008

I feel that the more you add on to Outlook, the higher the potential of crashes….I have LinkedIn toolbar, did have the google toolbar (uninstalled it), and also had Xobni installed; making Outlook take forever to start up and also to shut down.

I found Xobni great for its search capability, and also for examining email threads (80% of the email traffic is generated by 20% of your population; Pareto Principle). But it really slowed my system down, so I had to uninstall it.

Posted by Joshua Tretakoff, April 22, 2003

My $0.02:

– Plaxo: can’t live without it. I haven’t experienced the same issues as you; it works perfectly. And the de-duper is flawless. The two greatest aspects are instant updates to my address book in the background, and Pulse, which offers a whole perfect way to see all activity from all of my contacts. For more, see

– LookOut. Uber power search for Outlook, making the built in search pathetic by comparison. Simply no better, but I have high hopes of Xobni, which I just installed (more later).

– Cloudmark’s SpamNet. I wish every e-mail account I have was as good as Gmail about eliminating spam, but if not, there’s SpamNet. Costs $40 a year, and offers the benefit of crowdsourcing: if a few people mark a message as spam, then the rest of SpamNet’s 500K+ subscribers all get it automatically marked as spam. You can also override it, and review messages, but wow, what a powerful tool.

– Salesforce for Outlook. Kludgy, cumbersome, and the word “sync” is not really in their vocabulary, but for getting emails into Salesforce, can’t find better.

The one I’m now playing with is Xobni. I like a lot of what it does: it automatically creates linkages between Outlook contacts, and offers great inline search. One of the best parts is it’s ability to show recent attachments exchanged with the contact in a sidebar; that’s 90% of what I want when I am looking for a contact. Great graphics, smooth installation, and more. Lots of potential. I do wish it looked at my Outlook contacts’ photos and imported them instead of asking me to do it manually, and I wish the search was more powerful, but I’ll give it time to see if it can displace LookOut.

Thank you so much again to those of you who contributed these comments!

This post was written by MistyKhan and published on April 24, 2008 in the following categories: Add-ins, Front Page. You can leave trackbacks on this post at this address. To follow the comments on this post subscribe to the RSS feed.


I installed Xobni today I am VERY impressed. It hasn’t crashed Outlook 07 yet :)



After hearing about the Xobni plug-in from Outlook from you, I went over to the site to get a guest invite. I was surprised to get one within a few hours. The install was quick and painless, but I have a few issues.

Although the implementation is fantastic, the color scheme is very distracting. It’s purple and orange, with a hint of light green. It embeds itself in Outlook, so I can’t focus on the sea of pale blues around it. I’m too distracted to read my mail! I sent it a suggestion for an CSS color scheme changer (or something like it).

However, my email habits are a little different from others. Ninety percent of my email comes from or goes to half a dozen people. Xobni would be great for people who need a free customer relationship manager built into Outlook, but I’ve only got six contacts, each with 500 conversations and eighty attached files.

I’ve suggested it to many friends though, and they enjoy it. Our licensee management team here at the University of Chicago is putting it to great use. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!


Michael, great information – thanks so much! Misty


I used to use Lookout and ClearContext with Outlook 2003. With Outlook 2007 it’s just ClearContext as Lookout was purchased by MS and it is not part of Outlook 2007 search.

ClearContext is excellent and it is the only add-in I have for Outlook. Been their paying customer since version 1.0 (they are on v4 now). It is will worth the price.

Tried GTD – didn’t work out for me as it required too much discipline to be actually useful.

Xobni – liked the idea. Had it for about a week and uninstalled when found it is slowing Outlook big time – to unbearable freezing. Outlook is fast again after I removed Xobni. Great tool though – will try it again some time to see if it plays nicer with my Outlook.

Serge, Great stuff – thanks so much for your comments! Misty


Thanks so much for this blog! I’ve tried a lot of these mentioned. My fave so far is Outlook Track-Itjust because it’s finally a simple toolbar that helps with email handling. So, anyone that wants better followup functionality, I’d definitely recommend that. And now I continue my search….

Thank you for your comment – I’ve never heard of Outlook Track-It so will definitely check it out. Misty

  • bacarli
  • 18:44
  • January 27, 2009
  • 4.

Hmm.. I hadn\’t heard of Outlook Track-it til now. I just downloaded it and did a few tests, and it\’s amazing. You can literally flag any email and just have a reminder sent as to which ones you should follow up to, and when. The trial download is online. Google it or just go directly, which is what I did.

Thanks for the scoop, Dach! Will definitely check Track-it out. Misty

  • Dach Williams
  • 05:48
  • February 27, 2009
  • 5.

I am using Lookeen, maybe anybody of you knows that great little, fast tool!
Before I worked with Lookout, but this isn´t working anymore with Outlook 07, so I changed to Lookeen and be very very satisfied with it!
It is really similar to Lookout, reliable, extremly fast, works also with exchange server and I found the best feature of lookeen is that it is also a desktop search!
Maybe anybody wants to try it here the homepage:

Thanks for the tip, Samtitam – will definitely take a look. Misty

  • samtitam
  • 09:58
  • June 10, 2009
  • 6.

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