Eight weeks ago I stepped onto a plane in Moline, Illinois and 3 hours later I stepped off in Baltimore, Maryland with no return ticket home. I had earned a promotion and was now a member of the field sales organization! This Mid-western girl packed all of her belongings and was off to become a big city, East Coast dweller. In the blink of an eye 8 weeks has passed, but I have learned some valuable lessons about how to be successful in a field sales role.

LESSON ONE: Always Be OVER Prepared

Create a checklist of items to review before walking into any customer meeting. This check list should be a standard one that can be used for any visit or meeting. For example, a few items on my checklist include:

  1.  Know my customer’s sales numbers: It is important to have answers to financial questions in the event your dealership inquires. Having information and insight on your dealer’s numbers can lead to more productive and efficient conversations.
  1. Always have a training deck ready: Even if you are not visiting a customer specifically for training, you never know when a training opportunity may arise. Have a couple of training decks pre-made and saved to your computer for easy access.
  1. Set a micro goal for the visit: I have found that, when I go to a customer meeting with a micro goal in mind, I am more productive. Your micro goal should complement your visit and could be as simple as discussing a potential project with a customer or building more rapport with a certain individual.

LESSON TWO: Build Your Network

Being in the field gives you many opportunities to meet and build rapport with any number of connections. Being cognizant of this, I do two things to keep my contacts organized.

  1. Use a Business Card Binder: You can find a business card binder, in which you can keep each and every business card you receive, at just about any office supply store. I have categorized my binder by customers, end users, and vendors so when I need to reach out to someone I know where to look. I keep this binder in my car for easy access.
  1. My Network Excel document: This is a document that I update almost every day, or at least every time I meet someone new. It is a simple Excel document and has only three columns – Name, Company, and Comments. I keep it as a working document on my computer desktop so that every time I meet someone new or have a meaningful conversation with one of my customers I can update it. I simply add the individual’s name, company information and any comments that remind me of meaningful details we discussed together, whether it be how many kids they have, where they vacationed last or a project that may be 6 months out. Before I see that customer again, I pull up the Excel document and prepare myself with talking points.

LESSON THREE: Car time is Call Time

One difficult hurdle I had to get over in my new role was determining how to get the most out of my time in my car. Often times, I found myself coming home around 5pm and working until 9pm to try to catch up on all of the emails coming in to my inbox while I was driving. This is when I decided that “car time is call time”. I now use my car time to resolve any issues that can be dealt with over the phone. Instead of waiting until I get home to email customers, set up appointments or answer questions my customers have sent me via email, I simply call the customer while I’m driving. This helps me eliminate some email time when I get home and also gives me an excuse to network with my customers and build more rapport.

These three lessons that I have learned from being in the field for 8 weeks has helped to make my work days more efficient and effective. I plan to abide by these three lessons and several more that I pick up along the way to help make me a successful field sales representative.

For those of you who also work in Sales, what tips have you learned along the way?

Whether you attended NeoCon 2015 in person or participated in the fun through social media and HON World, I think we can all agree that last week’s show was one to remember. As the social media manager for HON, I often have the privilege to represent our company at exciting events as well as the enjoyable challenge of capturing HON happenings on film. I’m charged with the mission of meeting new people and finding creative ways to share our story through digital tools. But, at the heart of it all, my job is to spark engaging and meaningful conversation with you.

This year at NeoCon, our showroom was designed to ignite conversation – about HON, about office furniture, and about people and what they need to be successful. We wanted to inspire our showroom guests through color, simple designs, and purposeful furniture solutions. We aimed to bring a piece of Iowa and our longstanding value of inspired practicality to the bustling city of Chicago. And, we did just that.

Jerry Dittmer, President of The HON Company, summed it up best when he said “we took practical and simple to a whole new level.”

I hope you were able to visit us in person last week; but, if not, below are some of my favorite #HONSpotted images that were posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout the event so you won’t miss out on the HON conversations of NeoCon 2015!

Bringing Iowa to Chicago
No matter where we go, we’re always proud of where we come from, so we decked out the reception desk with a huge graphic of Muscatine, Iowa’s well-known Beckey Bridge. Just as the bridge welcomes you to HON Headquarters in Iowa, it now welcomes you in Chicago.

Iowa Roots

Inspired Practicality
It’s who we are and who we have been since our founding, so our clean and simple designs in this year’s showroom were intentionally created to demonstrate this core value at HON.

HON Inspired Practicality

New Products
All of the new product launches and expansions that were showcased at NeoCon this year are market driven and open for orders today, not sometime down the road. Some of the highlights this year included new Height-Adjustable Tables, new Mocha and Pinnacle laminates and our comprehensive Soothe® line for healthcare featuring the Soothe patient recliner, guest seating and tables.

New Products

Color
We’ve introduced several new fabrics and finishes this year, and by several I mean over 900 new seating fabric colors and 50 new panel colors! That was reason enough for us to to make an extra splash with pops of bright color throughout the space.

Color

HON Swag
What’s a trade show without some giveaways? Or, as we call it, HON swag? This year, everyone who visited the HON showroom could go home with HON lip balms and bags (which came in handy when it rained the first day!). Those who traveled by flight and snapped a photo of one of our new airport ads on their way to the event were also given a pair of HON-inspired argyle socks.

HON Swag Giveaways

Building Relationships
We recognize and appreciate that our partners are HON storytellers out on the front lines, so a highlight of NeoCon every year is meeting and catching up with the people most important to us and our mission.

HON Dealers and Partners

Fun!
We amped up our social media activities this year with props and 3D hashtags. There were lots of smiles and laughs shared as we all tried to master the selfie stick and pose with speech bubbles that boasted sayings like “office furniture rocks” (because we all know it does).

NeoCon Fun

Check out The HON Company on social media for more NeoCon photos and, more importantly, join in our online conversation. Whenever you’re attending an event with us, spot a HON truck or advertisement on your travels, or just want to show off a recent installation, tag us with #HONSpotted so we can be a part of it with you!

With NeoCon rapidly approaching (it’s only 3 days away!), I’ve found myself perusing Instagram to relive years past. Here are a few of my favorite snapshots:

Giveaways

1. Anyone recall these items floating around the showroom? HONigami, fortune cookies, and Fitbits galore! And you don’t want to know how many steps HON members accumulated during the 3 days with the Fitbit…

View

2. We consider ourselves quite lucky to have this view outside our showroom.

Chalk Display

3. Loved 2013’s chalk display!

Midwest

4. Proud of our Midwest roots and proud to be a part of this great city.

Bags

5. One thing you can always count on at NeoCon? BAGS. Still one of my favorite designs.

Designers

6. A huge plus to NeoCon is having that rare opportunity to speak with the product designers. Wolfgang Deisig pictured here with Motivate.

Seating

7. The HON Winning Lineup of Seating! Or a prime opportunity for musical chairs…

Flock

8. The year Flock minis stole the show.

Social Media

9. Last year’s social lounge.

Purpose

10. The evolution of Purpose.

Graphics

11. 2012’s colorful wall graphic.

What are some of your favorite NeoCon memories? See you in Suite #1130!

When you’re at work, how often do you stop to take a look at the finishes at your desk or personal work space? I’m sure you would be able to talk about how much storage you have (or are lacking!), the comfiness of your chair, and the personal items you have displayed.

But have you ever stopped to really look at the aesthetics of your workspace? What color is your desk? What color is your chair? Is there a pattern? Although I’m probably more in tune with available fabrics and finishes, given I work at an industry-leading furniture manufacturer, it’s interesting to think about how companies select product finishes, and how much finishes matter. Even more so, how much fabrics have evolved over time.

Working in Customer Support provides me with access to just about every HON Pricer in recent memory. Walk with me down memory lane as we look at fabrics that HON offered in the late 1990’s (mill name and pattern information is not provided to protect the innocent):

Fabric Card

Fabric card courtesy of HON Customer Support resources

 

Now, I’m a big fan of the 90’s – sitcoms, stirrup pants, and the Spice Girls. But, you’ll notice the fabric cards are pretty …. basic. This fabric card has only 3 fabric colors, which didn’t offer a whole lot of selection or variety.

Fast forward to 2015, which HON has internally deemed the “Year of Fabrics and Finishes” and I think you will see our product offering is leading the way in changing the workplace environment. Some of my favorite HON fabrics are below:

Momentum Millennium Thrill SMOMMIL41

Momentum Millennium Thrill SMOMMIL41

Momentum Coast SMOMINT02

Momentum Coast SMOMINT02

Momentum Expo Sprout SMOMEXP53

Momentum Expo Sprout SMOMEXP53

Each one of these fabrics seems to have a personality and is so different from the others. Starting in late fall of 2014, HON has since launched 8 new seating fabric cards, all focused on high performance attributes, with another new seating pattern coming in September. There have also been 5 new panel fabrics introduced.

HON is excited to continue to offer a variety of fabrics that fit every budget and workplace. If you have a chance, come visit us at NeoCon in suite #1130 to see other exciting new fabrics and finishes! And the next time you’re at your desk, take a look at the fabric – what story does it tell?

What color is your HON chair?

There’s a new kid on the block, or should I say 53.5 million new kids on the block.  You probably know them as Millennials, and today they make up one third of America’s workforce.  So what constitutes the perfect job for this generation?  Below are just a few examples of what this group looks for in a workplace:

Giving Back:  Millennials are looking for opportunities to give back to their community or to a charity that they or the company hold near and dear.  What is your workplace passionate about?

Continuous Learning:  Even though every college graduate vows that they are “Done!” when they throw their cap and gown, everyone eventually comes back to wanting more.  Opportunity for personal and professional development is especially important to this generation.

Flexibility and Variety:  The mundane and repetitive are not for this crowd.  Offer them a job that challenges them. Empower them to overcome those challenges, and you will have a pool of candidates eager to impress.

Mentorship:  Finding a role model in the workplace is as important as finding a personal role model.  Millennials want someone to help guide them, without the anxiety that may come along with a critique from their supervisor.

Collaborative work environment:   Millennials want to work together and collaborate. Maybe not all the time, but they want to at least have the option and the right environment in which to do so.  Having an open and more informal workspace that can accommodate collaboration will appeal to this generation.

How do you think the shift in workforce demographics is impacting office furniture and design?

Walk

As a member of the HNI Healthworks team, I spend time with other members within the company working to encourage healthy habits in the workplace. Workplace wellness continues to be a hot topic, both inside and outside the world of office furniture. Moreover, working for an office furniture manufacturer provides a very unique insight into this issue.

On one hand, as a HON member, I like knowing that people can put our seating products to good use. We offer a large variety of styles, functions, and features—executive chairs, modern chairs, chairs with more adjustments than I ever knew possible, and even reception area chairs. When designing our products, we make sure that it not only passes testing standards for safety, but we want it to be comfortable as well. One perk of working at HON is that our members are given the chance to test out new products and provide feedback to the designers and engineers before anyone else.

On the other hand, as someone who is fairly active, I also know how physically taxing it can be to remain at your desk for eight or more hours. I know, I know—sitting is hard?! It may sound crazy, but studies have shown that there can be negative side effects to remaining seated for too long without any movement.  Sitting is necessary for me to accomplish my work, and as much as I like my HON chair, I sometimes need a little break from sitting.

So what can you do? Here are a couple of helpful tips that I’ve been able to implement into my daily routine:

1. Take a walk! Everyone needs to take a break from work for a few moments during the workday, and I like to spend mine walking. My coworkers can attest to the fact that I can be spotted making a loop through our building, or even walking a lap in the parking lot during my breaks or over lunch.

2. Want a few extra steps?  Choose a parking spot that’s further away from the entrance to the building.

3. Take the long route when heading to the restroom, meeting room, break room, etc.

4. Skip the elevator (as your health allows) and take the stairs instead.

5. Eat your lunch away from your desk. Even if you just go to the break room or cafeteria, getting away from your desk not only gives you a chance to get some steps in, but it’s also a great way to “reset” yourself mentally.

6. If you have standing-height tables available for meetings or breaks, use them! You might not be moving, but standing for a meeting can be beneficial for your overall mobility.

7. Drink water—staying hydrated is important for your health, and the more you get up to grab a refill, the more steps you take.

These are just a handful of ways that I incorporate movement and activity into my day. Share your workplace wellness tips below!

1. Contain Encourages Expression. Just like your favorite shirt, you can make Contain your own. HON offers a range of Core, Choice, and Custom paints so pick whichever color you’re feeling for your office.

Contain storage

2. Dress it up or dress it down! Adding accessories can transition a shirt from a “day at the office” to a “night on the town”. Contain offers various base options, from footed to kickplate. Or, upgrade to fabric-wrapped cushions to provide short-term seating. You can even add a laminate top to match the rest of the office.

3. A great shirt can stand on its own, but also complements your entire wardrobe. Contain looks great alone. But it looks even better when combined with other HON products like Accelerate®, Abound® and Voi®. Mix and match to find a winning solution!

Contain storage

4. A classic shirt lasts forever and won’t go out of style – just like Contain. With the HON Full Lifetime Warranty, our products are built to last. So, you can be confident that Contain is the right solution for all of your workplace storage needs.

What do you love about Contain?

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