Archives for posts with tag: sales

It seems like there’s an app for everything these days, and sales operations is no exception. Doing a search through your mobile app store will yield dozens of results, from notes organization to order management. Many times these apps end up becoming more cumbersome than helpful, especially for those who are constantly on the road. Below are the top 5 apps I recommend and personally use as a sales professional that have helped me not only stay organized, but also make it easier to not use my car as my filing cabinet:

Top 5 Apps for Every Sales Professional

CamCard
CamCard is an app to which I was recently introduced by a co-worker after complaining about the huge stack of business cards sitting on my desk and lack of time to update my contact list. CamCard allows you to take a photo of a business card and instantly upload the contact information to your smartphone. You can also access all your business cards from anywhere, anytime because they are stored in the cloud and synchronized in real time across your devices and the online app. Ever find yourself at a tradeshow and you forgot to bring business cards? No problem! Not only can you save and retrieve business cards, but you can also join the paperless movement and electronically exchange information when meeting new people. Possibly the best part of this app is that it’s free! Learn more about CamCard here.

Evernote
If you’re anything like me, at the end of a full day your desk and trashcan are full of sticky notes with reminders, to-do lists, and messages. If your car is a traveling office, it can be even worse. Evernote allows you to create a project to-do list, jot down a reminder, or snap a picture of a sketch. As a salesperson constantly on the go, I’m always making notes to follow-up after meetings and other projects. With Evernote, you can organize your notes according to project, account, etc so they’re accessible wherever you go, any time. Have you ever searched your entire car looking for a tiny piece of paper with the phone number of a potential lead? Never again! Evernote also makes it very easy to search for notes, even if they’re handwritten. You can easily share your notes or create a group notebook for co-worker collaboration. The basic plan is free to anyone and there are additional subscription costs for the plus or premium editions. Learn more about Evernote here.

Dragon®
The Dragon Mobile Assistant utilizes Nuance® voice recognition technology to send and receive text messages, post to Facebook and Twitter, email, and much more – all hands-free! With most states banning texting and requiring hands-free devices while driving, it can be difficult to stay on top of your emails, voicemails, and messages while staying safe on the road. Dragon allows you to set reminders, make appointments, and search the internet without looking down at your device. The Attentive Mode allows you to wake-up your “assistant” at any time, even if your phone is locked. The app even automatically detects when you’re in a moving vehicle and will automatically switch to hands-free, eyes-free access. Learn more about the Dragon Mobile Assistant here.

Dropbox
It’s a fact of life in the furniture industry that when working with an architect on a project, you will inevitably run into the issue of a single email taking up most of your inbox space. That’s where Dropbox comes in! Not only does Dropbox free you from the limitations of inbox space, but you can also get access to all your files from anywhere, on any device, and share them with anyone. Even if the person receiving a file you’re sending doesn’t have a Dropbox account, they can still get access to the files through a link. Dropbox is also a great option for backing up important files and collaborating on a presentation with your teammates. When you edit a file in a shared folder, everyone receives an automatic update. Dropbox for individuals is free for the basic option, but you can upgrade to the pro option or options for businesses and teams for an additional charge. Learn more about Dropbox here.

DocScanner®
Have you ever been out on a call and learned from a prospective customer that the plans in front of you are the only copies? What do you do then? This is where DocScanner can save the day! With the DocScanner app, you can take a picture of a document and instantly convert it to a PDF. Now you have the perfect document to email to back to your team to help with specify furniture for your customer’s layout. Not only can you email the document as a PDF, but DocScanner can also feed into your Evernote account as well as integrate with Dropbox. Using this app in connection with your Dropbox and Evernote will ensure you have everything you need on the go and that it’s all safely stored for future use. Learn more about DocScanner here.

Have you tried any of these apps? What other resources do you use to stay organized on the go?

The holidays are a great time of year to come up with creative new ways to engage with your customers and partners. Whether you’re hosting a training for a newly launched product, sponsoring an event or participating in a vendor fair, we all know that the more face time you get with a customer, the better.

Holiday Showroom Event:

For a Sales Representative, this time of year is about finishing the year strong (the food and gifts are just an added bonus!). Celebrate the holidays with your customers by inviting them to your showroom and organizing a holiday-themed giveaway to encourage them to attend the event. Make sure to target customers who already have an interest in your product or are in the middle of making a decision about which products to order. By showing your appreciation for their business and giving them one last chance to check out your products, you position yourself to close those final sales before the year ends.

Catalog Distribution Tips:

The HON Company ships its new catalogs to customers during the holiday season, and it’s the perfect excuse to do something extra special for customers. If you have the time, try hand delivering your catalogs or brochures for an added personal touch. Or, try wrapping your catalogs in a holiday bow or bag to make it look like a special gift. Include a handwritten note that offers tips for using your catalogs and selecting your products. Anything you can do to help your catalog stand out will get your customers thinking about you and your products in 2016!

New Year Kick-Off Dinner:

Make sure you are top of mind for your customers at the start of 2016 by organizing a New Year kick-off dinner. Be mindful of vacation time and try to schedule it 1-2 weeks after everyone returns from their holiday breaks. Inviting your most important customers to dinner at the beginning of the year will make them feel valued and inspire them to select your products.

What are some of the ways you celebrate the holidays with your customers?

Office Furniture Rocks

When I joined the HON Marketing team last year, I was completely new to the office furniture world. It didn’t take me long to realize that, the moment you enter this industry, there are certain aspects of your everyday life that are forever changed:

1.  Vacations
Most people would probably want to check out from work on a vacation, but those of us in this field know that’s not how it works. My trips turn into a personal scavenger hunt to find HON product around the world or to spot a HON truck while I’m on the road. Plus, these sightings make great #HONSpotted posts on social media!

2.  Routine Appointments
You think you’ve scheduled an innocent trip to the dentist, but once you walk into that reception area and sit down in an Ignition lounge chair, it’s impossible not to tell everyone in the room that you are part of the team that made that chair possible. You aren’t afraid to turn chairs upside down during routine health check-ups, and instantly transform into a savvy Soothe salesperson whenever a patient room is lacking HON furniture.

3.  Common Office Lingo
You find yourself correcting your friends and family when they say the “C” word (it’s not a cubicle, it’s a workstation!). You also feel like it’s your job to educate people on the specific type of chair they sit in (it’s not just a chair, it’s a task chair) as well as their storage choices (Contain credenzas are a great solution for active storage needs, for instance).

4.  Movies
When you work in the office furniture industry, it’s not unusual to pause a movie every few minutes to analyze the furniture and celebrate loudly when you spot HON products….or to pause it, snap a photo of the TV screen, and send it via group text to all of your coworkers so you can talk about how much more you now love said movie.

5.  Organization
Let’s be honest, filing bills is no fun…unless you’re using a HON filing cabinet! When you understand the history behind how our products have evolved, from recipe card boxes made out of recycled steel to comprehensive workplace solutions, simple storage techniques have a whole new meaning.

6.  Your own home
I’ve had recurring dreams since NeoCon about finding space in my home for all of the awesome new HON furniture from our Chicago showroom, and I’ve found that there’s always a way to add it to your existing décor. Updating a home office? A new Height Adjustable Table will look great! Redecorating a playroom? Adding some Flock minis with a fun new fabric should do the trick!

7.  Where you work
When you sit in the chair you designed, or work at the desk you’re tasked to create marketing campaigns around all day long, you develop a whole new level of appreciation for the furniture that supports you throughout the day. And, when you know you can trust the tools that support you, it’s easier to make a difference and feel ready to change the world.

How has office furniture changed your life?

How do you “get good” at your job?

As a HON sales member, I get my share of windshield time and take advantage of it by listening to some good audible books.

I recently finished Cal Newport’s latest book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work you Love.

The book starts off with the premise that “follow your passion” is not necessarily enough to create long term work you love.

Here’s what I learned in order to develop a fulfilling, meaningful career and be “so good you can’t be ignored”:

  1. Build and master rare and valuable skills.
  2. Deliberately practice your craft.
    • Stretch yourself every day to achieve beyond what you’ve previously accomplished.  As a viola player in my youth, that meant practicing the same musical scale until it became muscle memory.  The diligence it took to get to this point was often strenuous and not necessarily enjoyable.  However, this deliberate practice was necessary to master advanced music playing.  Think of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, “WAX ON, WAX OFF”.
  3. Apply deliberate practice and a craftsman mindset as knowledge workers.
    1. You don’t get to call yourself a craftsman without putting in time and focus.  Newport references the 10,000 hour rule, the concept that until you put 10,000 hours (or roughly 5 years) into developing a skill, you have not yet mastered the skill.

I apply these lessons in my career.  Deliberate practice and a craftsman mindset are essential to becoming so good you can’t be ignored.  If you’re in field sales like me, you may find this difficult to implement.  After all, you don’t get to repeat the same sales call every day, as every conversation is a new opportunity.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t seek incremental improvement. Here is what deliberate practice can look like in sales:

  • What am I going to do on this sales call that helps me improve compared to my last sales call?
  • How am I going to communicate the information more effectively to get the response I want?
  • This time, I’m only going to focus on ‘X’.

Consistently finding ways to improve the day-to-day tasks adds up and will eventually differentiate you from your competitors.  Whether you’re in sales or practicing a different craft, what are some ways you implement deliberate practice in your field?

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?

If you are anything like me when you travel, whether it is for business or pleasure, you like to enjoy the delicious local foods. This also means, like me, the instant your plane lands on your home turf you feel the overwhelming feeling of guilt from over-indulging while traveling. As a sales person, my job requires me to travel A LOT to some beautiful parts of America, where every corner I turn there seems to be some butter-soaked, chocolate-covered, loaded-with-guilt, “must try” cuisine. I constantly find myself struggling with how to enjoy the local delicacy without having to let my pants out an inch or two every time I get home. I rely on these 4 tips each time I travel to maintain the “these pants fit just right” feeling while avoiding the “I have my tailor on speed dial to let these pants out” moment.

Goal one: Follow the 1 to 3 rule

The 1 to 3 rule means that for every 3 healthy meals I eat while traveling I will allow myself 1 “cheat” meal. This rule allows me about one meal of indulgence every other day. This gives me just the right amount of taste for the local cuisine without going overboard.

Goal Two: Take an extra STEP

According to thewalkingsite.com, a healthy person should get a minimum of 10,000 steps in a day, equivalent to walking 5 miles. Often times while traveling you find yourself sitting on a plane, sitting in an airport, sitting in public transit or worse….sitting in local traffic! This makes it difficult to walk 10,000 steps in one day, but if you make a conscious effort to achieve the 10,000 you will find unique opportunities to take an EXTRA STEP here and there. During a layover, instead of choosing a coffee shop right next to your gate, choose one that is in a separate concourse. This allows you to get in some extra steps while walking back to your gate for your flight.

Goal three: Be “Runtastic”

You could also call this Goal two part A, but for the sake of simplicity I call it goal three. The fact is that you may challenge yourself to take the extra steps but it is difficult to know if you are reaching the goal of 10,000, especially if you do not have a Jawbone™ or Fitbit® to help keep track for you. But of course…there is an app for that! I found that downloading the Runtastic app to my smartphone allows me to track my steps, understand what parts of the day I am most active and even know my average pace. For an extra health boost, push yourself to increase your walking speed by 1% each week.

Goal four: Food Trip every meal

The Food Tripping app allows you to search for healthy restaurants and markets ANYWHERE. It is a super easy app to use. It simply picks up your location and pings restaurants and markets around you that have plenty of healthy options. You can click on the ping and it will tell you the distance to the healthy location and directions to get there. I use it every time I am trying to stay true to my 1 to 3 rule.

As my business and personal life takes me to all different parts of the world, these 4 tips will help keep me healthy while I’m on the go. What other tricks do you use to stay healthy on the go?

The HON Company is one of 12 operating companies under HNI Corporation, a leading global office furniture manufacturer. As a leading manufacturer, HON depends on its engineers to design and produce world-class, high-quality furniture for our Sales and Marketing teams to sell!

…But what is engineering?! We went straight to the sources to find out. Read below to hear how some of our HON members describe engineering!

engineering

Jim, Manufacturing Engineer: “Being able to take something apart, understand it, and put it back together.”

Joe, Manufacturing Engineer: “Solving the world’s problems.”

Nick, Manufacturing Engineer: “Innovation.”

Trevor, Manufacturing Engineer: “Development of new products and processes and improvement of previous products and processes.”

Brett, Manufacturing Engineer: “Solving problems.”

Shawn, Manufacturing Engineer: “Pure awesomeness.”

Russ, Engineering Manager: “The application of science and materials to manufacture products that will meet the needs of a person.”

Katie, Industrial Engineer: “Looking at a problem from various perspectives and being able to determine the best solution.”

Paul, Manufacturing Engineer: “Teamwork – working together.”

Shane, Product Engineer: “Quickly finding solutions to problems without disrupting the flow of product.”

Oisin, Manufacturing Engineer: Improving the world around you. It doesn’t have to be math- or science-related; it just has to be a problem solved for the better!”

TJ, Quality Engineer: “Designing and building solutions to complex problems using technology.”

Jonathan, Quality Engineer: A systematic approach to problem solving using quantitative information to determine the solution.”

So there you have it! Engineering means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The HON Company leverages all of these perspectives in our processes to meet customer expectations.

Are you an engineer? Do you work with engineers? What does “engineering” mean to you?

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