Find great tips and a variety of thoughts for being a more effective sales rep in the natural products industry.

Black Friday 2013: Deals on iPhone, iPad, and Mac apps.

Black Friday is here again! Here you can find some great deals on essential Mac and iOS apps that I’ve found useful as a sales rep.

There are a ton of deals online, but we picked a few choice apps that we keep in our arsenal as sales reps. We took care of finding the best stuff for you!

Mac

Hardware

iOS

  • Clear+ Tasks & To-Do List: $4.99 > $2.99
  • Triage: Email First Aid: $1.99 > $0.99
  • 1Password 4 for iOS: $17.99 > $9.99
  • All Readdle apps 50%
    • Calendars 5: $6.99 > $2.99
    • Scanner Pro by Readdle: $6.99 >$2.99
    • PDF Expert: $9.99 > $4.99
    • PDF Expert (iPhone): $9.99 > $4.99
    • PDF Converter – Save Documents, Web Pages, Photos to PDF: $6.99 > $2.99

Know of any other great apps that are on sale? Contact us!


Using Google Earth to Visualize Your Accounts

Stop staring at a spreadsheet full of cities and trying to mentally map your accounts! Use Google Earth to easily visualize where all of your accounts reside within your territory. Ever get back from a long trip only to realize you skipped a small town just off the freeway where you had an account? With this cool trick and find those outliers easily and better plan your sales route.

 


Adventures in Standing Desks | Attempt #1

After reading what feels like probably the 5th or 6th article published on how bad sitting at a desk is for you, I decided to finally take action and start making progress towards setting up a standing desk work environment. While sales reps probably have less to worry about since we are moving about a bit visiting stores, it’s not uncommon for us to spend hours sitting in our cars as we drive to accounts. I had researched standing desks about a year ago and dove in once again and boy there has been quite the surge of creative ideas since I last looked into DIY standing desks!

For my first attempt I wanted start simple: Just create a raised platform I could place on my desk when I wanted to stand and remove when I didn’t. This offered me the opportunity to try the standing-desk lifestyle without spending hundreds to thousands of dollars in off-the-shelf standing desk solutions. The starting inspiration for this project was the $22 LACK desk. While I like the design, I felt like the huge square profile of the LACK table would take up too much space on my current desk and I wanted something that felt and looked a little classier.

I headed off to IKEA with a list of ideas in hand and wandered the showrooms looking for any bits and pieces I could cobble together into a workable solution. I will note that this visit occurred at 6pm on a Monday night. Visiting IKEA on the weekend is a fool’s errand. Don’t make things harder for yourself. After 2 hours of meandering I settled on the following:

IKEA Standing Desk Shopping List:

  • Two pieces of a HEMNES cabinet (as-is department, $5 each) – $10
  • Capita 8″ Legs (4-pack) – $14
  • Capita Bracket (2-pack) – $14.99
  • TOTAL COST: $38.99 (plus the cost a drill bit I needed)

IKEA standing desk construction

BUILD ALL THE THINGS!

The two shelves I picked up from the “as-is” department are both 24″ in length with differing widths (11.75″ and 12.625″). I started with the wider shelf and installed the 8″ CAPITA legs to the corners. I placed this on top of my EXPEDIT desk and tried this out just as a keyboard stand. It worked but was still far from ideal as it wasn’t even close to elbow height. I installed the CAPITA brackets into the second skinnier shelf that would hold my keyboard and mouse. I installed the brackets about 1.5″ in from the back edge and 4.25″ in from the sides so they would clear the CAPITA legs installed on the wider monitor shelf when I combined the two. After measuring, drilling holes, and combing the two pieces I was finished! The top shelf raised my keyboard and mouse to EXACTLY the right height and the back shelf put my monitor at just slightly below eye level.

 

IKEA standing desk

 

So there you have it! It works great and I’m enjoying it so far. The CAPITA legs are sturdy as hell and provide good stability. The monitor is slightly below eye level but it’ll work for now and I can easily fix this with by placing a phonebook (do they still make those?) under it. The keyboard shelf is at exactly the right height (elbow height) at 46 1/4″ or about 16.5″ above my current EXPEDIT desk surface. This setup works for my 6’2″, 195lb frame but everyone’s arms are different so be sure to take your own measurements first. For folks that aren’t as tall, IKEA makes shorter 6″ CAPITA legs and all the legs are adjustable by about an inch so you can make microadjustments.

What I’d do differently:

  • Use shorter screws. I didn’t think about this before I started the install, but the screws that come with the CAPITA brackets are just a bit too long and poked through to the other side of the shelf. Luckily my keyboard and mouse fit in front of them so there’s no loss of a stable surface for them and the screws didn’t fully make it through to the other side so I don’t have to worry about getting scratched by them.
  • Longer monitor shelf. The stand on my monitor is so huge that it’s the only thing that fits on the shelf. I’d probably go with a 38″ shelf next time so both the monitor and the laptop can be at eye level. For now just having the 24″ monitor provides plenty of screen real estate to work.
  • Balance. Because I installed the keyboard shelf so far forward from the monitor shelf the entire unit is a little top heavy and tips over with an easy push. This isn’t a problem when you have the weight of a monitor on the back shelf, but it’s something to consider. I had thought about this while putting everything together so I attempted to attach the keyboard shelf at a place that would provide stability but still put the keyboard and mouse far enough away from the monitor so that the screen wouldn’t burn my retinas.

What’s Next?

I’m going to give this set up a try for a few weeks and see how I feel. Already I feel like I need to be doing something more productive with my legs while standing so I’m looking at maybe adding something like an balance board to my set up (plus it’ll prep me for snowboarding season). I think the next step is to craft a fully adjustable desk with hidden storage for hard drives, wire management, etc. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted!


All Readdle Apps on Sale – 48 Hours Only

Readdle makes some of my favorite productivity apps on the iPhone and iPad. Most notably, I use PDF Expert and Scanner Pro A LOT when I’m out in the field doing business.

Today is Readdle’s 5th birthday and to celebrate they are offering 70% off their apps! If you’ve been looking at these apps but have been holding off on making a purchase get on it now as the sales only lasts 48 hours!

iPad Apps

PDF Expert – Film Forms, annotate PDFs
Category: Productivity
Price: $9.99 -> $4.99

 

Scanner Pro by Readdle (Universal – iPhone + iPad)
Category: Productivity
Price: $6.99 -> $1.99

 

ReaddleDocs for iPad (documents/attachments viewer and file manager)
Category: Productivity
Price: $4.99 -> $.99

 

PDF Convertor (Save Documents, Web Pages, Photos to PDF)
Category: Productivity
Price: $6.99 -> $1.99

 

iPhone Apps

PDF Expert – Fill forms, annotate PDFs
Category: Productivity
Price: $9.99 -> $4.99

 

ReaddleDocs (documents/attachments viewer and file manager)
Category: Productivity
Price: $4.99 -> $.99

 


You DO NOT Need to Manage Your iPhone’s Multitasking

This is a concern that comes up frequently when I’m working with clients or just talking to other iPhone users and I was reminded of it today while reading an article over at Daring Fireball.

If you’re not already aware of it, those running iOS 4.0 or higher have the ability to quickly move between previously used apps. Double-tapping the home button will bring up a list of your previously used applications, allowing you to quickly switch between recently-used apps without having to hunt them down on your home screen every time you want to launch them. There is a misconception however that these apps are “running” in the background.

There is one iOS “tip” that I keep hearing and it is wrong. Worse, I keep hearing it from supposedly authoritative sources. I have even heard it from the lips of Apple “Geniuses” in stores.

Here is the advice – and remember it is wrong:

All those apps in the multitasking bar on your iOS device are currently active and slowing it down, filling the device’s memory or using up your battery. To maximise performance and battery life, you should kill them all manually.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. There are caveats to this but anyone dispensing the advice above is clearly uninformed enough that they will certainly not be aware of these subtleties.

iOS multitasking

A lot of people hold the belief that those icons you see in the dock are “running” in the background and slowing down their phone. While this might be true for other smartphones, this is not the case with iPhones or iPads. When you exit an app, your the iphone essentially creates a “snapshot” of the current state of that app and the phone returns the app to that state when the app is re-launched. The app is NOT constantly running in the background, they essentially go into a hibernation state.

So stop worrying about “apps running in the background”. Occasionally I’ll run into someone who has an iphone glitch and closing out all the apps in the multitasking tray fixes the issue, but this is a rarity and usually only happens when people have had multiple apps open in the tray for over a year. iPhones/iPads are designed to be simple, don’t worry about them too much.


Black Friday Deals on Essential Apps

It’s that time of year again where discounts abound and consumers go into a buying frenzy. Below are a few deals I caught for applications and software that I use on a daily basis to be productive in the field.

 

30% off PDF Expert by Readdle [iTunes link] $6.99 – My #1 iPad app for organizing, editing, and annotating PDFs and other documents. It integrates with Dropbox and is extremely useful if you need to make edits to a PDF.

30% off PDF Converter by Readdle [iTunes link] $4.99 – Another iPad app I use if I have a need to convert excel documents or word documents to PDF to make sharing and e-mailing those documents easier. In the past I’ve had to wait until I’m at my computer to convert files into PDFs but now I can do it from the road.

30% off Scanner Pro by Readdle [iTunes link] $4.99 – Have you ever found yourself in a store and wished you could scan a document to PDF right there in the store? Now you can using your iphone’s camera. Take a photo with the software and it will automatically align, optimize, and convert the image to a PDF. Truly a great app. Great for when you need to e-mail a copy of a physical document but you have no way to scan it and don’t want to look lame by sending a photo of it.

50% off 1Password by AgileBits [App Store link] [Windows Users link] $24.99 – This is probably one of my favorite apps of all-time. It’s the first thing I install on every new computer. Using the same dopey six-letter password (“123456” anyone?) for all your online accounts is an increasingly foolhardy habit in today’s hacker-infiltrated world. A better option is to buy you and your loved ones peace of mind with a password system. I’ve spoken to so many people who have to spend 10 minutes trying to figure out their username and password every time they are presented with a log-in screen. Make it easy with 1Password.

50% off 1Password Pro for iPhone/iPad by AgileBits [iTunes link] $6.99 – The iphone/ipad version of 1Password. Syncs with the desktop version so you always have your passwords and other info at-hand if you need it.

30% off Bento by Apple [App Store link] $33.99 – A great personal database program that I have used to track customer/store data. Plenty of great templates for sales reps are built-in or can be downloaded off their site.

 

Get on these as soon as you can. The Readdle apps are on sale through Saturday I believe and 1Password is on sale through Wednesday, Nov 30th.

Happy Thanksgiving!


RIP Steve Jobs


Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry

http://apple.com/stevejobs


Today is World Backup Today

Today is the first ever World Backup Day, a day intended to encourage everyone with a computer to make sure their data is backed up and safeguarded against loss.

As computers and technology become more a part of both our work and personal lives, it becomes increasingly more important to secure and backup the data stored on those devices. A recent study showed that only 15% of computer users back up regularly. Don’t run the risk of losing your entire digital life to a hard drive crash or other tragedy. BACK UP!!

I recommend and follow a 2-tier backup strategy consisting of both a local and online/offsite backup solution.

1. Local Backup

Create a local backup on an external hard drive at your home or office. I have an external drive that I plug in once a week on Sunday and use SuperDuper! to make a duplicate copy of my laptop’s hard drive. If you are on a mac, I highly recommend using SuperDuper! or something similar to make a complete back up of your drive rather than just backing up selective files or folders. The advantage in this is that Apple computers allow you to boot from usb & firewire external hard drives. All you have to do is plug it in, and you’ll see your desktop from the last time you backed up. I’ll describe the importance of this later when I share my own stories.

2. Offsite Backup

So you’ve got your computer’s entire hard drive backed up locally to an external drive in your house. While this is an excellent start and you’re already ahead of probably 90% of everyone else out there, a local backup is still susceptile to theft, floods, fires, and other natural disasters and tragedies. If your house were to burn down with both your laptop and backup drive, you’d be out of luck. It’s for this reason I also recommend an offiste backup where your files are stored either online or on a physical hard drive in another location (for example at work or a friend’s house). Read the rest of this entry »


Tools for ExpoWest 2011

Heading to ExpoWest next week? Between meetings, show floor time, and other duties your time can be limited. Are you prepared to be as efficient as you possibly can?

Travel Planning

“Shoot! Where’s that hotel confirmation e-mail? What about my flight?”

These are questions I often ask myself in the days leading up to a big trip and often I’ll get e-mails from co-workers wondering if I have confirmation e-mails that I can forward them. Unless you specifically file that information in a special folder in your e-mail program, chances are you’ll never find it in the deluge of messages that is your inbox.

Enter Tripit..

Tripit Logo

If you haven’t heard of it, TripIt is a service that keeps track of all your travel plans. Simply create an account on the TripIt website and whenever you receive travel confirmations, simply forward them to plans@tripit.com and all your information is neatly organized and accessibly in one place. Better yet, if you have a gmail account or use google apps for your domain, you can set it up to automatically put incoming itineraries into your TripIt profile.

The companion mobile apps make everything easily accessible from your phone so you can quickly reference your flights and hotel info. Highly recommended!

 

At The Convention

Once you arrive at ExpoWest, there a multitude of ways to keep yourself organized and focused. First off, if you’re a broker who needs to be spending time at the booths for your companies, I find it a good practice to look up the booth number for those companies and write them down on the back of your convention badge for quick reference. Read the rest of this entry »


TextExpander on sale today!

I’ve been meaning to do a post on this but until I do, you should check out TextExpander as it’s on sale at 50% off over at MacUpdate.

TextExpander allows you to create snippets of text and then create shortcuts to quickly expand those snippets. I most commonly use this when placing orders for stores through email. I always include the store name and address in email orders to ensure it gets to the right account. I’ve set up many of my store addresses in TextExpander with appropriate and easy to remember abbreviations.

For example, I have say Market of Choice no.9 set up in TextExpander with the following snippet:

Market of Choice No.9
67 W. 29th St.
Eugene OR 97405

ORDER:

This is set up to the abbreviation of MOC9. Whenever I type MOC9 anywhere on my computer, the store’s name and address automatically gets inserted along with a return and a bold “Order” text so I can immediately start typing in the order.

You can use this for products as well. Say you have to input product descriptions in your email orders and you have a product like “Vanilla Protein Powder – large”. You can include that description and its item number, price, and any other information you’d like and attach it to an abbreviation “prtnvan-L”.

As of right now it’s Mac-only. Sorry Windows users.

Textexpander is a great piece of software to add to your toolbox and helps to save time and effort in your workflow. It’s on sale for the next 10 hours so get on it!