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

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!


Turn Your Pen Into an iPad Stylus

Pen Stylus

The MORE/REAL stylus is a cool creation from product designer Don Lehman that is designed to turn your average ballpoint pen or sharpie into a stylus that can be used on touchscreen devices. I know some of you use your iPads with apps like PenUltimate to input notes and orders and using a stylus should greatly improve your note-taking speed and readability over writing with a finger on the device.

Go check out the Kickstarter Campaign and help support this project. Backers get a chance to pre-order the product that will ship when it becomes available.


My workflow environment: A Disclaimer

So before we head into some of the bigger posts I wanted to describe my workflow environment. I am very much an Apple person; I work from both a Macbook Pro and an iPhone. That being said, the majority of my technology-related posts will be coming from a mac perspective. So those that work on macs or use an iphone will be best served by this blog. Whenever possible I will try to mention if the software I discuss is compatible on other computer platforms and/or smartphones. If not I will try to offer alternative suggestions if available. If you know of something that you prefer more or would make a great alternative on another computing platform, let me know in the comments.

I’d also like to mention that I have been a natural products sales rep for over 2 years and am by no means an expert in the field. I am eager and willing to hear any thoughts or suggestions on tools or methods that you find useful. Hopefully this website will be a place where we can all learn a few things together.


Making Sales: More Science Than Art

Some sales organizations treat key account planning as though it’s an art rather than a science. I think it’s a science. Even if they treat it like a science, many companies don’t really understand it really well or don’t have a systematic way to applying it to their organization.

– Sales Roundup Podcast

I was listening to an episode of the SalesRoundup Podcast the other day that was discussing and giving advice on Key Account Planning. The quote above really hit me and made me realize that I try as often as possible to approach sales as a science. There are so many tools and and strategies available to you as a sales rep that it becomes possible to break making sales into smaller steps and tasks and allows you to tailor your apporoach to achieve the highest rate of success.

This is what I hope to achieve in this blog; to be show you the tools you can use to break account & client management down to a science so you have all the information you need at your fingertips in order to make a calculated and strategic approach at each store you visit. If you do keep an ipod with you in the car while driving around to your accounts, I recommend the podcast mentioned above. I subscribe [iTunes link] to it in iTunes and it automatically puts new episodes on my ipod that I listen to when driving around the state. I only recently started listening, but I’ve gotten some great tips so far.

Happy Selling!


Hello world!

Welcome! I started this blog to cover some of the technologies and tools I use in my day-to-day workflow as a sales rep in the natural products industry. I’m fairly new to the industry and rather young at that, so I am constantly making an effort to incorporate new ideas & technology to aid me in being a better sales rep. I look for ways to keep track of important details about clients that help give that personal touch and look for the best ways to make sure I have any and all information I might need available to me. For any reps that find this site, I hope that the tips contained within are useful to you.

I value your feedback so if you have any questions, comments, or things you’d like covered just let me know in the comments.

-Brian