by Frank Hurtte
When I set out to write this section on technology self-evaluation, my assistant suggested I review and update an article written some time ago. I took a look at it, made some minor changes, and submitted it back to her for upload. Her emailed response took me by surprise. She flat out “refused” to post it, risking what she felt was insubordination. In fact, she felt the relevance of the piece fit more with 2010 rather than 2012. I do pay her to help me look good, so I was glad she didn’t post it.
Let’s think back to a time when your rolodex was your best friend. When quotes took days or even weeks to put together and send to a client. When being on the road, away from your desk phone, meant singing along with the radio rather than returning phone calls. Think about the trunk load (and backseat load) of catalogs that were a permanent fixture in your vehicle? Any time we wanted to go somewhere as a family, we had to use my wife’s car because mine was too full of dusty, heavy catalogs. My assistant talks of a time when she and her mom would sort her father’s invoices at the end of the year. It took all weekend and every surface of the living room.
Things were simpler then, but not easier. And now with technology exploding at every turn, we are bombarded with new ideas on how to make our lives better now. Really, we’re just made to think that we should be able to get a lot more done in a given day than ever before. Any stoplight is for checking our voicemail. Our drive time is for returning phone calls. A quick lunch is now a full on work session with reading email, syncing calendars, and catching up with social media. By the time our day is over, we’re exhausted. Yet, many of us keep our phones turned on and continue to receive and check messages in to the evening. Instant access to information is the key to being the best in the business. There is little room for patience anymore.
The trouble with technology is by the time we report that something is wonderful, a newer, better version is released. By the time we learn a new software version or design program, it’s obsolete in some markets. We always hear how we live in a disposable society, but this type of thing costs companies a lot of money. How can you keep up with the times without personally going bankrupt? We’re mostly referring to individual sales people, not corporate inventory or payroll systems. How can the “little guy” maintain all of his information without jumping on the first release of all new products? Do we absolutely need all of these latest gadgets to stay on top?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes…to a point. There is much you can do with just a cell phone, an email account, and a pad of paper. But the inherent sales person in you can only rise above so far on this alone.
Once again, we’re using a 1-10 scoring system:
Give yourself a 1 if:
Give yourself a 3 if:
Give yourself a 5 if:
Give yourself a 7 if:
Give yourself a 10 if:
Extra Credit: For those of you who truly go above and beyond (and likely rarely vacation to balance your work life), you get extra credit if you have a portable printer in your car to print invoices and schematics while on site.
So while it is not necessary to have a tablet and smartphone, it sure helps make you a shining star in your client’s eyes!
I developed a similar list in 2005, 2007, and 2010. For instance, back in 2005, I recommended every sales person acquire a cell phone- even if they had to pay for it out of their own pocket. Just 7 years later, it sounds silly to even suggest it. If you aren’t operating at a level 5, you may be obsolete in 2014. Don’t be.
Frank Hurtte, founder of River Heights Consulting, brings 28 years of distribution industry experience and a lifetime in sales. Reach him at (563) 514-1104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.