Here are a few of my favorite Apps going into 2019! Please hum this song while reading.
Email: By far, GSuite from Google is the best email system out there. Best overall spam filtering, best phishing attack detection, fastest...must I go on? You can use online via a browser or your favorite email client like mac mail or (God forbid) Outlook. $5 a month per user. Well worth it...includes phone support from Google! Full disclosure: I used to work @Google when GSuite launched...it was our internally created email doc share system initially. Start with this one. Nervous about switching? PM me. Are you a one person shop and want a free version without support? Just use Gmail.
eCommerce Sites: Shopify. I've been working with them since 2013. Was able to create a very unique Password Protected Share the Love Pro Deal site for a Smartwool Sales Agency for my first one. Easiest/quickest to implement and can scale up to pretty large sites (btw, that one is still in use). Lots of templates to choose from and tons of 3rd party add-ons that are affordable. Inexpensive on a monthly basis and is something business owners could run themselves (if they choose to learn it). My first choice for eCommerce sites currently. Direct to Consumer and b2b commerce.
Content Driven Websites: Squarespace. It was originally designed for artists and musicians. As such, it handles images and video/audio files very well. As much of our online marketing is image driven, Squarespace is a relatively easy platform to build websites with and is mobile/phone/tablet compatible out of the box. I dare you to try and mess it up...almost impossible. It has advance integration with a number of 3rd party products to include Zapier (considered glue between different platforms) and Acuity which I think is the current gold standard for scheduling. www.squarespace.com . Between Squarespace, Wix and others, there is no reason for Sales Agencies not to have a website by now. If you aren't marketing your sales agencies...with the minimum of a website, how can a brand expect you to properly market their products and give current advice to your retailers??
Retailer Relationship Management (RRM): I use a customized version for Outdoor Reps from KarmaCRM. I think I have worked with almost all contact managers and Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM) at this point. I started out with Salesforce way back when it was itty bity...even got to help deploy it to the first group within Google (Google Enterprise). It is a good tool for hunter gatherer type reps. It is terrible for relationship selling which (should be) predominates in the Outdoor Retail industry. Karma does a great job tracking about everything..especially relationships. It is what I deploy for the sales agencies I support. Fantastic Mobile App. I have reps who are using it to track pre-seasons and their follow ups with retailers. If you are still using Excel, it is time to step it up to the current century..seriously. Excel is great for crunching numbers..terrible for contact/relationship management. www.karmacrm.com . I think every Sales Director interviewing Sales Agencies should ask Which RRM are they using? Current century rep or last?
What kind of computer should you use?Well...I've had PCs, Macs (several)...and now I'm on a Google Pixelbook (don't suggest unless you Really want one..but I do love mine). Everything I do is in the cloud so it is a good fit for me..but I'm not standing in front of a glass display in the middle of the mountains typing up an at once order either. In general, a 13" laptop (pick PC or Mac) and an external monitor/keyboard/mouse for at home. I just sold my 2012 macbook pro for $600 to an online repurchaser which to me is amazing. I think Dell is the gold standard (8Meg of ram min) for PCs and for Mac, I think the Macbook pro is the way to go.
Phones: iPhone or Android? Whichever you like the best. I have Google Pixel 2 that I really like a lot. Many if not most of the reps I work with have the current or previous iPhone.
Virtual phone number. I live in Sarasota, FL but have a Napa Valley phone number. How? (an even better question is why?) A service called Dialpad. Virtual phone system you can use with your computer and a headset and/or your cell phone. Great for sales agencies or small/startup Outdoor Retail brands if you want to have virtual unifying phone service. Your pick your area code/phone number. Automatically forwards your calls to any device you choose. I lost my phone in the Gulf of Mexico a few months ago...never missed a call as it still rang on my other devices until I got a replacement phone. $15 a month (your get 2 phone numbers) and $10 a month virtual fax. Been using it since they came out in 2014.
Free conference calls: Check out www.uberconference.com They have a paid version that doesn't require a pin but the free version works great. You can share screens too!!
Marketing Automation: Hatchbuck . By far the easiest and most affordable for what it does in my opinion. Automations, scheduled sends, scoring (very big deal so any of this is actually actionable) decent unsubscribe management. A mini contact manager built in...plenty for prospecting. Pretty easy to use once you get your arms around it.
Email Marketing only: You can't go wrong with Mailchimp. As long as you keep your contacts below 2,000, it is free. Unfortunately, once you get past that, you pay. 2,000 contacts seems like a lot but they double count when you use multiple mail lists. Their $10 a month plan though is probably the way to go to get started.
MAP pricing monitoring/enforcement. Nothing is worse for a rep than the earful or buckshot they receive from a brick and mortal retailer unloading on them because of massive unsustainable predatory pricing (get the picture?) online discounting from pureplay online retailers, AMAZON, Ebay..pick your poison. 1st off, have a MAP policy...2nd off have a mechanism to monitor and enforce..otherwise quit saying your MAP policy is effective because it isn't. Manual monitoring doesn't work anymore...it's lip service at best and nobody is fooled. Look at www.orisintel.com . They know what they are doing and work with quite a few Outdoor brands already. They already work with a lot of bike brands so you know they can't be too expensive (bike industry joke probably not funny right now.) The reps I work with whose brands are using it are happy it's there. Solid MAP process provides competitive differentiation to retailers with all the me-too brands that can pop up.
Email me with any questions email@example.com
Ex-Googler Bike & Kayak dude