Build Online Confidence

Build Online Confidence

Changing Customer Relationships

I consult primarily with distributors with revenues of $10 million and below. This group’s success stems from exceptional customer service and quality products.  Technology has dramatically changed the way these services are delivered. The salesperson’s regular customer visits to catch up on personal and professional information have been replaced by online communications. With so much material available on the internet for their customers, salespeople struggle to add something technically significant to a discussion. Also, digital interactions broaden the time between sales calls, diminishing a rep’s ability to build strong personal relationships. In addition, these trends are of great concern to my distributor clients. They fear losing their long-term, hard-earned customer relationships to the digital world. An important part of the solution to this problem is to build online confidence.

Adapt to Change

To adapt to the changes in the customer experience, learn how to make these digital interactions work for you. Moreover, look at the widespread adoption of technology as an exciting challenge. Find ways to build trust with your customers that differentiate your distributorship from competitive virtual channels.

Build Online Confidence

We all recognize the need for an online presence in the form of a good website. You can’t stop there, however. You need to continually build online confidence by adding more digital tools.

Today, in addition to a website, any serious distribution business also must have business management software known as ERP (enterprise resource planning). Furthermore, business consultants predict that if you don’t have an operational ERP in the next 12 to 18 months you will not remain relevant in today’s competitive digital world.

A functional ERP gives your sales force rapid access to important tools. It provides inventory accessibility, customer finance engagement, digital product information, and other distribution efficiencies. Your team may show initial resistance to an ERP due to concerns of losing control of their accounts. That is generally quickly overcome by the realization that its application improves customer experiences.

Strengthen the Customer Experience

Lastly, once an ERP is implemented, consider the addition of some third-party APIs (application programming interfaces) for eCommerce. APIs can provide improved product descriptions, pricing, and inventory management. These build your online presence and strengthen your ability to provide a great customer experience.

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A Daily Journal, an Invaluable Business Tool

A Daily Journal, an Invaluable Business Tool

Entering all pertinent business-related information in a daily journal is an invaluable tool. It allows you to be organized in your approach to each task as you work your way through the day. In my long career as senior vice president for sales at a distributorship, my journal served as an important tool in helping to shepherd the growth of our company.

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Six actions

Here is an example of a single-page entry from my journal. It describes six actions I recommend you take with your journal.

  1. Date each day with a pencil and draw a line across the page. In this example, I have done so in two places. I like to add down arrows to further distinguish it as a new day.
  2. Bring forward unfulfilled previous requests and add them in the left column. Notice the entries for “STAFF” and their notes related to scheduled staff meetings. “Gary” serves as a reminder to send the company’s past president a New Year’s gift. The entries for “Ken” and “Greg” are notes regarding a supplier and a salesperson, respectively.
  3. List messages and requests including phone calls. When a noteworthy call or personal visit from a potential supplier or customer occurs, be sure to record their phone number and email address. This avoids losing hours trying to recall an encounter later when you might need it.  
  4. Highlight important figures and numbers. This includes pricing or facts that aren’t necessarily transferred to other documents. Highlighting makes entries easier to find. 
  5. Check off all finished business. At the end of the day, review your entries and checkmark those you have completed. This generally brings great satisfaction.
  6. Date journals when completed. Depending on your daily activity, your journal may take six months to a year to fill. Date them when they are complete and save them for future reference. They are a valuable resource.

Commit to journaling                   

When business owners complain that they can’t get their projects completed, I often find they don’t use a journal to record their distractions. Record your thoughts and stay focused on what needs to be done next. Using these six easy steps, make a commitment to journaling.

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Taking Control of the Mind

Taking Control of the Mind

Our mind can be likened to an iceberg. The tip of the iceberg represents the relatively small part of our brain which is our conscious mind. This part can only process two or three thoughts at a time. According to a report by Crystal Reynolds, we have approximately 6,000 views per day (How Many Thoughts Do You Have Each Day? And Other Things to Think About, Crystal Reynolds, Healthline, Feb. 28, 2022). Our subconscious, the large part of our brain that sits below the surface, stores up to five million thoughts and memories. The conscious mind acts on the impulses of our subconscious. Effective planning of daily communications is dependent upon our control of the conscious mind.

Journals and Pocket Planners

A daily journal and a pocket planner are two organizational tools that enable you to order your conscious thoughts so that you are free to concentrate on your present tasks. The purpose of both a journal and a pocket planner is to keep written notes in a single place so you can organize your thoughts. Writing thoughts down allows you to do this. With tasks and appointments recorded, you can focus on the job at hand.

In and Out of the Office

Your journal, generally an  8 ½ by 11 inch or 5 by 8-inch spiral-bound notebook, serves as your business command center and usually stays in the office. I prefer the 5 by 8 inch, available at any office supply store. Your pocket planner, on the other hand, slips into your back pocket or purse. It goes with you when business is off-site. It lets you record important information from meetings and events outside the office. When you are in the office, transfer the notes from your pocket planner to the journal so they are in one central place.

Keep Good Records

Writing in a journal and a pocket planner allows you to be more organized with less stress. Here are some suggestions for good record-keeping in your journal.

  1. Date all entries.
  2. Note personal requests with names or other pertinent information.
  3. List all messages and requests.
  4. Highlight important figures and numbers.
  5. Include email addresses and phone numbers of people you meet even if you don’t intend to move them into your contact list.
  6. Check off all finished business.
  7. Date journals when completed and save them. They provide valuable business history.

Take Control

We need to master the ability to give our undivided attention to the task at hand. Writing thoughts down in your daily journal and pocket planner allows you to do just that. Take control of your mind with a journal and pocket planner, relieve stress, and organize your way to success.

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Organizational Tools

Organizational Tools

Why organize?

What is it that makes being organized a functional way to succeed? To begin, it is important to realize that with every business interaction, your colleagues and customers will feel one of three emotions. They’ll either be delighted, satisfied, or downright disappointed by your actions.

At a seminar given by Bruce Breier of BHB Consulting Services years ago, I learned how to keep your clients happy with organizational tools. Breier says: “It is difficult to delight your customers if you are disorganized at any level.” This is because your associates can feel your disorganization.

Start with good organizational skills

With that in mind, as part of my consulting practice, I begin each assignment by asking the client how he manages key projects. Most share that it takes them too long to achieve results. I find that owners are often juggling 10 to 15 projects at once. My objective is to teach them the organizational skills required to balance their time in order to manage multiple tasks. I start by having them make a mind map that describes each of their projects. Then, I have them prioritize the top five projects with the next steps they need to accomplish for the week. This allows the client to focus on the person or projects most directly at hand.

Use tools

It’s common to have busy days, especially if you’re managing a team. In addition to your regular management tasks, you may have to handle unexpected issues that arise. For example, you may need to resolve a conflict between a sales manager and an underperforming rep or address a customer’s concerns regarding a billing mistake.

Carrying around thoughts of unwritten requests is distracting and you can lose focus. Your body language can make you seem preoccupied. So, in the office put all unscheduled interactions into a daily journal as they occur. Outside the office, enter requests in a pocket planner. All pocket planner notes are transferred to the journal when getting back in the office. By noting all issues in either your daily journal or pocket planner, you avoid distractions. This allows you to give the customer at hand your undivided attention.


The use of organizational tools, like mind maps, daily journals, and pocket planners, in business transactions yields delighted customers and associates. Organization is a functional way to achieve success.

Lock into Success with Discipline and Action

Lock into Success with Discipline and Action

We all look for the best ways to succeed in a competitive economic environment. As a business consultant, I encourage clients to use organizational tools with discipline and action to lock into success.

Two keys to success

Effective time management requires strict adherence to organizational tools. Here’s why.

  1. Discipline: Without a clear plan, it’s hard to be disciplined in your work. To move forward, be religious about recording the specifics of your projects and prioritizing your list of to-do items. The disciplined use of effective organizational systems, like mind maps, journals, and daily planners, enables you to do this. I have developed 10 specific organizational tools, which fall into 4 management categories: Communication, Information, Planning, and Time Management.
  • Action: What good is careful planning if you do not take action on it? Discipline alone accomplishes nothing. To succeed you must do. Furthermore, America’s top business leaders have all demonstrated that, by combining action with discipline, you can achieve enormous success. Consider these examples: Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter), Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Jeff Weiner (CEO LinkedIn), Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors), and Carly Fiorina (CEO of Hewlett-Packard). Take action and become the next great leader.

Discipline and action

We all have multiple tasks to accomplish each day. Yet, we must work within the very human limitation of “doing one thing at a time.” To work within that limit and maximize your effectiveness, you must be disciplined. By removing the clutter of chaos in your schedule, you can focus on accomplishments.In conclusion, a disciplined approach to business allows you to take meaningful actions. Discipline and effort enable you to lock into success.

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