So You Think it’s Fun?
Having just returned from some early-season trade shows, I am in awe of the commitment my industry colleagues have to help us build our business. I wrote about this some time ago in a commentary entitled, “A Salute to Our Industry Heroes.”
There are many things that make our industry tick. The ability suppliers and distributors have to provide proven effective promotional marketing solutions that meet critical business needs is important. The people in our industry are what drive the marketing impact we have.
I’ve met some great people in our industry. Even though I may only see them a couple times a year at events, good friendships have been developed. Through the wonder of social media, however, we are able to stay in touch throughout the year.
I met Sandy Nichols, MAS, at a PMANC Regional Association showcase in Monterey, Calif., a few years ago. Sandy is a territory manager for an awards company in Minnesota, and she lives in Minnesota, but I always see her in California at events, and at trade shows.
Sandy wanted to share her perspective of life on the road with the FreePromoTips.com community. This is something I couldn’t possibly write. I’m privileged to share with you her thoughts on the life of a traveling supplier rep in our industry. What she writes speaks directly to the personal relationships between suppliers and distributors that make our industry so great:
Chatting with friends over drinks during one of the weeks I am actually at home it comes up again: “So where are you off to next?” “I want your job.” “You’re always traveling to different places.” “So glamorous!” “That must be so much fun!” I try not to roll my eyes or raise my voice but my typical response comes out: “Fun? You think it’s fun! Let me tell you about all the fun you think I’m having.”
The first thing is logistics. After all appointments and travel are booked, we head to the airport. We try to park in the same area so we can actually remember where the car is when we return at the end of the week. Then we are on to flights. They are over overbooked, delayed and sometimes flat out canceled. “Sorry, use the phone over there to rebook. Next!”
You finally arrive at the correct city and get on the fun bus to the rental car facility. There we stand in line again to get into a car that is washed but smells like they just sprayed a can of “new car smell” inside. We arrive at the hotel after room service is over and even the bar has closed. We stand in front of the vending machine weighing our dinner options of a Snickers bar or beef jerky. So glamorous!
We get up the next morning and dive into traffic and, of course, the climate challenges. It’s too hot or too cold, too rainy or too snowy! One time I showed up looking like a drowned rat at an appointment in Seattle. My customer looked at me and smiled and said, “We call that liquid sunshine!” I said, “I’ll go with that” as I accepted the paper towels she handed me to dry off.
But we are like the post office and we travel through it all. We won’t let our customers down! We are promotional product professionals! We arrive with a smile on our face and new product samples in our bags.
We then get to meet with our distributor friends. This is the lifeblood of our industry and what makes our job, well, fun! Yes, we talk business but we also get to catch up a little. “How was your trip?” “Oh my, your son is a senior already?” “Amy had her baby? So cute!” These conversations and meetings are truly what keep us going. Without the distributors friendship and energy we’d be sunk.
We travel the nation from Atlantic City to L.A.—sometimes in the same week! We have friends in almost every state and have enjoyed tasting food and wine with the “locals” as we travel. Personally, I have spent a sunny Sunday afternoon being a tourist in Seattle, sat outside on my hotel room balcony in February to watch the sunset (I’m from Minnesota and we don’t sit outside in February) and I’ve enjoyed dinner by the bay in San Francisco.
We have watched many reunions at airports—from children running down escalators to get to their grandparents, to puppies looking out passenger windows waiting for their “person” to walk through the airport doors, and of course the return of a member of our military finally coming home (where there’s not a dry eye in the crowd.) Balloons, signs, and flowers—it’s beautiful!
And yes, this is all a part of the job we do and love to do! Somehow all the good makes you forget about that canceled flight or that smelly rental car!
So I return to my conversation with friends and say, “You know, my job is fun! And I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
(Written at a Starbucks in L.A. waiting to head to afternoon appointments!)
What Sandy has shared really speaks to the core of how good relationships drive good business. The next time you see your rep at a trade show or in your office consider letting them know how much you appreciate what they do. Give them a big hug!
Jeff Solomon, MAS, is affiliated with a Top 10 distributor company and also publishes FreePromoTips.com, a popular industry resource. The PPAI award winning FreePromoTips.com website and twice-a-month e-newsletters are packed with beneficial information. On the website, you can opt-in to receive these informative twice-a-month e-newsletters! Check out what’s new in the GP2: Good Products—Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of free end-user safe product videos you can share from the YourPromotionSolution.com website. Like the FreePromoTips.com page on Facebook, follow it on Twitter and Pinterest, and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.