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Taking Notes for the Road Warrior

I had an email conversation this weekend with a sales rep who is using the economic downturn to get back to the basics (which, in my opinion, is never a bad idea). For him, this includes hand-written thank you cards and writing down leads while he is actually in the field.First, thank you cards. Email is great, and an email thank you can certainly be both professional and an effective communication of your gratitude. However, nothing says “personal” and “class” like a hand-written thank you card. Spend the money, buy a couple nice boxes of cards, and use them like crazy. Get something that you will actually want to send out all of the time.

Second, writing down leads. The field is rich with targets, and much of the time they are easier to identify when driving by than by looking at the imported lead list in your sales force automation software. But, I am not so sure about actually writing them down on a legal pad while driving; it’s not safe, and there are lots of alternatives (plus, if your driving-handwriting is like mine, I am pretty sure you won’t be able to make out what you wrote later anyway).

Alternative 1: Jott (www.jott.com)
I used Jott when it was free. It costs anywhere from $3.95 per month to $12.95 per month now, but it is well worth it for the road warrior sales rep. The biggest advantage for me was the ability to call Jott with the number I have programmed in my cell phone (using bluetooth–safer than holding the phone to your head while driving). I can then rattle off the name of the company and street address, and Jott will transcribe what I dictated and send to me in an email as text. When I get back to the office, I have a lead list from the territory sitting in my inbox.

Alternative 2: Evernote (www.evernote.com)
I am now exploring Evernote. They offer a free version, as well as a premium version which runs $5 a month or $45 per year.

I was intrigued by their iPhone application, which allows you to type a note into the phone, take a picture with the phone’s camera, or leave a voice note. All of these choices are then uploaded into your Evernote notebook on the web. I like the ability to take a picture from the field. You can take pictures of signs or directories and work through them later at the office. Evernote is also cool for taking a picture of business cards, and it can search the text on the pictures of business cards. I believe their apps for Blackberry and other cell phones allow the same functionality.

I am still no power user here. But I like Evernote.

Alternative 3: The Poor Man’s Option
Times are tough, I know. Maybe you don’t want to shell out one thin dime. I understand. What is still as effective as all of the above and absolutely free is your voice mail. Program your office number into your cell phone, and just rattle off company names and addresses until you run out of space. When you get back to the office, you can play your voice mail back and write the leads down in the comfort of your office, or type them into your SFA.

What do you use to capture leads from the field?


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