In August I traveled to Nashville, Denver, CO (twice); Chicago, IL; Charlotte, NC; NYC, Sydney (AUS) and Gold Coast (AUS). I wrote this blog in New Zealand, and had Nerdio stops in Bellevue, WA; Montreal, Canada; Washington D.C; Omaha, NE; Nashville, TN, and my hometown of Boston, MA by month’s end.
When traveling I tend to be very work focused: arrive, accomplish as much as I can, and head home to my family. Yet, I do love to actually explore new places. So, I’ve put some conscious effort this year to blend work and fun experiences when and where feasible.
I’ve cheered on the home team at multiple sporting events, eaten Nashville hot chicken IN Nashville, experienced real Texas barbecue, got a home-cooked dinner by family I don’t see often in their home state, wined and dined at a famous Chicago Steakhouse (Gibson’s), ridden a roller coaster, walked the beach in California (a real treat for an east coast boy!), and heard tornado sirens for the first time ever.
Because I lead our MSP sales team, work hard to bring valuable insights to the MSP and Azure communities, sneak some fun in here and there, and do not get a lot of time in my home office, I am often asked, “How do you do it all and succeed in your role?”
In addition to tips on how sales professionals can best leverage (and manage) events and travel alongside their daily responsibilities – check out my answer to the question below.
Master What You Can Control
When on the road, you are very much at the mercy of others. I have had hotel issues, flight cancellations and delays, and the pleasure of arriving late/early with no place to eat but a vending machine. Flexibility and a great attitude will do you wonders in those situations and are great tools to have in your back pocket. That being said, most times events go (more or less) according to plan.
So, I never go on a trip without a plan. I always read the news of the day before I even get out of bed, both industry specific and not. It’s critical to be informed of what is going on in your industry and the world in order to be a chameleon, be adaptable. I always want to be able to hold an engaging conversation with anyone I meet, which means being informed on a wide range of topics at least at a surface level and a deep level of knowledge on topics related to your business.
By the time I arrive in the city I’m traveling to I generally know how every hour of my time on the road will be spent. My iPhone and Outlook are used heavily in keeping things straight. I block every minute of my day on my calendar when on the road to maximize my time and get things done.
I plan how long it will take from when I land to get to where I need to be, when I can build in time for meetings, catch up on email, eat, sleep (make sure you get enough), do something fun, and travel home.
Lastly, I recommend you make honesty, transparency and dependability your ‘guiding lights’ – they continue to serve me well. These three items, while different, are closely related and the most important qualities to sales success. I am constantly thinking of these qualities and ensuring I meet them at the highest level possible, both internally with my team and externally with my customers and strategic partners.
When you mess up, own it. If someone emails or calls me, I try to reply as quickly as possible and I try to treat everyone I interact with like family.
Intelligently Leverage Your Tools + Your Team
Our Nerdio sales engine doesn’t stop because I’m on the road teaching a group of MSPs about Azure. I have countless emails, meetings (internal and external), demos, and team management responsibilities that still need to get done. I navigate this by blocking out my time and being efficient. I use mobile apps for all the major tools we use at Nerdio such as our CRM system, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, and text.
If I’m at the airport, my laptop is usually open or I’m on the phone. I make it a point to clear out my emails at the beginning of every flight. Once that’s done, I can relax or catch up on sleep until I arrive. I also try to clear my inbox every night before I go to bed so in the worst case, folks will get a reply from me the same day. One tip that’s served me well in this regard is to get as many cell numbers as possible because people tend to reply to texts faster than email in many cases.
The other big recommendation I have to ensure you get the things done you need to is do not be afraid to ask for help. Just like the saying goes, ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ it takes a team to build a company. I lean on my colleagues often to help get work done where applicable, and I feel comfortable doing so.
We have a world-class events team internally that really helps take the stress off our salespeople when it comes to travel and planning our Nerdio hosted events like our free one-day Training Camps. Some of their tactics that contribute to my, and my team’s, success include sending a Know Before You Go (KBYG) and blocking off our in-person time for us. The KBYG email is sent the day before any event we do. It includes need-to-know information about who is attending, important times, addresses, lead capture, speaking sessions and anything else pertinent.
In addition, our team sends calendar invites weeks in advance for everything pre-scheduled they can – meetings, presentations, and even booth time at a tradeshow.
A Parting Thought
While the focus of this article is from a business and performance perspective, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this next part. I really recommend planning and reserving time with your family, pets and friends if you’re traveling for work on a weekly or monthly basis. Time is something you can never get back or make up.
It’s easy to miss out on this time while you’re home because there is so much to catch up on like laundry, cleaning, haircuts, car maintenance, etc. You think, “I’ll have time with my family when I’m back home next,” but that doesn’t always turn out to be the case. Everyone has their own schedule to maintain so you must arrange schedules. And your kids aren’t going to look back on folding clothes and socks as one of their favorite memories with you – so plan the ones they will now 😊
Personally, I rely heavily on my calendar and make it a point to build in a lot of fun time with these important groups. I try to be home every weekend with at least one activity planned with my family, and one with friends.