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BY Dan Weltin, Editor-In-Chief
SponsorsAccording to Bruce Browne, 25-year sales veteran for Penn Jersey Paper Co. (PJP) in Philadelphia, information should always be at one’s fingertips.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that when I get in front of a customer to never be at a loss for being able to provide them with the information they are looking for,” he says.
As a road warrior, this meant Browne needed to create a “mobile office.” In the 1980s, customers would see him pull-up in a full-size van — the only vehicle big enough to accommodate floor machines and carpet extractors for demonstrations, with enough room left over for storing product literature, manufacturer catalogs and client notes.
“Bruce was famous for having milk crates full of information in the back of his vehicle filed by customer, by catalog, by marketing materials, whatever,” says Glenn Harbison, marketing and advertising director for PJP. “We used to tell the sales guys, ‘Go look at Bruce’s trunk. That’s what you want to emulate as a new sales guy.”
Over time, the mobile office evolved: Browne’s van became an SUV and the milk crates became a computer. Technology is extremely important to Browne. He was the first at PJP to embrace laptops after winning one in a sales contest. He continually brought it back to the IT department requesting more memory after filling it up with sales materials and client data. Now, with smartphones and tablets making information increasingly more accessible on-the-go, Browne is even less reliant on the printed page.
“I don’t think I’d be able to work without technology,” says Browne. “I try to stay ahead of it. It’s always intrigued me, all the new devices I can use to improve my job and make my life easier.”
Browne used to have to carry giant literature books to each client just to show them a variety of product options. Now, if a customer asks about a new product, Browne can simply bring up a picture or a PDF on his iPad. If the client likes it, Browne can place an order right then and there.
Browne’s most innovative use of technology came after landing a chain of 23 assisted living facilities. He wanted to put together a training program, but needed a way to reach a mass audience on a continual basis. His solution: produce his own video.
Partnering with Harbison, the pair shot footage at the nursing homes featuring some of the facilities’ own staff members using the new products. They captioned it in English or Spanish and uploaded it to the Internet for easy access whenever somebody needed training.
“I don’t know how else you would reach so many people at the same time,” says Harbison. “(With the video) you’re able to train and show customers the right way to clean, using the correct chemicals and the correct tools.”
Utilizing the latest gadget isn’t the only reason for Browne’s success. Whether it’s printed or available digitally, information needs to be organized and easy to access.
“What I’m trying to get across to new salespeople is that you’re never going to grow unless you’re organized,” says Browne. “I see so many sales reps walking around with a tablet here and a pocket this and notes here and notes there. They never remember where anything is. The whole idea is the more organized you can become, the less work you have to put into it on a regular basis.”
New hires would be wise to pay attention. Browne’s organizational skills have helped him twice win Sales Rep of the Year and become an inaugural member of the prestigious President’s Club. In 2013 Browne had his best sales year, earning him membership in the elusive 4 million dollar club.
“Few people hit the 4 million mark and it’s rare that it’s a jan/san guy. Normally it’s a foodservice guy who has a couple of national accounts,” says Harbison. “For him to do that with street business speaks volumes.”
POSTED ON: 2/13/2013