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Bringing Out the Best in Brands

Want to accelerate your sales? Think Highlands.

No labels. Just results.

We're not like any other agency.  We are a 'rep group' but we are so much more.  We are a sales and marketing agency that helps manufacturers accelerate sales in existing and new markets. 

Our obsession is getting your products into the hands of consumers, quickly, cost effectively and ahead of your competitors.  Not only do we help you build a strategic sales and marketing plan but we execute it for you too.  We are truly your partner from beginning to end, and the next beginning...

Clients can access a range of services from sales representation, e-Commerce management, strategic planning, digital and traditional marketing through to selling into some of the world's largest and best distributors and retailers.

Want to know more?  Then get in touch.

Supporting your brand to maximize your sales.

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Marketing

Whether its design or production, digital or print, Highlands can help.  Our in-depth knowledge of e-commerce and catalog owners' requirements makes us experts in content creation too. We ensure your work is 'on brand', 'on time' and 'on budget'.
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Let us develop and manage your strategic blueprint alongside you.  Our INSIGHT -PLAN - EXECUTE - OPTIMIZE methodology helps navigate the journey, deliver against expectations and ensures there's a process for continual improvement
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Highlands has highly skilled and experienced sales people who will maximize the presence of your brand with key resellers and help grow your sales.

Supporting your brand to maximize your sales.

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Our team have trusted relationships with all the largest accounts means that Highlands can get your products listed quickly and build plans to accelerate sales.
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Highlands brings you a trusted and personalized eCommerce strategy to complement your traditional routes to market, growing your digital presence and online sales.
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Our great team ensures we deliver on our promises.  Full content management, content creation, re-purposing of collateral and driving promotional activity are just part of what our team helps with.
Articles

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My dream of the perfect incentive scheme

June 27, 2017

 

Over the years I have seen many and varied commission plans, incentive schemes and bonus structures.  All of them have had merit, some have failed, many have worked but none has been perfect.  The reality is that the perfect scheme probably doesn’t exist although that doesn’t mean we can’t make it as near perfect as we can.  I dream of that perfect scheme....

 

Here are a few things you may want to think about.

 

Clarity  - Be clear on exactly what it is you wish to achieve.  Is it to grow sales?  Improve margin? Remember your initiative is meant to change behavior, so make sure it does.

 

Alignment - Ensure the objectives of the organization are aligned to the objectives set out in your scheme.  This may seem straightforward however there are often conflicting objectives between management, sales or channel partners which you need to consider.

 

Achievable - Whilst you want your targets to be stretching you need to ensure they are attainable.  If a sales person doesn’t believe they can hit a target, then there’s a good chance they won’t.

 

Make it Matter - The reward must match the achievement.  Small target, small reward.  Big target, big reward.  If the reward isn’t seen as being sizeable enough, then the achievement of the target won’t be motivating.

 

Avoid Internal Conflicts - If there is a need for two people or groups to work together to achieve something and they carry different targets that may deter them from cooperating, then try to remove the conflict.  If not, inertia may reign.  You may even have to consider paying double commission if it’s the right thing to do for the business.

 

Avoid Channel Apathy  - Ensure your partners are fully engaged and that they feel suitably rewarded for their efforts.  They’re likely to have choices about which promotions or incentive schemes to run with so make it worthwhile, and if you can, fun.

 

Go Public - Good salespeople are competitive by nature.  Post targets and results publicly.  The desire to be ‘top dog’ will drive extra effort.  Make sure to keep the board up to date.  People lose interest quickly if it’s always wrong.

 

Be Flexible - The scheme you start with may not be the scheme you finish with.  Don’t chop and change too frequently but be prepared to make changes as your business needs change.  Also, consider short, sharp incentive schemes to boost activity, increase particular focus or product initiatives.

 

Keep it Simple - Try to make sure that everyone understands how the targets are set and how achievement is calculated.  If the salesperson can make a direct correlation between an activity they’ve undertaken and the reward they will receive you’re on to a winner.

 

So, good luck with your scheme.  If you think you’ve created the perfect one, please let me know - I’d love to hear about it!  [email protected]           

 

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Gordon Christiansen

 

Gordon is a 53 year old Australian who was born in Denmark, lived in the UK for 27 years and now wants to live in Atlanta.  After breaking his father’s heart by leaving the family ships’ chandlering business in Fremantle, Australia Gordon embarked on a career in sales and marketing with Pitney Bowes and Canon before investing in and running an office products and graphic arts dealership in London called London Graphic Centre.  Gordon is passionate about getting corporate messaging 100% clear and how alignment between marketing strategy, execution and sales effort will enhance and accelerate market penetration for Highlands’ clients.

 

Outside family, the things Gordon enjoys the most are cricket, Australian Rules football, music and socializing with good friends, good wine and good food.  So, for anyone interested in learning the intricacies of cricket or Aussie Rules I’m sure Gordon can be bribed with a charcuteries plate and a decent red.

 

Gordon is a partner at Highlands.

 

 

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Aligning for Growth

June 12, 2017

Sometimes market conditions change, sometimes you have to change the market conditions.  Regardless of which form of market transformation you face, successful navigation through choppy waters requires alignment.  That’s a broad term, so what do I mean by ‘alignment.’

In one sense, alignment is a go-to-market term.  Alignment of tactics and message across all touch points.  Making sure your point-of-sale programs are aligned with your online efforts.  Making sure your email campaign syncs up with your Groupon programs.  Making sure price points and product assortments are optimized across all platforms.  Tactical alignment is critical, but that can fall apart if there is not alignment of mindset.

Mindset alignment means those developing the strategy and isolating the opportunity fully grasp the reality.  It also means those on the front line (sales) can accurately explain the needs of the market.  The more you align mindset, the better the chances for success.  Those that are truly aligned and share the same vision can adjust to unforeseen situations with near flawless clairvoyance.

In business, going against a large player with a traditional approach is a recipe for disaster.  You’re walking right into their trap as they are massive and built their success on size and scale.  That doesn’t mean they cannot be beat!  To win, you must commit to a changed approach and align to it.  

In our experience, smaller players have a real opportunity as their business model is not predicated on massive in-store traffic.  Buyers have not stopped buying.  On the contrary, they’re buying more than ever.  It’s just that they’ve changed their buying patterns to include a healthy dose of online.  The mega retailers are too committed to their historic approach to adjust.  Much like an aircraft carrier; it takes a long time to turn.

Speaking of naval history, the Battle of Trafalgar is a great example of aligning to a new strategy against a much larger opponent.  That battle pitted an outnumbered British fleet commanded by Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson against the combined French and Spanish armada.  Rather than line up and blast away at each other (where success always went to the larger fleet during this battle of attrition), Lord Nelson saw an opportunity to change market conditions.  He explained his plan to his supporting captains, who then implemented the tactics that forever changed naval warfare.  

Lord Nelson split his battle ships into two parallel lines and T-boned their opponents in two spots, breaking their ranks and leaving them open to their soft spots.  In the end, Lord Nelson sunk or captured 19 enemy ships and lost none and over 13,000 enemy sailors were killed or injured compared to 1,500 for the Royal Navy.  This battle forever sealed Britain’s naval superiority and protected the homeland from imminent invasion from Napoleon.

Sometimes conditions change.  Sometimes you have to change the conditions.  To win in either scenario, alignment of mindset is the first condition that must change.

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Bob O"Gara
CEO 
Highlands

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Floortex: Success with dropship program


Upscale vendor finds success with dropship program.

Beginning in 2008, Highlands leveraged relationships with retail leaders to help build Floortex into a category leader. Now averaging multi-million dollar annual sales, this upscale office and home furniture accessories company is a Highlands success story.

The Client

Specializing in the office and home furniture accessory market, Floortex offers an unrivaled range of products to protect and extend the cleanliness and safety of surfaces. From floors to doorways and desktops, they have an extensive range of upscale polycarbonate and PVC and Eco-friendly mats to preserve every surface, both indoor and outdoor.

The Challenge

Looking to break through to other online retailers, Floortex was limited in its relationship with Staples.com. Dealing with them directly proved challenging, especially when trying to build and manage that relationship from Floortex’s overseas headquarters. 

Floortex contacted Highlands for help breaking through and leveraging their relationship with Staples.com, and to build new assortments in other divisions such as Quill and Staples Advantage. 

The Highlands Difference

Highlands stepped in and bridged the relationship between Floortex and Staples.com beginning early in 2008. By already having rapport established with the top retailers, the Highlands representative effortlessly reached out to the right merchants to partner with Floortex.

By tapping into the trusted reputation and solid foundation offered by Highlands’ key account executive for Staples, Floortex was able to add multiple SKUs on site and develop a best practice drop ship service resulting in repeated years of high double digit growth.

The Results

Floortex saw explosive results, and shot to a position as a category leader for quality, upscale chair mats and similar products. Top merchants now look to them for innovative ideas, styles and features that are unparalleled by other vendors.

Starting in 2008 and continuing through 2016, Highlands has continued to expand the offering multiple times per year until Floortex’s full product assortment was well-established as a direct drop ship program with Staples.com.

With help from the expert team at Highlands, Floortex has seen an average sales increase of 40% year over year and now enjoys catalog page visibility and a prominent presence on all Staples affiliated websites.

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Setting ourselves up to fail

May 30, 2017

This week… Run to the Stop Sign.

Setting ourselves up to fail?


I went jogging with my daughter this weekend.  I use the term “jogging” lightly as it’s mostly walking with a few jogs in between.

Keep in mind, she is a very fit 21-year old, and I am a semi-fit fifty-something (we don’t need to get more specific on either front).  In my mind, I had already determined, I would lag behind and she would win.

Close to a mile in, she challenges me, “let’s run to the stop sign.”  Instinctively, I say, “I don’t like to make goals… it just sets me up to fail.”  Did that really come out of my mouth?  It was exactly what I was thinking.  If I don’t actually set the goal, then I won’t fail. 

How often do we do that in business - avoid making forecasts or setting milestone goals - out of fear of not being able to achieve it?  We won’t feel as bad in our failure if we didn’t set out to do it in the first place.  Yet, will we ever achieve greatness without goals?

She asks me, “why do you stop yourself?”  It’s not that I’m so tired I can’t keep going.  It’s probably because I normally only go this far in one jog, or maybe because I’m bored and just stop?  Is that parallel to my comfort zone?  Maybe I can go a little longer.  Just because she’s 30 years younger doesn’t mean I can’t keep up.

I decided to change my mindset.  “Let’s run to the big yellow sign ahead.”  Keep running… you don’t have to stop… just a few feet more… I can do it!  And, guess what, I did. 

It’s the same in your business and professional life.  What are your limiting beliefs that hold you back?  What more can we accomplish when we set lofty goals, and confidently push through our comfort zone? 

Other than 10,000 steps on my Fitbit, this morning’s jog taught me to:

1.       Set milestone goals

2.       Change to a winning mindset

3.       Push yourself

4.       Surround yourself with people better than you - smarter, faster, fitter

And, then as we neared the end of our jog, she admits her legs hurt.  Yay!  I win!

Janet Collins, a strategic advisor in the office products industry and a long-time collaborator with Highlands.  She works with business leaders to develop growth strategies and mobilize teams to take action and achieve results. She's a coach who's been in your shoes, most recently as President of GMi Companies (Ghent, VividBoard and Waddell). 


Contact Janet at [email protected] or visit www.linkedin/in/collinsjanet.


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