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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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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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The time is always right to do what is right

May 8, 2017


I think it was Tom Hopkins who said sales is “the easiest, lowest paid job in the world, or the hardest, highest paid job”. I’ve probably misquoted the great man but the essence of it is, in my opinion, completely true.


The reference, I believe, was towards hard work and having to deal with rejection.  We all know that high activity rates tend to generate more sales.  We also know that until you ask “the question” you’ll never get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.  Many people are so scared of getting a ‘no’ they never ask “the question”.  Great salespeople will ask “the question” knowing full well they risk a ‘no’. And, rejection hurts…deep.


Because sales people are, of course, always looking for a ‘yes’ they tend to steer the sales process down the path that is most likely to get them an affirmative answer.  Even if it’s not necessarily the best thing for their customer.  I know; shock, horror!


This approach may, or may not, get you the sale. And, in the short term, everyone might be happy -  especially the salesperson.


However, we know that in the mid to long term this is not necessarily going to be right for either the salesperson’s company or their client.  Eventually something will go wrong, and then everyone dives into the contract detail and relationships fall apart.


I write this blog in the final stages of preparing for a big client pitch. The client wants to enter a new (to them), and highly competitive market with their existing brand proposition.  We’ve done extensive research on the client’s behalf and we think they need to make some fundamental changes.  One of those is to adopt a new brand for this market.  And, to complicate matters, they love their brand - of course they do.  We love their brand too, just not for this new market.


So, we have a dilemma.  Do we pitch for what we think is right, or do we pitch what we think they will say ‘yes’ to?


We really like the client and the people we work with, and would like to work with them for many years to come.


Easy then.  Pitch what we think is right.


Watch this space….