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Think: Multi-channel Marketing Masterminds
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A Day in the Life of Strategic Account Manager: Bill Beard

Bill Beard likens his job to that of an air traffic controller.

He can’t lose sight of the prop planes or the Boeing 747's, and they both require his sharpest focus so they don’t come crashing down.

The Highlands Strategic Account Manager, based in Florida, works exclusively with a Mega-Reseller (or Mega, for short) in the US.


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On a typical day, Bill starts his morning like most of us do

:

waking

up early, enjoying that first cup of coffee and clearing out the bulk of his email before leaving for the office.

He tackles, what he calls, his daily business: pricing changes, UPC discrepancies, answering questions about products and connecting a client to the Mega before moving on to logistical, legal, content and supply chain issues.

After another cup of coffee or two, Bill then reviews more strategic initiatives like: laying out and complying with promotional calendars, aligning goals and strategies and taking advantage of all the tools available in the four channels (digital, commercial, contract and retail)

With 

the change from morning to afternoon

also comes yet another shift in focus
. Bill calls these larger picture things: meetings with Highlands marketing team, or clients themselves, or merchants, or the client’s replenishment team, or launching a new opportunity or closing a new opportunity. This is the time that he delineates for greater follow up pieces.

For Example: New client onboarding has a particular process. Bill is continually aligning himself with the Mega’s strategies and finds the niche that each client will fill in order to be approved.

Each client’s product line he works with is strategically built. He doesn’t just load in new products, he solves customer pain points and provides real solutions in the current offering. This builds incremental sales and doesn’t steal sales from another supplier.


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What he says further differentiates his work are the other offerings that come with a Highlands partnership: back-end support, a qualified, seasoned and national field source and a marketing team that is the best out there. It’s a lot of collaboration and team effort. He doesn’t work in a silo


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However, what really makes Bill special is his relationship with the Mega. He doesn’t just get meetings, he absolutely engages in the business. Bill’s deep understanding of the account’s landscape and goals allows him to provide assets that are easily executable and give them solution-based proposals.


After heading home, Bill rounds out his day

by spending time working on the Client’s intranet system. This includes anything from: updating pricing, to working on forecasting, to uploading new items and content, to pulling documents for EDI compliance guidelines.

Clients depend on me to manage the portal for them. The Mega trusts me because they know I have the experience.” 

And with more than 30 years in the industry, Bill has unmatched experienced working with this account. Add that in with the rest of his team at Highlands and he’s providing a total business solution - bringing value to the clients, as well as the Mega, by successfully launching new, innovative products and technologies that will enhance the customers shopping experience resulting in greater sales growth and a stronger partnership for both organizations.


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Bill Beard

Strategic Account Manager

AmberClausi

Amber Clausi Joins Highland as an Account Manager in the Western Region

November 13, 2018

Highlands is pleased to announce Amber Clausi as the new account manager for Southern California, Arizona and Las Vegas Markets. Amber’s prior experience includes an extensive background at Office Depot/Max as a Major Accounts and Vertical Market Manager. Amber managed a $6 million book of business and has experience selling Highlands Manufacture Partners in both the Office Products and Jan/San Category.

“Along with enthusiasm, Amber brings over 15 years of diverse experience to this role,” said Joe Victoriano, District Manager, Western Region. “She is poised to make an immediate impact on our business in the Western Market.”

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The (not so) Scary Truth about CX

You don't have to trick your customer, just treat them like humans.


Customer Experience (CX) is dead. That’s right, you heard me. Placed in a coffin, buried 6 feet deep and topped with a gravestone. Dead. 

In the mausoleum next to CX lies its famed predecessor: User Experience (UX).

So what does your brand need to focus on now? It’s actually quite simple: humans. We propose that in order to build a successful relationship between your brand and your consumer, you need to speak humanly and directly to them. Everything in between (whether it’s bad or it’s good) is just noise.

It sounds so simple. But sometimes we forget that our company is built and run by humans and our customers are, at the end of the day, people too. Why not speak to them that way?


Is it really that easy?

Actually, no. I’ll explain:

Nowadays, customers expect the UX standard and are even used to the CX standard. Because of this, they have higher expectations of the companies from whom they choose to purchase products and services. Today, people value corporate conscience. Meaning: companies need to have AND portray their values in a real and authentic way. We believe, this is increasingly as important to consumers as: cost, quality and customer service.

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How do companies start thinking like a human?

In order to portray our humanity to our customers, companies must first organize around purpose. It’s all about the emotional connections. Your purpose should give your customers a reason to believe in your brand. This is followed closely by authenticity. If you don’t convey your purpose authentically, then consumers will see right through the facade. 


Is it time to ghost on CX?

We certainly aren’t saying that you should say boo to your current UX and CX strategies completely. But you should definitely consider this more holistic, human-centric perspective. Never forget there is a human being at the end of your supply chain. And, we’re here to help you get started.

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Highlands Adds Two New Account Managers To Field Sales Team

Highlands welcomes the addition of two Account Managers in Texas: Rachel Croll and John Richardson. Collectively they bring over 35 years of experience in account growth to the Highlands Field Sales team.

 

Rachel’s vast experience with OfficeMax, Grainger and Uline, along with her outstanding reputation in the industry, makes her an excellent fit for this role. Her wealth of knowledge in Office Products and Facility Supplies will allow for further development of the territory.

 

John has an immense sales background which began in pharmaceutical sales and leadership roles, and he most recently served in a management role for a large independent dealer in the OP industry.

 

“We are excited to have Rachel on our team, and as she lives in Houston, she’ll be based in one of the fastest growing cities in the US,” said June Schmidt, Vice President Field Sales, Northeast and South Regions. “Out of Dallas, John’s background and experience make him a great addition to the Highlands team. John will play a key role in providing high quality solutions and support for our customers and vendor partners.”

 

“The investment in highly skilled people plays a key role in helping accelerate sales for our clients,” said Bob O’Gara, CEO of Highlands. “It’s also imperative that we bring in people with experience both inside and outside the Office Channel so we can provide a greater breadth to our overall value proposition.” 

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New Strategic Approach and Augmented Reality Technology Gives FireKing Cutting Edge Catalog

Seeking to refresh their outdated product catalog and align it with their guiding principles, FireKing Security Group turned to the strategy experts at Highlands.

The Client

FireKing Security Group is a leading manufacturer of best-in-class security products for asset protection in retail, commercial, and home office environments, using the most innovative, advanced product development technology available.

The Challenge

FireKing was seeking a fresh approach to their previous catalog strategy that would provide genuine insights into their products and complement their innovative and advanced product technology.

The Highlands Difference

Starting with the WHERE, Highlands repositioned FireKing’s product range into vertical markets (Commercial, Home/Small Office, Education, Hospitality, etc.) so both their sales people and their customers can see HOW FireKing's products apply in their particular environment.

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Utilizing Augmented Reality (AR) through a partnership with Blippar (a leading AR and computer vision technology company), Highlands integrated interactive content for each channel and throughout FireKing’s catalog. 

Through the Blippar app, users can access and easily share further product information and content (including videos, PDF's and more) as they navigate through the catalog. This new technology redefines the way people discover, experience and interact with FireKing’s products - first showing them the WHERE and HOW and then giving them access to the product detail, or the WHAT.4

The Results

In their industry, FireKing has a first-of-its-kind, interactive catalog that is aligned with its innovative products. FireKing unveiled this cutting-edge marketing approach at NeoCon, a commercial design trade show.

“Our dealers and retailers were energized with the application and saw tremendous opportunity to bring a catalog and its products to life,” said Will Wolf, FireKing’s Executive Vice President of Office and Consumer Products. “We rely on Highlands as a strategic partner as they always bring the best ideas and execution to the table.”

Highlands is already working with FireKing to execute the second phase of this project which includes even more advanced technology innovations for their catalog as well as an in-store AR experience at one of the leading office product resellers.

Read more about Highlands’ “Not WHAT, but WHERE and HOW” approach in our recent blog post.

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Parlaying a New Brand into over $1.5M in Sales

To increase U.S. shredder sales, particularly through the Office channel, Krug & Priester partnered with Highlands to position products in front of key players.

The Client

Krug & Priester GmbH is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of shredders and cutting equipment.

The Challenge
Having partnered with Highlands to create a new brand for their shredders, Krug & Priester knew that they had to get their new marketing assets in front of key players—and shift product.

The Highlands Difference

Realizing the Office channel was already saturated with long-established brands, and that the wholesaler and dealer groups were locked for the foreseeable future, Highlands identified key channel partners that could help move the needle. Utilizing longstanding and trusted industry relationships, Highlands demonstrated the excellent products and communicated the newly created, unique brand positioning. In addition, Highlands ensured digital and print collateral (website, brochure, sell sheets and event materials) were available and on-hand, and could easily be deployed through our new partners.

The Results

Within 16 months of the launch, Krug & Priester experienced a steep upward sales curve, already surpassing our three-year sales goal with an annualized run-rate of sales of $1.6 Million, and they continue to grow. 

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