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Think: Multi-channel Marketing Masterminds
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Thelma Ferrara Joins Highlands As Territory Sales Manager

February 12, 2019


Highlands is happy to announce Thelma Ferrara as the new Territory Sales Manager in the South Florida market. Thelma comes to us with an extensive background in distribution and manufacturing, with a proven track record of high performance and success. 


“We are thrilled to have Thelma on our team,” said June Schmidt, Vice President Field Sales, Northeast and South Regions. “Her experience and background are perfect for the role. Plus, having worked with a Highlands client in the past will allow for a seamless integration into the team, and very quickly she will play a key role in supporting our clients and partners.”   

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Change is the Consistent

A metaphysical sit down with VP of Sales for Canada, Tony Laprocina

 

 “The only constant in life is change.” You’ve probably heard this saying before. Did you know it originated with the philosopher, Heraclitus? In our industry, it’s just as true today as it was in 500 BC.


Vice President of Sales, Tony Laprocina, knows this at his core. He’s worked in the office products industry in Canada for over 20 years. For Highlands, he oversees the field sales team across all of Canada.


What is the major landscape of the Canadian market? “Things are changing,” says Tony. That includes: where product is available in the marketplace, how customers make purchasing decisions, and everything in between. There is a lot of dynamic change.


Staying on top of these changes is critical to his team’s success. “If we do the same things we’ve done in the past and hope that we generate new business, it won’t happen. If we keep evolving, then we succeed.”


Back to Heraclitus. The philosopher, in so many words, hypothesizes: 

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Tony encourages his team to be fearless in their approach by staying away from “traditional” sales tactics. He is a lead-by-example kind of guy. He shares best practices with his team from his perspective and insights from his vast experience. He’s a good listener and he subscribes to an open door policy.


Tony brings his listening skills to his accounts. Building relationships with them and engaging in conversations regularly means that he hears where they’re struggling and actively listens for opportunities to be a solution provider.


 “We don’t just set up trainings with free doughnuts and coffee and then forget the follow up. We generate actual business results.” 


Highlands helps clients crack the Canadian marketplace by pioneering for them.


They act as a true partner by providing national coverage and communication across Canada, through one voice, with the right assets, at the right time.


One more philosophic reference: 

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Tony says accounts can have 30K+ SKUs and can’t possibly understand the intricacies of each product. The Highlands field sales team are subject matter experts and offer solutions for specific verticals or customer bases. This means the accounts can easily see how the products apply in each environment for their customers.


While Canada is not immune to the changing markets, with people like Tony leading the Canadian sales team, Highlands helps clients by successfully navigating through this dynamic environment.

 

Read more about our thinking on vertical market positioning here.

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Highlands Announces a Partnership with Spangler Candy Company

February 1, 2019

Highlands is now representing Spangler Candy Company in the office, hospitality and multi-family channels. Spangler is a fourth-generation, family-owned, private company founded in 1906. Located in Bryan, Ohio, Spangler is one of the largest lollipop producers in the world and the only major candy cane producer in the United States. Spangler is best known for its Dum-Dums® lollipop brand, which have been used by generations of businesses and institutions to welcome and delight customers.

“Highlands is a great fit for Spangler,” said Jeff Scolnick, Spangler Channel Director, Special Markets.  “Their high-calibre national sales team will drive end-user engagement for Dum-Dums through our existing distribution and reseller network.  Dum-Dums is America’s number one lollipop brand and is proven to increase loyalty in retail environments.”   

 “We’re excited to work with Spangler,” said Shannon Blake, Highlands Senior VP, Strategic Accounts. “Dum-Dums, in particular is a fantastic brand and can help companies provide exceptional in-store customer experiences. Our sales team will have great fun generating significant opportunities for Spangler.” 

For more information on Spangler, please visit https://www.spanglercandy.com.
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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

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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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