Our latest installment of our Tales from a Road Warrior series highlights Tracia Luther from for Jura Toys, an upscale French toy manufacturer that makes wooden educational toys. Check out how Tracia ditched her laptop and catalogue binders and did a major upgrade to writing orders on her iPad and iPhone.

Wholesale Selling Strategies: An Interview

HS: What do you sell and who do you sell to?  
TL: I sell Janod and Kaloo, two of the specialty toy market’s best toy and baby lines.  I sell to locally owned specialty toy, gift and baby stores.

HS: What territory/region do you cover? In what cycle? 
TL: My territory includes California, Hawaii, and Nevada.  I see my customers quarterly or more frequently as needed, as well as trade shows.

HS: What’s a typical day like for you on the road?
Being based in LA, the “everywhere is 20 minutes from everywhere” city….depending on traffic,  I can do an entire week of out and back type appointments. Efficiency is key working in LA.  The rest of the territory demands longer travel time and multiple overnights.

HS: How do you use sales order management at your field sales appointments? How does it make your job easier?
Let me tell you what my rep life was like BEFORE I used sales order management software!   Before it entered my world, I traveled around with a big clunky laptop, a giant catalogue binder and a notebook, cell phone, samples and every road rep’s best friend, a gigantic coffee.  I felt like I was taking over the store when I walked in.  In most cases, in little LA stores, I was!

The ordering process was fine, but far from efficient.  My old program allowed me to enter orders, but the very old fashioned way by typing in SKU numbers.  Yes, that is old fashioned, my friends!  Enter: Handshake.  What a relief.  All my items are on my phone or iPad.  Gone is the giant binder.  Gone is the clunky laptop.  I have extra space and hands for coffee for my customers.  I now breeze in and out of a store with ease.  No more entering SKU numbers.  I am able to produce a copy of the order on the spot.  My customers can view their order on my iPad and see images of the items they’ve ordered next to quantity and price rather than have to search back in the hard copy catalogue.

Using Handshake has helped lighten my travel load as well as increase my efficiency in appointments, which time crunched retailers appreciate.  It also makes me look pretty techy-cool, and a step ahead of the rest.  Hey, watch me take an order on my phone!

HS: People can buy from others – why do they buy from YOU? 
Janod is still quite new to the US market for specialty toys.  My customers have been looking for something new, fun, whimsical, and priced right.  For Janod and Kaloo, our quality is superb, our timing is perfect, our product is fantastic and I have super customers who believe in the power of PLAY.  We are all in this together;  we all want the best for our children.

HS: What’s the funniest/weirdest thing that has ever happened to you at a sales appointment?  
On a recent sales call, working with a customer I’ve known for about 6 years, the buyer seemed unusually scatty and unable to concentrate.   He had just opened a new location and was in the middle of closing down another, so I figured he was just distracted.  In the middle of writing our order, he realized he forgot to move his car from the loading zone.  He apologized and said he’d be right back.   An hour later…..he reappeared looking very groggy.  “Sorry,” he said, “I fell asleep.”

Thanks, Tracia, for sharing about your life as a road rep and how technology has changed the way you interact with your customers.

Check out our last road warriors post here, and be on the lookout for more stories from road reps soon!