Learning from the Pandemic: Productive Collaboration

The Resource Group | Midwest has long been working with collaborative tools to maximize the productivity of our team in our environment. However, much of these tools meant nothing when distanced not just by a desk but by the distances between our homes.  Thrust into a reset and determined to focus our collaborative efforts, The Resource Group | Midwest reassessed not only our existing practices but our opportunities. Quickly, we discovered that we could do activities that would not only make the distance less of a barrier, but also improve our work once we came back together. 

Every morning, without the same constrictions of availability, The Resource Group | Midwest began a practice of a morning meeting. Refining the skill constantly, these meetings started to shape three themes:

  • Reinforce goals and objectives
  • Specify immediate priorities
  • Accelerate progress sharing exercises

The practices showed that collaboration is more than just working together; it can ensure that collaboration is at its best. Instead of working together to complete, we worked together to improve work more productively.

Every day, The Resource Group | Midwest reassesses itself and its opportunities to create the synergy collaboration presents. The improvements to our daily practices that these meetings provided have been substantial. The system is not stopping as we return to regular activities. The pandemic changed how we work, not that we work together. Make crisis an opportunity.

Productivity in the Workplace

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

In our fast-paced and highly collaborative business culture, many of our goals and projects are dependent on more than one person working together. Each team member is personally accountable for their individual commitments and contributions to ensure goals are being met and projects are being delivered on time, completed, and within the original vision. It is easy to become distracted by the responsibilities of our team members and lose track of our own individual responsibilities.

Furthermore, we are bombarded every day with tasks that demand immediate attention. Between emails, voicemails, post-it notes on our monitors, or people asking us to do “just a quick favor,” there is always a new task jumping to the top of the priority list, and it is easy to become overwhelmed from the minute we step into the office. As a result, we become frustrated, and we can lose sight of our goals.

But staying focused on our projects and goals in a productive manner is doable.

Sometimes, managing your time successfully is as simple as prioritization of tasks. The key to productivity improvement is to condense your tasks into one list, instead of having reminders everywhere. Having one goal-focused task list will help free your mind of distracting amounts of information. It will also help you keep all your deadlines in order, so that you can keep yourself and your team accountable for meeting all your goals on time.

You can also experiment with productivity improvement methods. These three have been time-tested and proven to work:

80/20 Rule: also referred to as the Pareto Principle, this method involves getting 20% of the most important tasks done, and that will take care of 80% of your productivity worries for the day.

Ivy Lee Method: Before your work day is over, spend as little as five minutes preparing a list of tasks for the following day. When you come in to work the next day, take care of the tasks one by one, moving on from one task only after the previous one is completed. This prevents you from multitasking, as doing too many tasks at once results in an inefficient work day and a loss of productivity.

CRM System: A strong CRM system develops, retains, and stores your customer relationship information and corresponds accurately to the needs of each client. This is a way to keep all your information in one place for easy access and better organization.

However, all the productivity improvement methods in the world are worthless if you don’t stay disciplined in following the process. But if you stay accountable to yourself and your team, you will eventually see lasting results. When you feel productive, it will lead to increased commitment, efficiency, and engagement with your job and coworkers.

Resource Spotlight: Incomar Services

“Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them.’” – Doug Kessler, Creative Director at Velocity Partners

When you land on a product page, does it communicate all the features, benefits, and associated solutions that the product offers? Is what you see strong enough to persuade you to buy the product? Conversion to basket is largely dependent on the content that is loaded onto a page, and this content is a part of the focus of our affiliate company, Incomar Services.

Incomar is a creative services company who operates on a philosophy of “strategy, creation, and integration.” They specialize in creating best in class content that tells a visual story, working to produce high-quality images, high impact HD videos, optimized copy, and dynamic social media strategies that drive sales. By using an integrated content marketing strategy that works toward having all content speak with the same persuasive voice on a customer’s website, Incomar can give customers the multipurpose assets they need to help persuade the end user to convert to basket from whatever page they land on.

Through consistent strategy in creation that keeps specific integration challenges in mind, Incomar can set the correct expectations for customers and ensure that those expectations are met. As a marketing group who is focused on strategy, creation, and integration, Incomar’s creative services stand out.

Service Spotlight: Administrative Services Team

 “Collaboration is a key part of the success of any organization, executed through a clearly defined vision and mission and based on transparency and constant communication” – Dinesh Paliwal, CEO of Harman International Industries

When we think of Administrative Services, the initial thought is often of the people answering phones and making copies. Here at Midwest Resource Group, our Administrative Services team goes above and beyond simple customer service, focusing on a collaborative strategy to advance the sales process. This helps reduce errors, create consistent messaging, and aids in accountability. This team of highly trained, well educated professionals fulfills the specific needs of individual resellers based on the goals we set together with the manufacturer and reseller.

Collaboration is essential to success. The Administrative Services team functions as a force multiplier for sales activity. The collaboration between the Administrative Services team and the field sales team ensures that all necessary components of a project are completed, from preparation, to the initial call, to the follow up activities that come later.

Our Administrative Services team serves as a support system for the field sales team. They perform tasks that range from portal management, to product submissions, to content audits, to delivery and issue resolution. They prepare presentations, organize and collate support materials, and deliver those materials to people for meetings and presentations. This allows the territory managers to focus on goal execution with the support of their team.

The Administrative Services team has been developed and invested in over the years to allow Midwest Resource Group to be more efficient and effective. This team of professionals enables the field sales team to pursue their objectives and operate to a greater degree of accountability and success.

Changing the Landscape

Back when I was beginning my sales career, a senior representative gave me one piece of advice:

“If you want to be successful in sales, get up one hour earlier and stay up one hour later. Use that time to make one extra call each day. It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year you’ve made 250 additional calls. Those additional calls will make you successful.”

This approach to sales worked well because of how business was done back in those days. Success was based on how much time you spent on building relationships and selling. Sales and marketing agencies presented merchandising resellers everything they had about manufacturers’ products, and every account received the same materials, more or less.

But the current landscape is far more challenging for sales and marketing professionals. Resellers have unique platforms, user interfaces, and affiliations, and the ability to differentiate between each resellers’ capabilities and relationships is what sets sellers apart. The number of communications channels we use daily has grown exponentially, with customers receiving hundreds and thousands of communications each week. Managing and responding to these communications can be time consuming and overwhelming.

Although building relationships is still a critically important component of sales, there are many more tasks that need to be performed or overseen. Digital marketing has become essential to the process, because consumers want to understand not only what they are buying and how it works, but also how it can benefit their specific needs.

At Midwest Resource Group, we ensure that the communications and digital marketing needs are being met, while still ensuring that we can give attention to the core sales and relationship building needed for successful transactions. We work as a team with administrative and creative experts, which gives the managing partners and territory managers more time to devote to building relationships and selling. Times have changed, but the advice that my first sales mentor gave me still holds some truth. However, to make those extra calls, we need to be able to rely on our administrative and creative marketing teams to make sure that the customers’ other needs are being met.