As good as video and conference calls are, there are lots of times you’ll find yourself out on the road. Whether you’re a sales rep or a marketing manager there are lots of apps to help lighten the load, as our trade marketing director Rob Carter discovers.
When I started repping I had an A-Z Street Atlas of my patch, a leatherbound sales presenter and a twinlock folder. I also had a beaten-up, hand-painted VW Polo, but that’s another story. Nowadays I’d be lost, physically and metaphorically, without my smartphone and the dozen or so apps I rely on almost every single day.
1. Rather than use separate work and private phones, I prefer to run one Android phone. The only real downside is that you need to take care if you have access to corporate data, but using Android means I can have a separate homescreen dedicated to work-related apps. For Apple you could assign a ‘work’ folder to keep your screen tidy.
2. I also run a browser specifically for work (Chrome for home, Firefox for everything else). This means all my passwords carry over easily from my desktop and the chances of me accidentally uploading a snap of weekend revelry to the corporate Twitter account are greatly minimised.
3. Not all Android devices have split-screen, but where they do, it’s a really useful tool particularly for social media posts and web work. There’s a simple article here showing you how to turn on split-screen for Android.
Life on the road
I prefer not to have a separate sat nav unit (something else to charge and lose!), so I run Google Maps (great at finding business addresses) and Sygic which has great lane guidance that really comes into its own driving abroad. As an aside, if your own business doesn’t show up correctly on Google, take a look at this.
Once you do get to your destination parking apps such as RingGo and Parkmobile really come into their own, saving you time and making sure you don’t need a pocket full of change. Both of these also allow you to email yourself a receipt.
Tube Map, Trainline and Uber mean I’m never really stuck getting from A to B and onto C again. If you’re traversing one of the major city areas there’s a good chance you can hire a bike for a short period of time. Look out for the schemes in the cities you go to most often such as Santander, nextbike and Mobike.
I have a stack of favourites on my SD card, but most of the time I use one of the streaming services that allows you to play offline (thereby saving my data plan). I use Napster (yes, it’s still going) for new hits and Amazon Music for older stuff.
Great for a caffeine top-up and great for the on-the-fly office. Starbucks and Costa both have apps, so order in advance (Starbucks only) and collect points as you go.
Expedia links to my Nectar card and keeps all my nights away in one place. Also consider Deliveroo, because sometimes you just don’t want to stop working (or you’re in an unfamiliar city and don’t feel like exploring).
You probably already have a go-to news app on your phone but it’s always worth looking at news from the local areas you’re visiting – it’s the best way to find out about any local traffic problems and things to do in the evening, plus they can provide easy background and ice breakers to talk to your customers about. There are lots out there but here are some of ours:
Belfast Live | Birmingham Live | Bristol Post | Cambridge News | Coventry Telegraph | Daily Record | Derby Telegraph | Dublin Live | Football London | Get Surrey | Get West London | Glasgow Live | Huddersfield Examiner | Hull Daily Mail | Irish Mirror | Leicester Mercury | Liverpool Echo | Manchester Evening News | The Mirror | Mirror Football | Newcastle Chronicle | Nottingham Post | Plymouth Herald | Stoke Sentinel | Teesside Gazette | Wales Daily Post | Wales Online
Life on the road means expenses. There’s lots of choice and ideally you want one that works with your corporate expense system to keep things simple. I’m currently playing around with Expensify and MyCarTracks although I confess I haven’t found my perfect app yet.
WhatsApp is great for one-to-one and one-to-many group messages. Less formal than an email, not linked to your personal social media and generally more likely to get a fast response. Use this to check in with your colleagues, find out if anyone is nearby, or even share a joke. Don’t get cut off whilst you’re out of the office.
The above apps deal with making life on the road as simple as possible. Now here’s some apps to help keep you working at full capacity whether you’re in a service station or at the airport.
Mobile Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint or Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. I try and avoid any heavyweight work on mobile due to the keyboard size but there will be plenty of times you need to finish working on something or just open attachments you’ve been sent.
Get to your customer information, update your progress, record your sales – some sort of mobile CRM like Saleforce should be a given. You’ll likely need internal IT to help here. Can’t get it installed? Talk to your CRM manager about uploading basic client info into a Google Map so you can always find your customers whilst you’re out. You should also look at LinkedIn Sales Navigator or standard LinkedIn; there’s really no excuse for turning up ‘cold’ to a client meet.
Evernote is great for recording longer notes, minutes of meetings etc. I like sticky notes stuck on my homescreen to remind me to do simple stuff (buy milk, send client image files, whatever!). Long press on the mic symbol on the keyboard and you also have a pretty good voice transcribing tool.
You may well need to access your corporate social media accounts. Rather than run the native apps (and risk my bored children uploading selfies by accident!) I tend to use a third-party interface such as Hootsuite. Schedule, view and post from within the app and access some useful social listening tools for Twitter (geo locate conversations, brand sentiment etc). If you have lots of brand Facebook pages, get their Pages Manager and stay on top of messages and analytics without your laptop.
I hope you find some of these useful, now grab a coffee, find some free Wi-Fi and make the most of your life on the road!