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> Best practices for travel season


by John O’Brien, CPMR

As the days shorten, the nights start to get cooler and leaves begin to change colors, it can only mean one thing — fall is right around the corner. In our industry though, fall is usually that time of resurgence. Everyone has worked through their summer vacations and with winter looming, it’s time to get as much done as we can.

For most of us, this signals the beginning of the travel season. Traditionally, our customers come out of the summer diligently working on new design starts or finalizing new designs that were begun earlier in the year. During the onset of COVID-19, due to supply chain issues, our customers’ focus was on getting parts, building product and driving revenues. Engineering efforts switched from design to sustainability as they needed to add sources to BOMs to try to get parts in to make revenue numbers. In many cases, designing a nextgeneration product fell to the back burner in support of these efforts.

Indications are that new design starts are now heading in an upward direction. We’re seeing more engineering requests, sample requests, RFQs and general inquiries which are usually pretty good drivers towards new designs. I have heard that many OEMs are not taking on as many new designs as they would previously, opting for one or two next-generation designs rather than trying to undertake too much too quickly.

So as this travel season is now upon us, let’s take a look at some best practices:

• Be considerate of people’s time. Manufacturers are taking time from their offices and homes to be out helping us drive new opportunities. Make sure you’re scheduling meals and windshield time appropriately.

• Be conscientious of the current market conditions. Many companies have or are limiting travel and entertainment budgets, so be fair with the hotels and restaurants you choose.

• Be flexible. Not all companies and employees are back to the office. Flex time within our customers is still a real thing. You may need to substitute or supplement in-person visits with virtual visits.

• Keep everyone involved. It’s important that the reps, manufacturers and distributors are all aligned during these design times. When appropriate, involve all parties in your visits.

• Be diligent. I’ve always felt it is very important for us reps to take copious notes when traveling with our principals. There will be action items from every visit. I firmly believe that it is our responsibility as the rep to follow these to completion.

• Learn, learn, learn. I’ve learned more in a couple customer visits with a principal than I ever did watching PowerPoint trainings. The experience is invaluable.

To all my friends out there: happy hunting this season. I hope you land “the big one.”

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