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Technology is something that can inspire creativity as easily as it can provoke fear. Even as we acknowledge that it has made some aspects of life easier, it is also true that technology can drive a wedge in human interactions. For example, is it easier to get the attention of your children by calling their name or by sending them a picture on snapchat?
Whether it’s the permeation of social media, the introduction of augmented reality in games like Pokemon Go, or the simple fact that 68% of Americans walk around with a smart phone, technology – and the way it’s integrated into the client experience – will continue be a key driver of customer loyalty. Therefore, it’s up to distributors in the promotional products industry to find ways to leverage technology to not only create, but enhance a collaborative selling environment.
Here are 3 ways to easily utilize technology to build that collaborative bridge with your clients:
1. Interactive Web Design – In the digital age, the first place prospective clients will judge whether you are worthy of their business is your website. Having an interactive website – one where visitors are able to navigate easily while allowing user interactions that are simple and straightforward – is critical to telling your story, your way. It’s simply not enough to have a static product catalog and expect people to engage on a meaningful level. You have to allow visitors to interact with the information and services you offer. Things like photos, videos, blogs (with a comment section), and clickable case histories will go a long way to digitally creating a sense of collaboration.

2. Communication
Tools – It’s time the folks from Generation X (admission: I am part of Gen X) to stop expecting millennials to ignore decades of technology by expecting them to communicate the way we did 20 years ago. While it may feel unprofessional to communicate through text messages, Google forms, Skype, or Instant Messaging, the fact is that the way clients communicate and collaborate have evolved. Just as Baby Boomers had to adjust to the preference of Gen Xers communicating through email, Gen Xers need to shift to using more real-time communication if they truly wish to collaborate.

3. Seamless Virtuals
– In the world of promotional products, clients want the ability to see a virtual sample of what they are ordering, and they want it now. By using technology like Technologo – something that is available on all DistributorCentral websites – you allow your clients the ability to upload their artwork and create their own virtuals seamlessly. This greatly reduces the amount of friction because the technology creates the virtuals without any lapse in time which increases the likelihood of continued collaboration.
Here’s the best part: you don’t have to understand how to write code to create a technology laden environment that is collaborate. The tools already exist, are user-friendly, and easily accessible. Don’t let the fear of technology, learning something new, or discomfort stop you from building a collaborative bridge that will allow you to deliver value to your clients.

Bill Petrie

About brandivate
Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. In 2014, he launched brandivate – the first executive outsourcing company solely focused on helping small and medium sized promotional products enterprises responsibly grow their business.
A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, Vice President for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.