My clients often ask me what systems I use to manage my day and my to-do list. What are the best business productivity tools for a road warrior salesperson? I’ve written about my calendar, but I’m also asked often about my tools (what laptop, phone service, wifi hotspot, apps I use, etc.), so I thought it was time to put together a list I could share with my clients and readers.
So here it is – the best business productivity tools that I (with the help of my super techie, analytical husband, Shane) have found to date.
I like to get my money’s worth out of things, so I am not into always having the latest and greatest gadget if what I have still gets the job done. If the exact model I use isn’t sold anymore, I’ve listed the new version that is the closest to mine.
Check back often; I’ll keep adding to this list and updating as needed.
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My Home & Mobile Office
My husband and I live in Nashville, but we spend a significant amount of time on the road. I do about half of my work from my home office – the rest of the time I’m working from a remote office – which could be a client’s office, a hotel room, an Airbnb, or our car (I work while my husband drives). Here are some of my favorite tools for the office:
Between coaching and prospecting, I can be on the phone for 8 hours a day (or more). These earbuds sound great and are super comfortable. This is my third pair (all my fault for replacement), and I wouldn’t use anything else.
Note: This is NOT a wireless headset. I’m not a fan of wireless/Bluetooth headsets. Wired headsets sound more professional, and you don’t have to worry about running out of battery.
The AIR is great, too – but I opted for more power for running multiple monitors (see below) and having lots of programs open at the same time.
My last Macbook worked wonderfully for almost four years; I upgraded to this model in 2015. The 13-inch model is significantly less expensive than the 15, and I think it’s a lot more portable (bigger than a 13 is tough to use on a plane or in the passenger seat of a car).
P.S. I do know that Macs can be more expensive than Windows laptops, but I really do think they’re worth the extra money. I used my last Macbook Pro for over four years and was still able to sell it for $230 on Gazelle.
I am a huge fan of using multiple monitors! There have been countless studies that show how this increases productivity. Whenever I’m in my office, I always use two monitors so I can always have my calendar open (I live by my calendar) on one monitor, and use the other for the task I am working on (taking notes, my CRM, etc.).
You can spend thousands on huge high-resolution monitors (like the Apple ones), but these are inexpensive and plenty big enough for me. And you don’t need a crazy high resolution for a CRM or checking email.
Note: If your computer doesn’t have two video outputs, you may need an adapter so your 2nd monitor can plug into your USB port. Here’s the one I used with my old computer.
I ditched the mouse years ago. I recommend switching to the trackpad and then take the time to learn Apple’s gestures, and your productivity will increase. As a side benefit, you’ll feel more comfortable traveling with your laptop, since its built-in trackpad will mirror what you are using at your desk.
Don’t use a Mac? My husband uses Windows, and he uses this trackpad – he says it’s just as good as Apple’s.
I don’t have an office line; I need to be able to work from anywhere, so I always use my cell phone with my wired headset (see above). I’ve used Android phones in the past, but we’re an Apple household (Macbooks, iPads, Apple TV) so it’s nice to have everything working together.
Also, I use Sprint. Different carriers may have better service where you live – but I think Sprint still has the best/ cheapest unlimited plans on the market (I use 6,000 – 8,000 minutes per month).
I use my iPad for quick meetings (lunch, coffee, etc.) when I need to take notes and access the internet, but don’t want to bring my laptop along. And when I’m traveling I use Duet Display, a cool program that lets me plug my iPad into my computer and use it as a 2nd monitor!
When traveling from state to state, I often set up my mobile office in my vehicle and do coaching and client calls while my husband drives. A good cell phone booster will add a few bars to your signal and cut down on dropped calls. I recommend upgrading to this antenna, too.
I need quick internet access no matter where I go. I’ve tried a few different ones (Ting is another good option for hotspots), but I’m loving my Karma Go. It’s very small, very fast, and their plan is crazy simple: you buy blocks of data that never expire, and then you only pay for what you use. So if you have a month when you don’t travel or need your hotspot, then you won’t have any costs that month.
They’ve also created an ingenious way to let friends (or even strangers!) securely connect to your hotspot while you’re out and about – it doesn’t use up any of your data plan, and you get additional free data for spreading the love (hence the Karma name). Use my link to get a $10 credit.
My Website & Social Media Tools
Having a professional online presence is vital. My husband built this blog/website with WordPress. I write the blog posts, then he edits them and makes them pretty before posting them. Everything you see on the social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is 100% from me. Here are some of the tools we use to manage the website/blog, my email list, and my social media accounts:
Get your own professional logo, business cards & stationary. Several designers work on your logo; just pick the design you like best, and they will make revisions until you are satisfied (my readers get 10% off when you signup here and use the coupon code “happy days”).
SiteGround is a great option for hosting your website or blog, especially if you’re going to create a WordPress site like mine. I’ve used other sites, and SiteGround just seems to be the most stable and professional (and I Shane loves their customer support)! I also feel like they are also better equipped grow with you as your business grows.
SiteGround has plans for under $4 per month if you’re just getting started (which goes up to $9.95/MO after the first year), and they make it easy to scale up as you get more traffic. I use the GoGeek plan (currently at $11.95/MO the first year, $29.95/MO after that) mostly because of the geeky advanced features.
Check them out with this link to see their current prices and let them know I sent you.
You need to use good quality images if you want your online posts to look professional and get attention. I don’t use the free photos available online because I see the same pictures used on blogs all the time and to me – it makes you look less professional. I buy most of mine from Fotolia.
I use Buffer to manage all of my Linked In, Facebook and Twitter posts. You can add your posts whenever you think of them, and Buffer spreads them out and posts them according to a schedule you set up. I have the $10 a month plan so I can schedule my posts once a month and not just ten at a time with the free version.
There are a lot of great tools out there for sending emails and newsletters, and there are pros and cons to each. Constant Contact has a great editor and lots of templates to get yours started (my readers get a $30 credit when you signup here). I also use their EventSpot service for managing meetings and training events where I need to sell tickets.
Software & Apps
Here’s some of the software, apps, and services we use to keep life and business running smoothly. This is probably the section that will change the most, so check back often!
I use Dropbox when I need to quickly and easily share large files with a client or another coach on my team. Dropbox has become such an industry standard for sharing and storing files in the cloud that several other apps (like OnePassword and YNAB below) integrate with it automatically.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a zillionaire or just getting started, I believe everyone needs to operate their personal (and business!) finances on a monthly budget. Creating and sticking to a monthly budget is of particular importance for salespeople (whose income can vary considerably from month to month). YNAB even works for small businesses – no need for QuickBooks. We have a personal budget and a separate budget setup for our business. This allows me and Shane to run our business with the same debt-free, zero-based budget philosophy that we use for our personal finances.
YNAB is the easiest way to create a new budget every month, and then easily track your spending and income with your cell phone, so you can always see how you’re doing (and make better spending decisions on the fly).
YNAB will let you try the whole system for free for 34 days (so you can run through a whole month+) – and if you use my referral link, you’ll get an additional month for free if you decide to sign up.
With the constant security breaches in the news these days, it’s critical that every website you use has a different password. And the most secure passwords are really long ones – but how can anyone remember all that stuff? You need a password manager!
I was reluctant to use a password manager (too techie!), but my husband did a bunch of research and finally convinced me that we needed to start using 1Password. I’m so glad we did! It automatically creates unique, secure passwords for all my sites and it integrates with my internet browser, iPhone, and iPad, so I never have to remember (or type in) a password again!
Newsify is an RSS Reader app for iPhone and iPad. In simple English? Use this app to follow your favorite blogs and websites, so all your favorite content is in one app. It’s like creating your own personal newspaper with all of the stuff from the web that YOU want to read, organized however YOU want to read it. Don’t forget to sign up for my updates here!
Make sure your computer gets backed up (to the cloud) every night, so you don’t lose data in the case of a fire or hardware failure. This is especially crucial if you are using a laptop that could get lost or stolen. Since I use SugarSync to keep my numerous computers in sync, I just make sure my home computer is backed up every night.
Note: I use a different service that does not seem to be taking any new clients anymore – so I am recommending Carbonite, which gets rave reviews and is an industry standard.