For those of us sales reps who are veterans of the road, we have fond memories of quaint ways of getting phone messages. In the early 1980s my first answering machine was from Radio Shack and I had to call it from the road and make a unique high pitched sound with a hand held device right into the phone receiver. And that was just the beginning of the hoops I had to jump thru to hear all the messages while writing them down.
Returning phone calls? Easy, just pull off the side of the road at a pay phone with a hand full of change. Or if you were well prepared, you had some sort of calling card. Long distance calls? That was it’s own line item in our monthly budget! When I got my first cell phone hard wired into the car, I thought I thought I was actually in heaven. It was just for emergencies of course, at fifty cents per minute I did not even give out the number.
When it came to faxes, I did not get my first facsimile machine with that roll of thermal paper until the late ‘80s. Prior to that I would go over to a friend’s house that had one before me. Then the plain paper fax was within reason, and that was really living. This was all still before personal computers and e-mail was wide spread, but just around the corner.
Looking back at the development of technology and devices that were affordable to us, the rapid introduction of more and newer items seems like an explosion. In my own sales career that started in 1981, I have seen so many new tools for us to use in what seems like a short amount of time, that it truly amazes me when I stop and think about it.
For some reason still unknown to me, I easily adopted each and every piece of technology as it came down the pipe. I say unknown because I was not one of those guys back in school that was adept at changing my own oil, let alone do any other work on my car. I also knew not to attempt any home improvement project. My tool bench was really just for show. So when I got my first PC in 1990 something actually clicked, and I found a skill set that I enjoyed, and would make my job a lot easier and more efficient. I quickly became one of the “go to” guys to help my friends and family. So allow me to possibly help some of my fellow road warriors out there with one basic tool that I use daily – cloud based faxing.
Cloud based faxing has been around for many years, and I was an early adopter. Since I still hear of some fellow reps that get faxes back at their home machine, and sometimes have to call home to have it read to them, I think there are some that can still jump in now. I’ll mention the brand I use (www.MyFax.com) but know that I’m not here to endorse them, and there are others that are available as well.
This is how it works. The service I use is $10 per month, or $110 per year paid annually. You sign up and can immediately get a “fax number.” You can also “port” your current fax number if you have a separate phone line. So you can keep your current number. After signing up for that, they make your local number your new “cyber” fax number. You can then drop that line at home and save that expense.
You can supply them up to three e-mail addresses and when a fax comes in, they turn it into a PDF and e-mail it to all the addresses you supply. In my case (and it should be yours as well), I use a SmartPhone, and the e-mail comes immediately to my iPhone. There is a PDF attachment and there you go! The fax is right on your phone, or iPad, or laptop, or whatever you use to get your e-mail.
So what to do if you used to share that fax machine with your spouse, or anyone else? Easy, that is one of the three e-mails you provide, and they also get a PDF e-mailed to them. You can simply delete the e-mail if the fax was not intended for you.
Its very efficient to have your incoming faxes “ding” on your hip while you are driving, or standing in a store, or wherever. Let’s say you are in a store and you want a hard copy of your fax. You can forward the e-mail to your customer, and ask them to print it.
If you’re wondering about outgoing faxes and where the machine is for that, it’s done. With this faxing service you can send faxes easily. These days you are more likely to e-mail something, but if someone did want a fax, you can take any e-mail or attachment, and e-mail it to their fax machine. Sounds strange, but it’s done by addressing the e-mail box to their fax machine followed by myfax.com: for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. The service then takes whatever you e-mail, and sends it to the fax number you noted. They recognize your e-mail address as a valid subscriber to their service.
This is just one of the many tools I am using, and I intend to write about more in the future to help you become a fellow techie road warrior.
Rob Phillips has been a sales rep in the jewelry industry for over thirty years. He has represented companies such as SEIKO, Galatea, Parade Design, and Stanton Color. He also is a Mobile Technology Consultant. You can reach him with any comments at Rob@RobPhillips.com.