Given the fast pace of business, a salesperson needs every edge possible when it comes to personal productivity. Take a genuine gadget guy like Steve Ettridge, founder of Temps & Co., a placement agency in Alexandria, Va. His Porsche Carrera is equipped with a plug-in port for faxes and e-mail--as a mobile office for shuttling between headquarters and 15 branches. He steers clear of laptops because they're too short on battery life. Instead, he packs a U.S. Robotics PalmPilot, a Motorola StarTAC cellular phone, and a Motorola text pager. This high-tech trinity helps Ettridge field five dozen phone calls a day, even while out of the office.
Like so many techies, Ettridge is constantly upgrading his mobile productivity tools. How does he keep up with new models, upgrades, and features for all this gear? He doesn't. Instead, his systems manager serves as a "royal taster," testing new gadgets. "He gets to buy any productivity tool he wants, and he gives me a briefing on whether it's worth playing with or not," says Ettridge. Whatever doesn't pass muster with his systems manager--20% to 30% of the purchases--can generally be returned for full refunds within 30 days.
Companies lacking an obvious geek to serve as tech-taster need not despair, says Ettridge. If you know any college students, one of them would surely love the job.