How can you expect coworkers to respect you and work with you if you cannot communicate effectively? This interview contains Penny Webster’s tips she accumulated throughout her professional career, sales director at Pari. Readers will learn little small tips that will make a world of a difference. Webster also gives a simple one minute trick to help solve a problem many young professionals face in the work place. Lastly, readers will learn what not to do when communicating in the work place.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY
Penny Webster: “My professional career lacks many different jobs like some people might have. I have only had two professional different jobs in my career. I was able to start my own pharmacy with a loan that I got from a bank in 1979. Running my own business helped me grow a tremendous amount in both my professional career and in my personal life. I learned what during my work here, and perfected time management. As you could imagine being the owner of an independent pharmacy I did almost everything for my pharmacy. My main roles were; doing all of the accounting functions, processing pay checks, billing all of the different insurance companies for the clients, ordering the medication that would be needed and making sure we were never low or out, and finally I was always talking to drug representatives trying to get a better price to bring my cost down or reaching out to different companies trying to find that better price. The mid-nineties I was getting very run down and losing my motivation to grow the business. Any business owner can tell you that if you lose your passion or become content that your business shrinks and does not continue to make the same amount of money. I had built a really amazing customer base whom I loved very much, but when I was offered a different job for more than I was making with about half of the responsibilities I knew it was time to step away. I sold that little pharmacy in 1999 and started my current job one week later. That next week I started at Pari Medical Supplies as the director of sales. All of my responsibilities sound very overwhelming, but with time management it is very manageable. I, along with my team, design the overall sales strategies and programs that achieve the sales and gross margin plan consistent with Pari’s mission statement and views, communicate that same vision to all members of the sale team and relay the goals, manage all sales teams through mentoring, training, plus sharing ideas, create accurate sales forecasts based on how the market is preforming, create appropriate expense budgets consistent with SG&A goals, analyze sales reports on a macro and micro level, present sales plans and provide updates to executive management, I am key contact for some accounts, attend trade meetings, lead sales personnel meetings, conduct a SWOT analysis of both the market and Pari, act as an ambassador for both the brand and company, form a strong relationship will all departments to make me more effective at my job, full fill leadership expectations by leading the way and encouraging those lower, develop launch strategies, partake in programs to improve personal and business skills, assess personnel in the field, manage training for field personnel in both drug and device.”
WHAT WRITING ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATORS
Penny Webster: “My best advice that I could give someone is to organize your thoughts. I always make a very brief outline of what I want to touch on that way I do not leave any information out in my email and have to send another one clogging everyone’s email. Another tip is do not church it up, unnecessary words drive me crazy just say what you want to and get it over, there is no need to use “SAT” words, remain professional though. My last but most important thought would be to think about who your audience is and craft your email to them.”
What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
Penny Webster: “Unorganized thought process drives me crazy. Imagine everything you read had like a p.s. at the end or just threw something in at the end that went with something at the beginning. I believe that it is just better to take one minute and write a very short outline on a post it notes.”
What types of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
Penny Webster: “I read P & L (Profit and Loss), Sales reports by product and customer, forecast and cost reports, expense reports, daily sales reports. I write the following reports for my company; commission reports, field reports, sales data reports, employee reviews, reports for management recommendations.”
What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?
Penny Webster: “Layout your objective within the report. Make sure to keep in mind what the reader needs to know and what they need to know. Then make note of what you are trying to convey, will it be interpreted correctly? Keeping these things in mind helps me to craft each of these reports with ease and effectiveness.”
What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
Penny Webster: “Lead with a non-threatening introduction. Your introduction should be something that makes you genuine to the audience, so they are open to listing and capture their attention.”
Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication before your professional career?
Penny Webster: “I wish I knew to organize my thoughts. Yes, I was at one point in time that person that had to send multiple emails to get one point across. Walk away from the email or save it in drafts then look at it again make revisions.”
After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
Penny Webster: “I believe Building effective relationships should take the place of customer service #4 – with the ability to build relationships comes excellence in customer service. If you are unable to build an effective how can you give customer service, relationships with co works, direct reports, management. People respond to people, they do business with people the respect, like, trust. This is also the same with managing people results come out of this. That is the only one I would change.”
What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
Penny Webster: “A team is made up of more than one person, everyone is entitled to their thoughts/opinion and you should be respectful of this, you don’t have to always be right, but you do have to be honest. There is always something to learn from other members of the team.”
Key Take Away
Penny Webster was more than generous with her knowledge and time. The first tip she gave that I found very useful was to organize your thoughts. Organize your thoughts by making an outline with the points you want to touch on, so you do not leave them out. The second tip she gave us was to step away before hitting send then come back reread the message to make sure it is perfect. Lastly, Webster told us to keep in mind who the audience is to help you convey tone, and to open with something that humanizes you.
The chart below provides us with a percentage of baseline skills vs. technical skills in various career areas. This chart could be great to consult with and decide further areas of interest.
Penny Webster was an independent pharmacy owner from 1979 to 1999. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska in 1995. She is a certified BOC Orthodontist that led to the start of her professional career with PARI in 1999 where she is still working as the director of sales. Mrs. Webster has been involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Organization, durable medical equipment associations, and specialty pharmacies.
Eric Peters is a student at the University of Southern Indiana studying accounting. He plans on becoming a CPA after graduating in the Spring of 2021. He also plans on one day opening his own accounting firm.