How to handle outbound calls

It was only a few months ago I mentioned one of my least favourite tasks was outbound sales/cold calling.  In typical fashion, over the last few weeks I’ve been asked to do some outbound sales calls for a few new clients.

Never one to turn someone away, I decided to take on the work, and as always, throw myself in to it.

I moaned a bit under my breath, but no one else had to hear that.  Well, apart from Lu, but she’s used to my little rants by now.

Generally speaking if I do anything like this I like to be completely prepared.  In an ideal world there would be time to develop a bit of a script, maybe do some tests of it, tweak it and make sure it’s as good as it can be.

However, with these recent jobs, they’ve all had a certain amount of urgency to them.  So my back’s been a bit against the wall.  No time to really prep, just jump straight in.

Which always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

But that’s life.

With that in mind I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of weeks in the hopes that if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might feel a little more able to pick up that phone and make a start.

# 1 – Be professional, and happy

I’ve received many a cold call myself, and I’m always struck by how miserable everyone sounds when you answer the phone to them.  Don’t get me wrong, I entirely get it.  I might be the 50th person they’ve called that morning, and everyone else has told them to bog off, they’re despondent, miserable and wondering where they went wrong in life.

But that’s not my fault.

Which is why it is essential that you put a smile on as soon as you pick up that phone and act like every call is the first one you’ve made all day.  Be professional at all times, and where possible use the person who’s answering the call’s name.

# 2 – Introduce yourself

Take the time to introduce yourself and your company. True, they might not take it in there and then, and will probably ask you to repeat it, but it’s a good habit to get in to.  Equally, it’s a nice way for you to ground yourself in to the conversation.

“Hi, I’m Stef and I’m calling from Time Saving Heroes. We’re a local company who specialises in helping microbusinesses increase their productivity and income.”

I’ve found that this approach works better than clearly identifying what you do, provide or sell.  This arouses a bit more interest than simply saying “I’m a Virtual Assistant and I wanted to discuss how I could help you.”

# 3 – State your purpose

In an ideal world you’ll have a specific reason for wanting to call these businesses, so explain it. Having read a few blogs about this sort of thing it’s clear that framing this purpose in the form of a question is likely to illicit better results.

“If I can show you how to get more done, without employing staff or significantly increasing your outgoings, would you be interested in hearing more?”

# 4 – Schedule a meeting

If they’re interested in finding out more then set up a meeting, if it’s appropriate to do so.  If they’re out of the area, then a conference call might be the better way to approach this.

Offer two times to give a choice, and do not put the ball back in their court by saying “when shall we meet?”.

# 5 – Follow up

Make sure you get all the necessary contact information from your prospect. Ask if they have an email address (so you can send a meeting invite/confirmation), and then send the information as promised.

 

No matter what the outcome of the call, make sure you remain bright, breezy and professional and you thank them for their time and help.

Men have a better work-life balance

According to a study by the Office for National Statistics men have got a better handle on their work-life balance than women do.

Looking just at the north west of England, it would appear that men spend seven hours more, each week, on leisure time than women do. As an average across the UK, men relax for six hours and nine minutes per day, while women are stuck with five hours and 29 minutes.

The study, which uses data from 2015, seems to suggest that men had more “free” time, because they engaged in less unpaid work than women.  For example, women were more likely to be using their non-working time dealing with children, cooking, cleaning or shopping.

Whilst this is undoubtedly true to a certain extent, I know many of my female friends who would loudly agree with that explanation, there is also another one.

Now, I’m going to stick my head above the parapet here, and may well get a ton of backlash, but so be it.  Men are far more selfish with their time than women are.

That’s certainly been my experience, and I’m not necessarily saying that they are wrong (or right, for that matter).  Men are far better at jealously guarding their hobby time, fitness time, TV time or whatever it is – whilst women, who do tend to fall in to more nurturing roles, will put everyone else’s needs first.  Facilitating other people’s enjoyment, instead of focussing on their own leisure.

Equally, and I can only speak from my own experience, men are better at asking for help, and delegating when it comes to their own businesses.  The vast majority of my clients are male.  Not because men are incapable of doing the tasks that I handle for them, but because they realise their time could be better spent elsewhere.

I’ve had conversations with numerous female business owners who admit they need help, but are too scared to let go.  They’re so used to doing it all on their own, that they can’t imagine another way.  Two years later, they’re no further on, but far more stressed out.

As women, we really need to give ourselves a break, and be mindful of the fact that Superwoman is just a myth. You’re fine as you are – you can do anything, but not everything.

As a wife of one and Mum of five, I’m still struggling to come to terms with that concept.

Freaky Halloween Offer!

Here at Time Saving Heroes we love Halloween.  In fact, it’s our second favourite day of the year (after Christmas, of course).  The crisp evenings, the spookiness, the ghouls lurking round every corner (and that’s just Lu’s kids), so much fun!

 

To celebrate we’re offering a scary reduction in our content writing service.

 

If you sign up by 31st October 2017 you can receive FOUR blogs for the price of two.  That’s a saving of £50!

 

No contracts, you don’t have to sign up to receiving more blogs – you can take your four and run (though, of course, we’d love to think you’d stick around).

 

All you have to do is call 0161 883 2024, email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or message us via our Facebook page here.

 

Then we’ll do the rest.

 

Blogs will be produced for use in November/December 2017.

Is Facebook going to be the new LinkedIn?

In case you’ve not heard, Facebook is reportedly testing out a brand new Resume/CV feature, suggesting that the social networking platform could soon be in direct competition with LinkedIn.

As things stand, you can already add your professional experience with your friends in the “Work and Education section”. However, the update which is currently being rolled out to select members, will see a revamped version of this.

Screenshots of the update suggest you will be able to include detailed summaries of your previous roles, as well as what you’re currently doing – and potentially what you’re looking for.

The good news is that this section will be separate from your personal profile, meaning only recruiters will be able to see it.  Equally, it means recruiters won’t have to sift through photos of your nights out, children or culinary masterpieces to ascertain if you’re right for the job.

We can’t help but wonder if it’s just another attempt to squeeze revenue from existing members – will you have to pay to access this function, and will recruiters have to have a separate membership to be able to access your CV’s?

There is no doubt that social recruiting is becoming a big thing, with more and more savvy recruiters thinking outside the box and talking to potential candidates away from traditional online forums.  However, the job is already hard enough without adding more potential pools to look through.

Personally, we’re more concerned that rather than differentiating, all platforms are becoming a little too same-old.  LinkedIn has already added SnapChat-style geofilters for events and conferences, and now Facebook is potentially breaking down further barriers.

As users, are we looking for a one-size fits all platform that can perform every function, or is it better to have specific channels to meet our specific needs?

 

Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what your thoughts are.

 

Three Ways to Make More Time

Ruth and I have just been to the Big Bolton Conversation, hosted by the fantastic team at theBestofBolton. I have to say, I was blown away by how well run the entire event was, and what an amazing mix of people were in the room.

As a featured supplier, Time Saving Heroes had the opportunity to have a stand in their “expo” section, which was great – as all exhibitors were B2B, and limited to one per industry.  People actually took the time to talk, and we made some fantastic connections we’ll need to touch base with later this week.

Going through the services we offer, and why we offer them, the dilemma of “too much to do, not enough time” kept coming up.  Obviously, it’s something we hear day in, day out with our existing clients, but it seemed particularly heightened today.

Many people want a quick fix, jokingly asking if we can turn their 24 hour days in to 33 hour ones instead.  Of course we can’t, but the truth is this question says a lot about our approach to managing our time.  Instead of wishing we had more, we need to be better at using what we’ve got.

Here at Time Saving Heroes that’s what we specialise in.  Working with what you’ve already got, and making it better.  You don’t need more time, you need to be more productive with the time you have.

On the drive from Bolton back to the office I got thinking about my top tips to help people manage this, and here they are:

 

#1 – Buy it

I’m always telling my clients they can do anything, but they can’t do everything.  The simple truth is if you take everything on there’s nowhere for you to go.  There reality is there are only so many hours in a day, and no matter how long you work, you can’t do it all.

The good news though is that you can buy time.  If you look at the tasks you currently spend time on, but don’t have to be dealt with by you, find a way to outsource these.  If you spend a lot of time trying to update your website, would it make more sense to pay a web developer to do it?  What about a bookkeeper to handle your accounts?  A Virtual Assistant might have all the necessary skills you need.

Whatever it is you need doing, there is someone out there who has the right skill set to be able to help you.

 

# 2 – Find it

It might seem like a daunting task, but actually taking the time to track how you spend your days is well worth it.  Logging everything you spend your time on, from personal tasks to replying to emails, will highlight all your many obligations throughout the day.

You can then sit and look through the things that are taking up your time that you don’t think are personally worth it.  Rather than adding more things to your list, you can see this as a golden opportunity to cut out the things that aren’t working or don’t really working.  This way, you can free up some of your time to focus on other things.

 

# 3 – Create it

OK, you can’t actually create time, but you can create the illusion of more.  For example, do you find yourself writing the same sort of emails day in, day out? Do you get similar questions from customers or clients?  If so, producing a standard response that you can send out with the click of a mouse is a great way to save yourself heaps of time every single day.

Rather than spending lots of time shuffling bits of paper around, why don’t you use something like Evernote to keep everything simple and organised in one place?  That way it’s always accessible as well and you can add to it as and when needed.

Can you multitask any of your chores?  If you commute to work, can you use this time to deal with your emails, or listen to an audio version of that book you keep meaning to read?

 

 

There are lots of ways you can do more with the time that you have. Perhaps getting on with it, instead of complaining about how much you have to do would be a good first step?  #JustSaying

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Outsource Anything!

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re clearly fans of outsourcing.  If you don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to do something, there’s no reason why someone else can’t take it off your hands, and that someone doesn’t have to be a member of staff.

 

Outsourcing specific tasks can be a great way to keep overheads down, and remove the stress of having to actually manage a workforce. However, we also know it’s now always plain sailing.  Many of our clients have come through referrals, and most have had bad experienced with Virtual Assistants in the past.

 

How then do you make sure whoever you’re outsourcing a task to (whether it’s a HR firm, VA or web designer) is actually up to the job?  Here are Lu’s top tips to minimise heartbreak down the line.

 

#1 – Google them

This one should be pretty obvious, but if you’ve been given the name of an individual or company, actually look them up.  Ideally a search will bring them up on LinkedIn, and show their website – but what else do they have going on?

 

Hare they on Trust Pilot or any other independent review site?  Do they feature in affiliated bodies or on industry sites?  Find out as much as you can from the get go.

 

#2 – Social proof

Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are great ways to find out more about a company and/or individual.  What does their LinkedIn profile say?  Do they have any recommendations or endorsements?  What’s their approach to social media like, and do they actively get involved with other people online?

 

These are all valid questions no matter what you’re hiring for, but definitely take that in to account when looking for a self-confessed social media specialist.

 

#3 – Time management

Everyone charges differently, whether it by the hour or per job.  You need to make sure you understand your partner’s pricing structure, and how that can impact you.  If they do charge by the hour, is it full or part of?  Will they keep a timesheet so you can see precisely where that time is being spent?  If you block-book time, can you be sure that time is being used, and do you have control of how it’s used?  If you have multiple projects, will they allocate time equally, or based on urgency?  Are you in danger of 20 hours being used on one thing, and having to buy more time to get the other jobs done?

 

#4 – Payment terms

This goes for everything – find out what the payment terms are!  Don’t assume it’s 30 days, even if that’s your company standard.  Equally, ask about VAT and any other charges you might be expected to pay.

 

Are phone calls free, within reason?  Or does every single bit of contact cost you money?  Make sure you know what the score is before you sign up so as to avoid any nasty shocks down the line.

 

#5 – Sign a contract

Unexpected invoices can quickly sour relationships, so it’s important everyone knows where they stand.  You might be as good as your word, but are they?  Have a contract signed at the start so there are no arguments later on as to what was expected.

 

If they don’t have a contract as standard, run a mile!

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offers a wide range of services from content writing to social media management and invoicing to document preparation.  If there’s anything you don’t have time for, Time Saving Heroes can help.

 

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk

Your customers aren’t online – so there’s no point in using social media

A previous colleague of mine, Seb, who is now a business growth consultant recently introduced me to one of his clients with the aim of encouraging them to start engaging with social media.  Whilst Seb understands the value all aspects of social media and digital marketing can bring to any business, he didn’t feel he was in the best position to really sell the realities to this company.

Two hours later, and I think I answered all their questions, addressed some concerns they had and I’ve definitely given them lots to think about. One thing I personally found very interesting is that one of their main reasons for not wanting to engage with social media marketing was because their clients/target audience aren’t online.

The conversation actually went something like this:

Client:   Our clients aren’t on social media.

Me:        Oh, you’ve asked them?

Client:   No, but they’re of a certain generation. They just wouldn’t be.

Me:        Isn’t that ageist and a little short-sighted?

Client:   Erm …

 

The reality is, there is no reason why you should automatically assume any potential clients aren’t online in some capacity. Perhaps they’re not prolific on Facebook, and no they might not know a Tweet from a Snap but that is not the point.

 

For every “older” member of our community who would rather talk to a real live person, there is at least one member who prefers to source information before having a discussion.  Too often have we had experiences where live customer service is lacking, personal skills are diminishing and therefore it’s often preferable to limit the duration of such interactions. Researching information first, and then asking specific questions based on what you already know, is far quicker and more pleasant in many situations.

 

Client:   OK, but the amount of people we’d reach via social media wouldn’t be worth the amount of time, money and effort it takes to create the content.

 

I completely get this worry and for my faults I am exceptionally honest with my response – you might be right.

The problem with content and social media marketing is it can be hard to pinpoint precise returns.  It’s not as simple as post and sell.  Your results aren’t always neatly quantifiable and therefore it can be quite scary for any business, regardless of their potential marketing budget.

However, the more you do to promote your business, the more opportunities you have to make a sale.  True, you could post for six months on social media and never hear of a single sale being made as a direct result of that – but I promise you, if you don’t post on social media you won’t sell anything via that route.

Equally, a post on social media could be shared by one person who has no interest in your offering, but as a result, is seen by someone who might.  That “someone” might not have stumbled across you via any other means. Or it might be the fifth time in a week they have seen your business name and it was the sheer volume of your advertising that persuaded them to get in touch.

How do you actually know?

The truth is, your customers are probably more online than you think they are. And if they’re not, they’re friends and influential family members might be. Why take the risk that your competitors are out there talking to them, whilst you keep your mouth shut?