I’m Victoria Tretis and this is the Remote Working Podcast.

I hope you’re having a great week. Today’s my last day of a week-long break – we’ve been visiting family and, because I’m recording this intro in advance, I’m kinda hoping we had a great time seal spotting over in Norfolk.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll probably know how difficult it can be to take any time off – because when you’re off, the business often stops, and the money stops too. And so a combination of those worries plus staff turnover and the associated onboarding and training, my most recent break of more than a couple of days out of the office was last Christmas. And, quite honestly, I’ve been really freakin’ tired! And so it wasn’t until a client said, “Victoria – I WANT you to take a holiday, because if you’re not looking after yourself then you won’t be able to run a business” that I stood back and realised that the only thing that thinks my clients can’t operate without me for a week is my own darn ego! Ridiculous, right?!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve had some wonderful down time with my family over this last week, and that I’m feeling fully recharged when I return to the office tomorrow.

But let’s talk about what’s happening today.

In this episode, I’m joined by Wendy Harris from WAG Associates. And you’ll have to listen to find out whether that’s something to do with Wives and Girlfriends of the rich and famous. In all seriousness, Wendy and I met on social media and I was immediately drawn to how much energy she had! No wonder she’s brilliant at telemarketing!

In the show, Wendy explains why picking up the phone is sometimes the best thing you can do, as well as what times you should ring people if you’re making prospective calls yourself. We had a lot of fun on this episode and I know you’re going to really value Wendy’s insight into all things remote working.

If you liked today’s episode, please do leave a review. It will only take a moment of your time and I will be forever in your debt. Thank you so much.

Connect with Wendy:

www.wagassociates.com

LinkedIn: Wendy Harris

Twitter: @wagassoc

Facebook: Wag Assoc

 

Show Notes

 

Victoria

Today I am joined by Wendy Harris from WAG Associates. Wendy, hello.

 

Wendy

Hello Victoria. How are you?

 

Victoria

I am so good. How are you doing today?

 

Wendy

Not too bad at all. Thank you.

 

Victoria

Fantastic. Now, WAG Associates, I’m guessing you’re not like wives and girlfriends of the football famous. So tell me what is it that you do?

 

Wendy

WAG really stands for my initials Wendy Ann Gillett. And I’ve since got married, to, Harris. WAH doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. And it was just because I couldn’t think of another name. WAG Associates implies that I occasionally have an Associate that will help me on my campaigns and predominantly, what I do is telemarketing. I will jump on the phone to my clients and ideal customers and talk about them and look for opportunities for them to do work together. I also do team training and one to one power hours to help people because I do feel that it’s really important to have conversations.

 

Victoria

Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons that I am so excited to have you on the show today. Because I think as a remote worker, we can often get caught up in the email and all of the written correspondence. What do you feel that the benefits are on picking up the phone and having a proper conversation with somebody?

 

Wendy

Certainly, it stops all of that email tennis, you’ll ask a question and somebody will reply with another question that you’ve got to answer that will lead to another question. So it goes backwards and forwards. I also think that when you’re having a conversation, you can really hear whether somebody is interested or invested in what it is that you’ve got to say. You start to get a feeling for that relationship building, the tone of their voice, they’re buying into what it is that you’ve got to say. And of course, you get to the bottom of wherever it is that you need to find out and agree what it is that you’re going to do. So you’re forging those next actions. A conversation can do a lot quicker than relying on them waiting for the for the email to pop up or the response that may not even finish the conversation.

 

Victoria

Exactly. There’s a lot of efficiency involved. I think you’re quite right with what you said about building those relationships and building the rapport as well because it is entirely possible to build trust with people that you never meet just through written correspondence. Obviously, people are doing that fantastically well through email marketing. So it’s not impossible, but I do think having either a telephone conversation or even video face to face conversation just helps fast track that level of credibility you have as a business owner and fast track the relationship as well in terms of trust.

 

Wendy

What it is, is that know, like and trust. I’m not knocking social media, that’s how we met. If you’re going to talk about anything, no matter where it is, whether that’s in the written word, over the telephone, or face to face, that the tone in your personality comes across exactly the same all the way along. So they do have that.

 

Victoria

It’s interesting that you mentioned that actually, because I was reading a blog post that a gentleman called Nick Parker wrote. It was an interview that he did and he’s a tone of voice specialist. He was saying that he learned about how to write the way you speak. And then funnily enough, I was writing something from my own business today as well and writing just that, I remember reading something about not being all effervescent and fizzy over social media. And then when they meet you in person, you’re a real Debbie downer. It means to be the same person, and it just makes so much sense. What is the same as having a profile photo? That’s current, and not one that’s 20 years ago?

 

Wendy

It’s exactly the same thing because it is that impression that you’re giving. If you’re going to be writing something, yes, you do need to write something in that certain way. And I know that. I was reading Ruby Wax, something to do with being frazzled. I’m reading that book and it is Ruby Wax in my head. The same with reading Graham Norton, these are not just normal. It’s just to give that example that when you meet somebody and you’re reading something, it sounds like them.

 

Victoria

Expanding on that point, when you are making these calls on behalf of your clients. How are you building trust with your clients so that they know that you will be representing their brand as a true likeness to what their core values are and what it is that they’re selling? How do you build that trust with them so that they work with you in the first place?

 

Wendy

I think that comes down to first impressions. I do believe that in my whole working life and even my personal life that my first instinct about somebody is what anchors where that relationship is going to go. You start to talk about how you can look at growing the business by getting on the phone and talking to people and making meetings or generating quotations for certain things. I think it comes out in how you talk about it. And if you’ve got examples of how you’ve done that for other people as well, and then all of a sudden, you get carried away with that moment.

Quite often, the tone of voice in terms of how I’m representing my clients, it’s me that writes, it is me that helps to represent it. So I am like the Receptionist for their new business. And if they’re looking at that business, it will be me that they will have to get past. So it’s exciting to have that trust of people place in me. Of course, that means that I’m also invested in what my client does. I can’t take on every single client because I might not actually think it’s a viable proposition. I might not have any knowledge about what it is that they do to be able to talk confidently about it. So there’s lots of different variables. It’s got to be something that touches me as well, because then I can speak from the heart as well.

 

Victoria

Definitely. I think that’s a really important core value to have when you are working on a freelance basis, because we can quite often be subjective to that feast or famine. It can be very tempting to take on that non ideal work or something that you don’t actually like you were talking about the gut feel. Your gut feel feels off, but you’re thinking, “I need the money”. I think it can take a certain level of self-assurance and confidence and also an understanding of what you’re good at, in order to make those decisions that are right for both you and also the clients as well. Sometimes saying no to a client is actually the right decision. If you don’t feel that you can best serve them.

 

Wendy

For sure. A lot of the campaigns that I do get involved with are quite high value, service led industries. So of course, those relationships don’t forge overnight, it’s not something that I’m not going to want to put it in my basket this afternoon, and go to check out. Those relationships do take a lot longer to come along. Timing is key, because sometimes they’ll be tied up on a contract. So it’s about being smarter and getting to the point of, “I’m not going to bother you, if you’ve got another three years before you go to be looking at this again”. And people will respect that you’re not trying to pitch to them because they’re not in a position to really be spoken to.

By being a remote worker, I save their eardrums because I’m quite animated on the phone, and my volume can go up. Quite often, I’ll come into their office if it’s a little quiet, that’s great. But soon, they’re happy to see me go. But of course, with technology now, with the CRM systems, it’s all cloud based. They’ll give me my own email accounts like any member of staff, so I can see their calendars. I can get my laptop and I could go work in a coffee shop if I wanted to be quiet, which isn’t very often, but it’s just that it gives people more flexibility to have that skill set anywhere.

 

Victoria

I think what you just said a moment ago about some clients or prospective clients are tied into that three year contract. I think when you’re working as a freelancer, it can be difficult to take rejection, and you can take it quite personally. How do you handle rejection or know when you’re dealing with those phone calls on behalf of your clients?

 

Wendy

That’s a really good one because I see it that as there’s a “yes” or a “not now”. That’s how I categorise it. If there’s somebody that’s going to be really rude or rejecting of you in that kind of fashion, then I don’t think they’re a good fit as a client that you’d want to work for anyway. You go talk to somebody that is happy to be spoken to, in that fashion, manners costs nothing these days. The yeses don’t come along very often. But of course, they come from the maybes, because it’s not now. And if it’s not now, when will it be? And I’ll keep my promise and I’ll stay in touch with you. And I will show you what we can do nearer to the time and that’s where the yeses come about. Because that’s the relationship building part. I don’t see it as rejection. I just see that’s great because I’m getting through to more and more people that I do want to.

 

Victoria

That’s a fantastic approach. And just like even just a mind shift in terms of how you’re thinking about those rejections, and almost getting rid of the ones that you don’t want to work with anyway. And then creating a pipeline that you said. You will promise to follow up on X date following our last conversation. I think that’s absolutely true.

One of the things I did want to talk to you about because I know a lot of people who are remote working sitting in an office or their spare room on their own. For those of us who like the silence, for those of us who are a little bit apprehensive about picking up the phone, what tips can you give for us, in terms of energy levels or just getting in the right frame of mind in order to pick up the phone and make that call?

 

Wendy

I think if you’re on your own, you don’t really need to worry too much about who’s listening in. It comes down to how much you’re going to beat yourself up. So give yourself a break. And, at the end of the day, when you looking to make a phone call, the easiest thing to do is to say, “I’m looking to introduce what I do, but I really want to find out how you do that first”. And that opens the conversation for them to say, “well, what is it that you do? What would you know?”. I could turn around and say we sell coffee beverage equipment. But of course you’ve likely got one because who goes without coffee in the office? It could just be using a little bit of common sense. I know you’re going to have a photocopier in the office. Are you thinking of changing them? Is it to do with a contract? It’s about how you introduce that. And if you’re thinking to yourself that you’re going to be very salesy, stop right there. Because ultimately, you’re an educator.

Anybody that’s on the phone, you’re introducing and educating them that you exist, because it’s likely that if they put in to Google near them, there’s going to be lots of other companies that are going to be beating you in that race online. So you’ve got a personal touch, you’ve reached out and you really want to know how they do things at the moment. If you put your customer first, you will have much better success.

 

Victoria

Would you align that with a social media strategy as well? For instance, maybe this is more relevant for your own social media, which is excellent. I absolutely love your posts. So guys, if you’re not already following Wendy, go and connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

Wendy

I don’t talk about phoning very often. It’s observational about business. You’ve got to have that presence. And you’ve got to have those conversations. Ultimately, by talking about what you see and hear and how it makes you feel, is how you’re going to resonate with somebody. I was out at the weekend, funny enough, and I was in a group of friends. I was being introduced to one of their extended friends. And they went, “aren’t you the lady that does WAG Associates?”. I didn’t know this person. They hadn’t liked or commented or shared on any of my posts, yet they knew who I was. So it’s those people that don’t engage, that are the ones that you’re needing to be talking to really through that written word, by social media or whatever. And of course, you’ve got to align your posting to whatever the platform is. I love LinkedIn. But I treat most of them the same. Because ultimately, it’s me you’re buying.

 

Victoria

It comes back to what you were saying about tone of voice, because I know a couple of years ago, it was all the trend to tailor your content to the platform. It needs to be specific. To be honest, I put exactly the same content on Facebook, as I do on LinkedIn. The only reason I do Twitter slightly differently is because I’m limited by the character count.

 

Wendy

And the attention span. Who’s got the attention span of really going into the feed unless they’re specifically looking for something?

 

Victoria

I agree completely. Thinking about the tech that you use in the business, you’ve already mentioned, CRM. What else do you use to help support your clients on a remote basis?

 

Wendy

I’ve got Microsoft Teams, so we can use that for chat. I had a little play with Slack but I think we ended up on Slack more than we did any work.

 

Victoria

That’s a danger with Slack, isn’t it? I’ve had a couple of clients say, “should we use slack?” And I just thought, “no”, because it’s another distraction. I’d rather keep everything aligned in my inbox. Because the problem that I’ve got is that if you send me an instant message, a text message, or a Facebook message I don’t have a way to then process that incoming request. I can read it, but sometimes I can’t mark it as unread. I can’t flag it, I can’t store it and forward it to my project management system. So I feel like introducing stalking my business will just open up a can of worms because I worry I’ll drop a ball. And it’s so much easier to streamline everything through the one system.

 

Wendy

If you’ve got a process that you can follow, it makes life much easier. I’m just playing with a new process for a client now which is not a CRM, but it’s more for automated marketing. Which I think will help in the process of keeping in touch, because there are just so many people to stay in touch with that, it would be impossible. It’s about thinking about those numbers. When it comes to the tech, it’s fairly basic. I’ve got superfast fibre, which means that I can have 20 billion tabs open at one time, and I don’t drop anything. But other than that, simple spreadsheets still work for me in what I do. And I look to set up my email addresses for different campaigns. So it’s all in one inbox. And then it’s just a question of reporting what people want to know. And a lot of my research is done on LinkedIn, I could find people on LinkedIn. I’ve got a credit checking facility because there’s no point getting in touch with a business that’s got 100 staff but is looking likely to go bust. It all kind of varies. With calendars, it’s all about efficiency, making sure that if I want to book an appointment, I can see a slot in the diary and then make others free. I’m just reliant on everybody else keeping it up to date.

 

Victoria

I felt like you raise a really valid point. You don’t need to over complicate any of this. And I see a lot of posts in freelance groups, where people are going, “how much does it cost to start up?” “What do I need to get going?” When the reality is, it can be as cheap as you want it to be as long as you’ve got the right level of say. You’re registered with HMIC, you’re registered with the LCO. We’ve got relevant insurance. It can be as cheap or as expensive as you like, you don’t need to over complicate it.

 

Wendy

Absolutely. A lot of the images that I’ve used are either converted or on Word Swag. I love Word Swag, because it’s really easy on my phone. I can just grab an image and overlay it with some text. Canva is a little bit better with creating some PDF documents for tips and tricks for the telemarketing with some of the training that I do. It’s just about keeping it all fresh. But if you’ve got a really comprehensive LinkedIn profile, you don’t even need a website these days, you’re pretty much covered. If you’ve got a Google account, you can be posting to that. Google will bring you up so that people will see where you are on the map and what your opening hours are. Even with Yell.com, you can do it for free. As long as you can populate as many of those directories as possible that are free. If people are looking for you specifically, they will find you.

 

Victoria

I agree completely. What are your thoughts on peak productivity times and energy levels?

 

Wendy

With productivity times, I think everybody needs a break through the day. If you’re like me and you’re on the phone, you’re banging every call away, then yes, you need to have a break. Every hour and a half away, get a break, get a glass of water. People don’t get started straight away. They do different tasks at different times of the day. The first and last thing are a good time to catch hold of somebody, but not at a great time to interrupt them, because that’s when they’re being productive with other things like checking their social media and checking their email. I think it depends what it is that you’re doing. And of course, that twelve to two lunchtime. It can be a bit tricky if you’re calling out, but it depends why you’re calling out. I will always have new stuff, because it’s unlikely I’m going to speak to anybody on the first call. But somebody on Reception will help me by confirming who I need to speak to, and give me an email address to send them some information. I know can turn that downtime of lunchtime into time.

People say, “don’t call first thing on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon”, has not been, in my experience, a really bad thing. It’s not been my experience at all. Certainly depending on how high up the food chain is that you’re looking to speak to. First thing and last thing on a Monday morning and Friday afternoon is when that person is going to be in the office, to command the troops before they go out and they do what they need to do in their world. So it’s unlikely you’re going to get them on a Wednesday because they’re busy back to back with meetings. I think it’s horses for courses, six of one half a dozen of another.

 

Victoria

Do you think that also applies for when you’re sending emails that as well? Because there’s the whole “don’t send out on a Monday morning. Don’t send it at nine o’clock. Don’t send it Friday afternoon.”

 

Wendy

I think with automated emails, yes, that is something. There’s some very clever people that have put lots of algorithms together to actually give you the best time to send and post things. So I wouldn’t undo all of that hard work and learning that they’ve done. However, if you’re on the phone and you put the phone down to somebody, and you email them straight away, I think that has a really big impact on that person because you’ve done it straight away. It’s going to sit in their inbox for them to action at a later date. If they’re not expecting it, that may have a different outcome. But of course, as long as you promise that you’ll follow it up in in a timely fashion, in the next few days, then they’re expecting you will. If you don’t ring to follow it up then you’re not going to be the ones that are going to make that next action. Because you’ve promised that you’re going to do it, why should they? So there’s a bit of psychology behind what you’re doing.

 

Victoria

One of the things that’s really helped me with that. Because I’m a big fan of “Thank You” messages and doing that follow up. Like after we’ve wrapped up today, they’ll be an email to you to say, “Wendy, thanks so much. This is what happens next”. To help me out, I normally draft that email before I’ve had the call. So it might be a little bit different for you because you don’t know if you’re going to get through to somebody. Let’s say it’s a prospective client call and I’ve just had the consultation. I’ve got the thank you toxin tailored, I’m going to insert a bit that was relevant about what they said. So it just makes the process a lot more efficient because it’s there. I know you mentioned that you use Outlook and Outlook has got a send later option, so has Gmail, which is what I use.

So if you are saying that you’re going to follow up in a couple of days, you can actually write that follow up email as soon as you’ve come off the phone, or as soon as you’ve promised to do it and schedule it to send two days later. It just adds to the efficiency. Again, it delivers what you say you promise you’re going to do, which overall makes you more credible as a brand as well.

 

Wendy

Exactly. And in Outlook, you’ve got a signature so you can template and personalise it. Same in Gmail, I use canned responses. It’s useful because the body of what it is that you’re looking to impart on that person stays the same generally. It’s a generic piece of marketing material, isn’t it? But of course, what you have to say about the last time we spoke or when they were on holiday, “how was the holiday?”. It’s those personal touches that make all the difference by being able to personalise them.

 

Victoria

I think if you don’t have a CRM, again, it comes back to not having to over complicate it. I keep a little note in Google Contacts. Like you said, if somebody is on holiday, just make a little note of it. Since I was at a wedding last week, I followed up this person on Monday. It was a scheduled email to go out at eight o’clock. “Hope you had a lovely time at the wedding, when we said that we were going to have a call this week, when are you free? Here’s my availability”. I was able to do all of that last week.

 

Wendy

Of course, and setting yourself tasks in your calendar. Because outlook is smart enough as well so that you can have your contacts saved, add it to your calendar and have task lists that you don’t miss those important things. When I’m looking at lists of people to ring, I need a much better system but I run a business behind that. There’s things that I need to do and I need to remember. The one thing that I always pay attention to is the end of the month where it says, “update your social media profiles” and “send your invoices on a recurring basis”, but it is running your own business. As a freelancer working from home working remotely. There is an awful lot of resources that you can use to help you stay on track of things. People don’t tell you a lot of the information that you need to know like keeping your books, filing if you’ve registered, all of these things. So find yourself people that can help you stay doing the things that you love doing and what is going to earn you the money. Understanding how to do these things is really useful. It’s like you make a cup of tea and if you make a bad one, nobody’s going to ask you again. But if you understand how to make that cup of tea, you’ll appreciate a good one when it’s made for you.

 

Victoria 

Are you are you saying this because you’ve seen the photo on my social media about how badly I make tea?

 

Wendy

Well, I thought you needed a new mug actually.

 

Victoria

My other half did say to me the other day, “I’m going to teach you how to make tea” and he literally pulled away the one that I’d cut with love.

If you weren’t doing WAG Associates and the wonderful training that you do, how do you think you’d be spending your time?

 

Wendy

I think I might have become an interior designer.

 

Victoria

Fancy! I do like the way you’ve decorated your log cabin.

 

Wendy

I love my little cabin in the garden. I’ve got enough points that I can move it around. But I’m comfortable with this at the moment. I think, since this small child has always been a bit of a chatterbox. I think that was the term that was called. And it always had lots and lots of questions, not that the advert for the BBC bites at the moment, it’s “I got asked this, find somebody else that can answer her.”. And I think that inquiring mind just led me to have that conversation. So that or I’d want to be famous. And I would have taken drama. I don’t know. I really don’t know.

 

Victoria

I am grateful that you started by the associates and that we were able to have today’s conversation. So thank you so much for joining me on today’s show, Wendy.

 

Wendy

It’s been my pleasure.

 

Victoria

Thank you.

So over the next few episodes, I’m going to be having some fantastic guests coming in to speak with me about all of the issues relating to building a remote working business and all of the tech issues and the tech challenges that building a team and building a trust along the way as well. So I hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, drop me an email. It’s podcast@victoriatretis.co.uk.

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If you liked the episode, please do give us a review. It will only take a moment of your time and I will be forever in your debt. Thank you so much.