Melanie works hard to keep up with her 91-year-old dad. He loves to travel but Melanie has it all figured out. She has a portable job so she just takes her job on the road and they go. Melanie has a physical home office in the great city of New Orleans, however, she has learned that you don’t have to see those home office walls as borders. The travel bug combined with a portable job are a match made in heaven, a pairing that goes together like fresh brewed coffee and warm sugar topped beignets. So, Melanie and her dad just pack up those famous N’awlins beignets and her laptop and hit the road. To Melanie, home is where the internet is. Sweet.
Here’s the interview with Melanie:
Q: What’s it been like for you and your family working from home during this time of the pandemic?
A: “COVID kept us down a little at first but we’ve been finding ways to deal with it. My dad’s been feeling good so we took a driving trip to Omaha, Nebraska. Then we took another trip with our whole family, kids and all, rented a big place in the mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. That was our Christmas present to our dad. He wanted to visit the mountains. We’ve done what we can to take precautions, trying to stay off the beaten path to avoid crowds as much as possible and avoiding airplanes. Now we’re talking about getting an RV.”
Q: How long have you been working from home with TeleReach Corporate?
A: “This April is seven years. At first, everyone referred to my working from home as my make-believe job, but then I started showing them my checks and said to them ‘see, here’s my make-believe check!’ Since COVID though, people will be more likely to take working from home seriously because more people have had a taste of working from home, and realize that there really are legitimate work from home jobs like ours out there.”
Q: Because of COVID, there are people out there who need to make a change, including changing careers. What can you tell people about cold calling who haven’t done it before?
A: “There is nothing in cold calling to be afraid of. There are a few things that help me and that might help somebody else by keeping in mind:
- The phone call is less intimidating than an in-person call. I started cold calling by cold calling businesses in person, walking into businesses and not knowing what I would face or how I would be perceived. That was pretty scary compared to what we do calling businesses on the phone. The prospects we call on the phone can’t see us so it doesn’t matter how you look in person. It only matters how you look on the phone.
- Next call. If people don’t want to talk to me, that’s OK. I can just move on and go to the next call.
- Relationships are with people. I used to be pretty shy until I got a couple of years in outside sales under my belt. It forced me to change and I eventually gained more confidence in meeting new people. Now, in making phone calls instead of meeting people in person, it’s not exactly the same, but relationships are still with people. It’s possible to build relationships over the phone with people you don’t know. I’ve learned that if I can do it in person, I can do it over the phone.
A relationship breakthrough. This week on the team meeting, I just had to share a situation in particular. I’ve been working on getting through to a certain large financial organization for a long time and finally I had a breakthrough this week. I have been speaking with this one lady, Ilene, who puts me on hold, never comes back and won’t put me through. So finally, I explained to her, ‘Ilene, you may be under the impression that I’m a typical sales person, but I’m actually calling these people because there is a conference coming up and it’s my job to make sure they receive the invitation and find out who plans to attend, but every time I call, you leave me on hold and never come back’. She said, ‘well Melanie, let me put you through.’ The guy I was calling at that moment was not in but now when I call back, she asks me about my day and puts me through. So now, I have a new and improved relationship with Ilene.
- We’re not selling. We’re not selling a product or a service per se. We’re only selling an appointment. That is another thought that relieves the intimidation factor to our type of cold calling. Our role is only to generate a lead and set an appointment, not to close a sale.”
Q: What type of work experience did you have before you worked with TeleReach?
A: “I worked in the telecommunication industry. I was the first sales person in the area hired to work for the mobile start-up of Bell South, before anybody even understood what a cell phone was. Then I worked for another large cell phone company. Then I worked for a start-up cell phone company. With the start-up company, my boss back then was quite the innovator. He was before his time and got permission to allow the outside sales reps to work from their homes so they didn’t have to waste as much time coming into the office. The company set us all up, had installers come in and equip our home offices, set us up with computers and even furniture if we wanted.
Looking back at that situation, I was very successful with that company, in the top 10 in the whole nation. They actually got more work out of me because of the home office set up. I was able to fax things at night after hours so that I could make the best use out of the daytime selling hours. That experience stuck with me and shaped my desire to want to work from home again and helped me to understand what it takes to work from home.
After that, I worked in retail for a while, and I quit because I didn’t like the idea of having to wait for a customer to come to me. It was boring, plus I was on my feet. I started looking for a way to work from home and that’s when I found TeleReach.”
Q: What have you learned about what it takes to work from home that you can share with people who haven’t done it before?
A: “Every Sunday night I do my planning. I write down my goals. I know how much money I want to make and I know what I need to do to make my goals. I create a dashboard for myself, so that come Monday morning, I am ready. I include the days of the week and map out my plan. As I get my production done during the week, I check it off on my dashboard. It helps me stay motivated.
I’ve had to train myself and my family to be able to function working from home but it’s worth it because of all the good things about working from home. I’ve even quit smoking so that I wouldn’t have to hang out the window anymore, but that was a good thing too. I’ve trained myself to sit at the desk and work in a disciplined way and not go wash dishes.
There are a lot of things I like about working from home:
Expenses. I like that I don’t have all of the expenses that I had in outside sales. Gas, clothes and other things like that are expensive.
Time. I don’t have the loss of time every day. I can get out of bed and be ready to work in minutes compared to what it takes to get ready to travel around the city on outside sales calls.
Family. My father is getting older. I like that I can be around to take care of him and still be working. I like that I am able to see my grandbabies and babysit if needed.
Flexibility. I can take off to take my dad to a doctor appointment when needed and make up the time by coming back and working later in the day.
Portability. One time, my son’s home flooded and I had to go over there to supervise the contractors while everybody else was at work at an office. I was able to work out of the travel trailer they had as temporary quarters while their home was under construction. I spent about three weeks there working out of the camper while the contractors were coming and going and just kept on working while sitting at the little dinette. I was able to keep my eye on things and keep working.
Many times, I have taken my computer over to other family member’s houses to help with something, but usually, I am able to still keep working. I have taken the boys to baseball camp for a week and I just work from a hotel room same as I would if I was in my home office. My laptop is ready go. Sometimes I even take my monitor with me. I’m paperless. I don’t need to print. I have the noise cancelling software on my laptop. Even if I was making calls on the beach, nobody would know. All I need is good internet.”
About the Author
Tracie Chancellor, CEO and Founder of TeleReach Corporate, national business to business call center specializing in sales appointment setting and lead generation, based in Houston, Texas. Chancellor is an MBA graduate of the University of Houston with over 20 years hands-on sales and marketing experience, working with privately-held businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune businesses in the business to business marketing space.