Kevin recently broke our virtual call center’s weekly production record for setting busines to business sales appointments, so we sat down with Kevin and asked the question everyone’s been asking, “Kevin, what’s your secret?” Kevin’s answer, “Pomodoros”.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. The idea behind the technique is that the timer instills a sense of urgency. Rather than feeling like you have endless time in the workday to get things done and then ultimately squandering those precious work hours on distractions, you know you only have 25 minutes to make as much progress on a task as possible.
Q: Have you tried this time management method before? Or is it something new?
A: “I’ve tried it a few times in the past before I came to work here with TeleReach Corporate but it wasn’t the same. The work we do here and the way we work is perfect for Pomodoros. Working from home makes it more possible to implement Pomodoros. When you’re in an office, you have more distractions, plus you have your coworkers looking at you for taking so many breaks. Or you may have your boss looking over your shoulder thinking that you may be wasting time because you are not working straight through. You tend to feel kind of guilty trying to work the Pomodoros in a typical office environment because of peer pressure.
Now, as we all work from home, you don’t have the distractions and you don’t have the peer pressure or a boss that makes it harder to take the breaks. When you work for too long of a period, you get diminishing returns, whereas if you focus then take a break, you get reenergized. You get more work done despite working less time.”
Q: What was different about that week you broke the record?
A: “The week I broke the record, I set 2 goals that were activity goals, 1) dial 200 dials per day and 2) work eight Pomodoros a day. Eight Pomodoros per day is 40 Pomodoros for the week, but when you do the math, that’s actually only about 17 man hours of dialing time. If you really focus during the blocks, you can get more done than if you work the entire 40 hours straight. With each break you’re getting re-energized and the day and week don’t look so daunting. You think, all I gotta’ do is focus and dial straight for 25 minutes. You can do anything for 25 minutes. Sticking to this system makes you a lot more productive and you get better results. When I first started to work here, I would work straight through, take no breaks and work late and early, and I didn’t have as much success as when I do it with the block time and take more breaks.
In weeks that I do well, it’s also because I start early in the day and get the momentum going. Brain Tracy said in his main sales book that the average person doesn’t start until 9:30 or 10 in the morning, so if you are able to start earlier than the average sales person, you’ll have momentum going, you’ll have all of these extra hours and get 50% more time in the day than everybody else.”
Q: How long have you been working from home and what motivated you to seek work you can do from home?
A: “I’ve been working from home since 2007 and for TeleReach since 2017. I had several reasons for wanting to work from home. I was kind of in an in between state in the middle of moving. I wasn’t sure where I was going to be and working from home means you can work from anywhere.
Flexibility – The main thing it gives you is the flexibility to structure your time however you want it, on your own terms to get done whatever you need to get done.
No commute – In theory you can roll out of bed and be at work in five minutes. Not having to commute saves a lot of time and working from home gives you that time back.
Cost savings – I decided to move and keep doing the same work but from home instead of renting office space. All I really needed was the telephone to do my work. I moved to an area in New York where the cost of living is cheap and also an area where my wife has family.”
Q: What background did you have that has helped you break these records and be so successful? What did you do before?
A: “I was a stock broker but I was mainly focused on insurance and annuities. Working as a stockbroker for all those years, I was used to being in sales over the phone, a similar experience where you perform or you don’t make any money. So, I was used to performance-based pay and I was used to being my own boss and I was used to doing sales work over the phone, all skills I learned while being a broker.
I did have a certain amount of immediate success here by using the sales skills I used as a broker, but it turns out this job is very different in many ways and the skills don’t transfer one to one. The skills of selling, getting people to write a check are not the same as the lead generating skills of getting people to set an appointment. They are different skill sets with some overlap but it’s two different things. I’ve learned a lot of new skills since I have been here at this job that has made me better at this job.
In the beginning, my approach was just too much brute force, hammering the phone with a little arm twisting. With our lead generation work, we are casting a wider net in that not everyone we speak with is even qualified. It’s not the same as the sales I was doing before where everyone was qualified. We are not looking for people who are immediately going to pull out their checkbook. With appointment setting we are weeding out a lot of these people that are not qualified. It really doesn’t make sense to hammer people that are not even qualified. Don’t take no for an answer doesn’t make sense because they are giving us a legitimate no. They are not in a position to benefit from what we are calling them about. Now, I need to qualify before pitching.
I’ve also learned that it’s better mentally if you can just let it go. In the past I never let it go. Selling and generating appointments is not the same thing. You should be able to take it easier. Your job here is to keep that wider group of people and just sell the meeting, not make a sale.”
Q. You must have had quite a bit of sales training. Any favorite books or programs you’d like to share?
A. “The biggest part of my training was on the job training. I was fortunate that when I went to sales, the person who hired me took a serious interest in training the people he hired. The guy who owned the company in my first job critiqued my calls. I asked him to and I wrote down everything he said.
There are so many opportunities to grow just through the experience of making the calls because you get immediate feedback. One of the best teachers is by getting on the phone, and here at TeleReach we have the ability to listen to our own sound files, learn from that and adjust.
I’ve gone through a lot of different books and programs. The number one favorite of all would have to be Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s not directly about sales but it is about everything including sales, because it’s about believing in what you can achieve. Then there are the classics like The Greatest Salesman in the World and The Closers by Ben Gay III. Scott Channel wrote a book all about setting appointments, Setting Sales Appointments, and his new one Sell the Meeting. Another one is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes.
I used to read or listen to audios when I was commuting back and forth to work. One of the best salesmen I’ve ever known, always kept a book with him in case he was waiting in line somewhere like the post office. He was able to read more books than anyone I know which I think contributed so much to his being such a good salesperson.”
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.