How to Effectively Work from Home

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The idea of working from home was never something that I considered in the past. When I’m at home, and all of my friends can attest to this, I never sit still. I’ll sit for a bit and chat or watch the movie that we put on, but after a few minutes I’ll be up washing my dishes, throwing in a load of laundry, folding laundry or taking the garbage out. One thing I don’t do very well is sit still.

When we first discussed the idea of work-from-home days, I wasn’t fully on board. I wasn’t sure how productive I’d be if I were to work from home because I wouldn’t have the girls from the office around to help keep me focused. I was worried that I would get distracted too easily and that I wouldn’t get anything done.

What I’ve noticed since I started working from home is that I’m actually much more productive at home than when I’m in the office. I have zero distractions, except for when my two kitties want to cuddle while I’m in the middle of a phone call, I’m able to make calls and complete demos without fighting to focus through background noise or conversations, and I also find that I’m much more confident because there’s no one around to listen in when I’m having conversations with prospects.

If you’re thinking of trying out work-from-home days in your office, I encourage you to continue reading. Today I’ve decided to share some of the tactics that I use to make sure that I’m both productive and efficient on my work-from-home days:

  1. Finish your chores ahead of time. Since I now work from home every Monday, I’ve devoted my Sunday evenings to “clean-up time”. Before going to bed I’ll make sure that my dishes are done, my floors are swept, the garbage is taken out if need be and that everything else is tidied up around my apartment. I also like to make sure that my work space is neat and dusted or else that will give me an excuse to get up and put my work aside! 
  1. Make sure you bring everything home that you’ll need. One thing that I make sure to do every Friday afternoon before heading home for the weekend is load up my USB key with all of the necessary documentation that I’ll need to get through Monday. If I have demos on Monday, I make sure to print out all of the paperwork that I need, organize it, and pack it away in a folder to keep myself organized. Quite a bit changes here week-by-week, so I make sure to update my USB key weekly. That way I always have the most up-to-date documentation/paperwork while I’m working at home!
  1. Get comfortable. What I love most about working from home (and I realize that not everyone works best this way) is getting into comfortable pyjamas, putting on my fuzziest slippers and wearing a hat because guess what? I don’t have to impress anyone with the way that I look on Mondays anymore! My favourite part about working from home is the fact that I get to do what I love in the comfort of my own home. I also find that when I’m comfortable I’m able to focus much better on whatever it is that I’m doing.
  1. Outline a bit of a routine. Even though you’re doing the same work as when you’re in the office, it’s good to have a different routine when you’re at home. This works for me anyway. It helps keep me on track with everything that I need to get done and it helps keep my focused. Being in a different environment and switching things up also makes the week feel much shorter once I get back into the office on Tuesday morning!


The Benefits of In-Person Meetings


StaffStat is currently in start-up mode, and as such we must be frugal and thrifty. When it comes to expenses, we stretch our dollar and often seek the most ‘bang for our buck’ and ideally spend on what brings back the best return on investment.

As a start up, we want to be in front of as many people as we possibly can. While we can provide demos and training sessions remotely, it is always ideal for us to get in front of our prospects and customers. This helps with establishing, building and maintaining a rapport.

As humans we are hard-wired to relate to a face, to a voice, to an actual person. Relaying information via telephone, email and virtual meetings is valuable in time and cost savings as well as accessing a vast market as location is irrelevant. However, I place much value in time spent face-to-face and believe it will always bring back a large ROI.

Recently, I had the opportunity to provide onsite training to a new customer, providing three separate sessions over the course of the day. While visiting the area, I ensured that I filled my calendar with other meaningful meetings with prospects and current customers. While these meetings certainly could have been held remotely there is certain value in a face-to-face meeting.

Today, I will share the benefits and takeaways I have found through in-person meetings.

The benefits: In-person meetings provide the opportunity to establish, maintain and foster interpersonal trust and this is invaluable and enhances the relationship. The ability to connect and engage is developed while placing a face to the name and the company is difficult to establish during remote sessions. The opportunity to have off-the-cuff conversations about your product or service will have a greater impact when delivered in person. In-person meetings drive participation and increased interaction.

What I learned: In person meetings can assist in clarifying meaning. If there are questions or individuals who require assistance, their answers can be addressed with a hands-on approach. If there are communication or translation difficulties, these are better handled in-person as opposed to a call where information and meaning can be lost. When completing training sessions, some learn better when they are in a classroom structured environment and are able to see a face behind the product they will use every day.

What I left them with: A human connection. After each meeting I received more personal correspondence and now my customers know the face they are speaking to in future ‘virtual’ conversations. In-person conversation establishes emotions and feelings, something that technology and ‘virtual’ meetings cannot embrace.

If timelines, budget and logistics approve, based on my experience and the mutual benefits I will always push for in person meetings.



Building a Brand on a Dime

nomoney.jpgGood branding is at the core of any good company.  When you’re just starting, developing your brand with limited funds takes some creative thinking.  I knew the day I opened Plan A for business that I wanted to build a brand that our customers recognized as compassionate, dependable and logical. I wanted my brand to communicate everything about my vision and with a shoestring budget. I set out to use my limited resources as strategically as possible.  Six years later, we are known as the largest health care tech staffing company in the North.  We put out a premium service and our health care pool is known to be the best around.  Our branding has played a big part of building that relationship.

Here are some of the things I did and that we continue to do that have helped us to shape the brand we are today:

1.Be unique. Our solutions are creative, proven AND unique! They combine giant pain points with simple customized technology for an effective and efficient staffing strategy.  How’s that for unique?

2.Create your own culture. I knew from day one if I was ever going to be somebody’s boss that I would work hard to be the best boss I could be.  The culture started with me so I put everything I valued on the table:  honesty, accountability, communication, integrity, team work, humour and fun and I got to work creating a culture around that.

3.Grow and expand your network. There are many ways to do this.  I started by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and getting out there.   I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and Toastmasters right away.  I got involved with volunteer work, I attended networking events and I invited lots of people to lunch!  I got to know many people in the community and my network is continuously growing.  Other ways we’ve built our network is by our business blog and through online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

4.Deliver exceptional customer service. We are dealing with people and health care so we have the occasional snafu.  Even when things are chaotic, in fact, especially when they are chaotic, our focus is still on keeping our customers happy.  Our ‘run into the fire’ attitude and focus on solutions keeps our relationships with our clients strong no matter what is going on.

5.Have a good name and a logo to match. A strong brand starts with your company’s name.  Your company name and logo are going to appear on everything:  business cards, letterhead, car signage, promotional items, website, social media, etc. You’re going to be looking at it and talking about it for a long time.  Make sure they look and sound great!

6.Speak with one voice. Knowing what we do and why we do it has always been important.  Having a team that speaks in the same language has been a game changer!

7.Consistency. Since day one, our marketing material has been light, sometimes funny and relatable, inspirational and focused.   We stay true to this through all of our marketing platforms.

8.Know what your business stands for. Knowing what we stand for has helped us to build solid connections with our clients, our staff pool, within our office, with people we do business with and in our community.  Knowing what we stand for also guides us when we are faced with something we are against.

Branding your business is important.  These inexpensive strategies have helped me get my name out there, successfully, without a big budget!  Let me know what works for you!

Happy Monday!


4 Ways to Stay Motivated When Working in Sales.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, working in sales isn’t easy. I’ve been ignored, told no and been shut down more in the last six months – since I started at StaffStat – than I ever was for the 23 years of my life before starting in this role. Being rejected, avoided and turned away hurts, no matter how used to it you might think you are. Maybe I’ll get more accustomed to it as time goes on, but I won’t know for sure until some time passes. As I’m sure most people can imagine, staying motivated when you’re constantly being told no can be difficult; it’s something that I’ve definitely had to practice and place a large focus on.

When I first started, I found it difficult to stay motivated and see that light at the end of the tunnel, so today I thought I would share some of the approaches that I’ve taken in order to stay motivated when working in a sales role:

  1. Remember your successes. When you’re stuck in that rut that seems impossible to get out of, remind yourself of how great it felt to get your last contract. When it seems like all you’re doing is wasting your time reaching out to prospects who never get back to you, take some time to think about how great it was when you’d been calling and emailing that one prospect for what seemed like forever and you finally had the chance to connect with them and discuss whatever it is that you have to offer!
  1. Take a quick break. I realize that not everyone has the time or the ability to step outside and get some fresh air when they feel stressed out or demotivated. By ‘take a quick break’ I mean shift your focus to something else to take your mind off of whatever it is that’s bogging you down. Dim your screen and clean up your desk, go for a walk and get a glass of water, put down the phone for a bit and sort through that stack of papers that have been sitting on your desk for the past week. Do whatever you have to do to take your mind off of the stressors, even just for a short period of time.
  1. Place a focus on self-care. Taking time for yourself when you’re away from the office has more of an effect on your performance than you know once you’re back in the office. Allowing yourself time to clear your head and regain your focus can make a world of difference. It gives you more time and energy to enjoy your home life and time after work with your friends and family. While it may not seem as though self-care would have much impact on your work life, I know that I have a much better work week when I’ve taken time to relax and enjoy time with friends and family over the weekend and during the evenings.
  1. Try a work-from-home day. This is something that we’ve decided to try out in our office this year. Everyone is taking one day each week to work from their office at home to take a break from the typical day-to-day office bustle. We work in a very open-concept office, so it can often be hard to focus when there are meetings taking place or phones ringing in every corner. Yesterday was my first official “work-from-home” day and I can honestly say that I got so much done. I got much more done at my home office than I normally do in-house!

These are a few of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned along my journey in sales. I would love to hear what helps keep you motivated in your professional life – leave your tips and tricks in the comments!

Happy Wednesday!