My feelings concerning working from home are about 50% FOR working from home, and 50% longing to be back in the office. I miss the days of routine, getting into "work mode" when stepping into the office, putting on real pants that include buttons, and the personal interaction with our team. However, I appreciate the flexibility of working from home, elastic waistbands, hitting a work out and then sitting down to write a blog, throwing a load of laundry in before a conference call, and saving the time of a commute.
The AdvicePay team is currently planning to work from home through the end of 2020 to protect our coworkers, families, and communities. As many of us face another season working, schooling, and "staycationing" from home, I thought it was time to put together a list of what we've learned works for the "work from home lifestyle" now that we have some time under our belts.
Virtual selling is a huge adjustment. For most in the financial industry, we're used to connecting and building relationships with our clients in person. The same goes for marketing and sales when attending conferences and meetings. A personal connection might seem harder to make, but we have a few tips to up your virtual selling game and build trust with your clients.
Get your tech figured out. We all know there is nothing worse than getting on a call and spending the first five minutes fumbling through any connectivity issues. Log on 5 minutes before a sales call, so you have enough time to troubleshoot any problems and always provide a call-in number in case your client has tech problems. These measures will help mitigate any internet or camera issues. Our team uses Zoom, but other options include Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and GoToMeeting. It doesn't hurt to have a backup system in case one of them experiences service issues.
Use webinars to get potential leads. Webinars are a great way to interact with potential leads. It gives them a low-commitment entry point to start a relationship with you. Developing content that resonates with your audience is only going to lock in that relationship further. Some hot tips for engaging your webinar audience? Start by asking everyone to type in the chat what city everyone lives to confirm their tech works. This little question is not only a tech-check but allows you to have a talking point to start connecting with attendees. Throughout your presentation, use polls and ask questions to create engagement with your attendees. Make sure to follow up your webinar with an email that includes the opportunity to schedule a 1:1 meeting with you.
Develop content that is of interest to your audience. We love using surveys to measure what is front of mind for our audience. It's a great way to understand what matters most, connect your services' values to their needs, and build a relationship with your audience. We use software like SurveyMonkey to create and distribute surveys, but something as simple as a branded Google Form can do the same thing.
Grow your contacts with your existing network. It might seem like a challenge trying to grow your client list while at home, but your existing client list is the best source. Go through a list of your contacts and reach out to leads that have gone cold in the past. Create a referral program that promotes a month of free services for current clients when they refer friends and family. You can also reach out directly with a list of your services and ask clients if they have family or friends that might be interested. Sometimes it takes that reminder that you offer a variety of services to increase your services with existing clients or add new ones. You can also use some paid digital marketing tactics by targeting friends of friends on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Capture Client Stories. When you make a purchase on Amazon, my guess is that you weigh your buying decision based on customer reviews. Or when searching for a new restaurant to try, you read the Google reviews first, right? Having that social proof from peers is of the utmost importance if a prospect is looking to work with you. Create an outline of questions that will answer your prospects biggest concerns and create a client story that new and current clients can connect with. Reach out to current clients to capture how you have helped them with their financial journeys. You can then use this content to promote your services via social media and email. Having a collection of social proof that your financial services work is going to make your prospects that much more likely to convert.
If you're looking for more tips on presenting a financial plan virtually, check out this blog from Honor, our Enterprise Relationship Manager.
Working From Home
Establish your workspace. Now that this work from home situation is long term, its time to get that desk instead of using your kitchen table. Having parameters within your house where you work and where you go to relax can be crucial. Your brain will start to get used to the fact that your workspace means work, and your couch means its time to relax. Having an established workspace allows me to focus and tune out any undone laundry or distractions.
Set boundaries with your "coworkers". Two-foot tall coworkers with a knack for wearing their snacks on their face, cranky teenagers who are schooling at home, or significant others with to-do lists can make for a lot of distractions to combat. Establishing "office hours" that bar any disruptions puts parameters for a time to focus and switch gears. I imagine this will help with efficiency going into a project with the knowledge that you only have an hour to focus on a task before being away.
Keep things tidy. For me, my bedroom is also my workspace. I find that cleaning up, making the bed, putting clothes in a hamper, etc., help eliminate any reason to pull myself away from my work. I think the same rule applies whether your space is in your living room or even a designated office. Take 20 minutes to tidy up before you sit down for the day and save yourself a headache.
Change up your workspace. I know this is a bit contradictory from my former point, but I think it's important to change things up once in a while. Sit outside on the patio, work on the couch, stand at the counter (if you don't have a stand-up desk). Or break up your workday with a walk, a workout, or weed pulling in the garden. Sometimes the brain needs room to think, or a change in space will help approach a problem differently.
Connect with your coworkers. Often, I miss turning my chair around to talk to other humans and being able to collaborate. My Labrador retriever doesn't bring much to a brainstorming session other than the constant need for belly rubs.
Our team uses Slack and Zoom to keep connected. We talk strategy, day to day tasks, and chat about things unrelated to work. It would be hard to feel part of the team without that connection. Don't be afraid to reach out, ask to get on a call quick, or plan a lunch in a park. Our team has plans to do a socially distant picnic at the park. It's a great way to break up the workday and still feel connected.
Taking Care of Yourself
Get outside. Seriously, while the sun is out and the weather is still nice, breathe in that fresh air. Research shows that 120 minutes per week will help your mental well being. It doesn't even have to be anything that fancy -- sit on a park bench, walk the dog, or have your coffee outside. For us nature folks in Montana, we're soaking in the last of the sunny season before winter hits.
Take some time off. At AdvicePay, we are all about the work-life balance, which we can probably credit to our team happiness score that averages around nine out of 10. Flexible schedules and unlimited PTO allow many opportunities to take care of life's demands. We understand that this isn't the case for everyone, so take a day off where you can even enjoy Netflix or catch up on errands. Research shows that it takes eight days for your brain to relax and genuinely get the most out of a vacation. So take that staycation this fall and get some fresh air while you're at it.
Be kind to yourself. That's the last thing I wanted to share. Making significant adjustments to a lifestyle can be challenging, but hopefully, I've armed you with some great tips to help. Are you interested in what the rest of the team had to say about working from home? Check out our blog of tips and tricks from the entire AdvicePay team.
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Posted by Lena Haines
Lena Haines is the Director of Sales and Marketing at AdvicePay and is widely known for her creative expertise. After graduating from Montana State University in 2012 with a BFA in Fine Arts and focus in Graphic Design, Lena went on to work at a boutique marketing agency. There, she gained her experience in management and implementation of inbound sales and marketing strategies. After seven years, it was time to try something new, producing large-scale corporate events out of Orlando, FL. More recently, humidity and career growth inspired her to make the trek back to Bozeman, joining the AdvicePay team. While sales and marketing functions are her primary focus by day, Lena also enjoys stretching her creative muscles doing improv or hiking with her dog Jasper.