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knowledge selling from home Q&A

Do you have a specialism? I’m a Caribbean Tourism Organisation platinum agent. I did mostly short-haul on the high street, so I do an awful lot of online training and go to training sessions.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a homeworker?

Instead of whingeing about a lost booking, “sumo”– shut up and move on.

The view of Pigeon Island from The Landings, in St Lucia: Ann is a Caribbean Tourism Organisation platinum agent

All’s well on the home front

Bury-based homeworker Ann Barber was a high street agent and shop manager for 30 years before becoming a Travel Counsellor eight years ago. She tells us about her experiences

Why did you become a homeworker? I grew a bit sick of directional selling and my mum, who is now 81, needed more support. Working from home gave me more flexibility. If she needs to get to a medical appointment, I can take her.

What Travel Counsellors training has proved particularly useful?

The networking training was relevant because when you come from the high street, you’re not used to finding your own leads. It’s about going out and using what’s relevant, rather than advertising in glossy magazines that don’t necessarily get you anything. There is also a course on beating the internet, which gives ideas on how to sell yourself, as you are a person, not a machine.

What was the turning point when your business started to take off? I joined Business Networking International (BNI) and other local groups. As soon as I started networking, I increased my bookings. With BNI, each week you have one minute to talk about your specialism and what you’re looking for, and every now and then, you get a 10-minute speech. Members pass referrals on to each other. I had a phonecall just this morning from our insurance broker – a friend of his wants to book a holiday so he has referred them to me.

What is your most lucrative booking? A new client called a few years ago and asked if I could meet him the next day at 6.30pm. It was New Year’s Eve but I agreed. I think he was testing me. I’ve had about £70-80,000 of business from him, mostly mixing business with pleasure. He’ll travel to the Middle East for work then go on some- where such as the Maldives. It just goes to show that a little bit of personal service goes a long way.

What advice would you give to agents coming into homeworking? Don’t expect to make a million in the first six months – and have a financial buffer.

What are your plans for the business? I’d like to expand my knowledge of Asia. I’d particularly like to go to Thailand, as I’ve never been, although I’ve sold it forever. I’d also like to see Australia and New Zealand.

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