If you are going to be a VA, you’ve got to talk about it.
Talking About What You Have to Offer
Once you have decided that becoming a VA is your mission and you sincerely want to pursue this career, it is important to become comfortable with talking about being a VA. Virtual Assistance lends itself to be spoken about. You need to feel free to talk about yourself and your practice. The whole idea is to always have your practice on y our mind and to talk about VAing. You will be able to improve client attraction through conversations with prospects.
Getting people involved in a conversation with you about the benefits of VAing will go a long way in promoting yourself and the benefits that can be gained through a VA partnership. Listen for clues about what a potential client is currently dealing with that is preventing him/her from growing a business. Establish how you can fill this need. Make suggestions about how some of these needs may be handled. What skills and expertise do you have that meets this need?
Know What You Will Bring to The Partnership
Prepare and practice a strong statement about the skills and services you can offer. We all have something unique to offer that sets us apart from everyone else; perhaps it’s your organization, your background or even your personality.
You will use this concept as the base for other parts of your personal marketing efforts.
What Do You Do as a Virtual Assistant?
Here are some suggestions for answering the question, “what do you do?”
It’s Best Not To:
Right Answer Includes:
|Say exactly what you do
|| A solution to clients’ problems
|List a long line of skills and credentials
|| Ways to make more time for the client
|| Suggestions on how to complete a project
|I do anything you need
|| Explain a specialty that you love doing
You will need to create a statement and be comfortable saying it and explaining it. Try accomplishing this in one simple sentence. Here are some ideas to get you started creating your statement:
- What are the problems my prospective client faces?
- What administrative needs would this prospect give anything to delegate?
- What beneficial outcome does my client get from the service I provide?
Basics for creating powerful statements:
- Use plain English, without technical jargon
- Tell what you do and who you do it for
- Provide a solution to your clients’ needs
It could be something like:
“I provide entrepreneurs time in the form of services which allows them more time to increase their business and to focus on the things they really love to do. I create a relationship with people who have more things to do than time.”
Personal Statement WorksheetPrepare a statement to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself” that will take approximately two minutes or less to say.
Start with a Beginning: (experiences – overall/recent – maximum of three sentences)
Second, create a transition statement highlighting your strengths (maximum of two sentences)
Finally tell about your current situation (your present situation)
Again, practice this statement until it flows naturally when spoken.
TIP: Re-read this portion several times and return to re-visit each time you are about to interview your next potential client.
- People can detect an apparent sales pitch and tend to shy away from the whole confrontation. The best way to dispel this illusion is to relax.
- Take a sincere interest in learning about the other person and enjoy learning about that person.
- Look at meetings you attend as a fun occasion; one in which you will meet a new friend.
- You will want to learn about the needs of the other person. Remember to listen to the person and not go overboard with explanations about VAing.
- It is best to not view the conversation as a sale, but rather the beginning of a possible partnership. The sale should come to you. It’s okay to suggest that perhaps a VA partnership might be just what this person is looking for to satisfy those needs discussed.
- If a person wants to learn more about what you can do for him/her, the conversation will come around to it.
- Show confidence in yourself and extend that confidence to your contact that VAing works and that being a VA is comfortable and right for you.
- Make a list of the things you will not do and do not compromise your Virtual Assistant venture by agreeing to tasks that are not fun for you. Do not accept projects that you cannot handle or are uncomfortable with or you do not have the knowledge or resources for. Be honest with yourself and your potential client.
On your worksheet, list the things you WILL NOT DO.
Now, look at the statement you wrote earlier – is it still a good statement?
It’s okay to have several versions – maybe you need a different version for each potential client.
Remember: Be sure to PRACTICE your statement!
What is the Description of Your Service?
What Do You Do? Prepare Your Statements
Work on answering this question in one sentence. It is an effective method of increasing business and identifying what you do literally on the spot. It will help communicate what you do in easy to understand terms.
Just think if you could say with just a few words, one sentence or a few sentences that were so powerful people would understand your services and want to “buy” on the spot. Imagine someone you just said these few words to talking about you in their next conversation only to find out that person could use your services. Good planning and practicing will make these statements become your identification, your recognition point and your ‘brand’.
Create statements that tell people what results they can expect when working with you. With these points, potential customers can identify you as the answer to their prayers. You can help solve a problem; you can support them or fill a need. You want them to respond with, “I can identify with that,” “I need that,” or “tell me more about that, and what you do,” or “Who couldn’t use that?!”
- Don’t make the mistake of using a label or a long-winded explanation to educate people about what you do.
- Have a few statements that are so simple that people will remember and will easily repeat.
- During your first months in business it is important to deliver a very consistent message over time to educate and inform people.
- Watch out for promises that make people skeptical.
- Creating a slogan or a tag line is different than creating your statement. You don’t want a catchy slogan, but you want a solid statement of the outcomes a person can expect when partnering with you.
- It is a lot easier to under promise and over deliver. People are more likely to be WoW‘d and you want to create a need for them to come back to you for more of the same!
Describing Your Services
Write out the results that people can expect to achieve by partnering with you. Do not focus on how you achieve results for your clients; just tell them how they will benefit. Think of it in terms of their needs. Clients or potential clients most likely don’t want to hear all of the steps you went through to get to the results. Ask yourself, what do they need where I can provide a solution?
Write down 10 “results” of your services, and then practice saying:
“I work with people who ___________” or “I work with companies that want __________.”
When you narrow it down to a few statements, start trying them out on people and see how they respond. You will know which one is working when people respond positively.
- I work with business people who need more time in their lives so that they can focus on their business and what they love to do.
- I work with successful entrepreneurs who are ready to delegate tasks so that they may effect significant change in their business.
- I provide time and ideas for self-employed professionals and sole practitioners.
- I partner with you, the professional, so you can overcome obstacles between you and your business goals by handling the tasks that are taking too much of your time.
Note: You will most likely know right away when someone you are explaining your services to “gets it.” In other words, they understand the concept. We have found that if someone does not show the sign of understanding the concept, that it is best to move on to the next person and not try to force the VA concept on that person.
Create a 30 Second Introduction
Today’s communication is greatly influenced by the media; short and fast clips. Think about how many different subjects you are exposed to every day or even in just one hour! It’s amazing. To keep an audience interested, even an audience of one, we must think brief and to the point.
Three Simple Steps
- Give them your name. Say your name slowly and clearly. Next, give them your “MIP,” your most impressive benefit. Then tell them what you do.
- Restate what you do and the benefits of partnering with you, using different words. By repeating, you are telling the person what is important for them to remember. By repeating your key points, your contacts will remember you.
- End your 30-second talk with a memory tag; what people will remember after they walk away. Make it visual and make it unique. Make creating your memory tag fun.
“Hi, my name is Mary Smith. I help business owners gain resources in the form of time to focus on their business goals.”
“I am a Virtual Assistant. I work one to one with entrepreneurs, self-employed professionals and small business owners. I help them take their professional careers to the next level by providing more time in their lives. When I partner with someone, that person is number one.”
TIP: Show a potential client you are serious about working with him/her by doing two things – send him a list of questions via email and ask for a 30 minute telephone conversation. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interview you!!!!
Prepare a List of Questions for Prospective Clients
Preparation of a few questions will help with initial contacts, impromptu calls you may receive from potential clients and when you are getting serious about a VA partnership with a prospective client.
Suggested Questions for Prospective Clients
Try some of these questions to maintain momentum in a conversation about a prospective client’s needs versus your abilities.
- What is the biggest challenge you have in growing your business?
- What opportunities are you missing by using your time to handle administrative tasks?
- What do you do each day or each week that your dread doing?
- What are you wasting your time with?
- Have you considered doing it this way…?
- Could you delegate that?
- Will you listen to ideas and try new things?
- Are you willing to delegate?
- If I were there right now, what would I be doing for you?
Questions for an Interested Prospect
Here are some questions for clients whose interest in partnering with a VA is established. It is important that clients are successful at what they do.
- What is the biggest change you expect when partnering with a VA?
- What are you expecting from me?
- What are you expecting to happen because you now have a VA?
- What is it that you want our partnership to focus on primarily?
- For you, what do you see as the most exciting part about working with a VA?
- For you, what is the scariest part about working with a VA?
- Are you willing to communicate via email and telephone on a regular basis?
- What is the most helpful thing I can do for you?
- Are you willing to listen to ideas and suggestions with an open mind?
What Should You Do After the Interview with an Interested Prospect
This is an exercise that will help you understand how you were perceived, what you need to change and how you can make the next client interview better. It would be a good idea to keep copies of this page and use it as a worksheet. This is for your information only.
- What looks exciting about the prospect of working with this person?
- How did you feel right after talking with this person?
- What do you think this potential client thought of you?
- Did you hear any pauses from the potential client that indicated more questions or reservations in partnering with you?
- What could you have done better to present yourself as the professional VA you are?
- Are there other questions that need to be cleared up before going into a partnership with this person?
- Is this the type of person/business with whom you would like a long term relationship?
- Now forget about the interview for a day or two and then pick this page up again and review your initial thoughts.
Do You Fit What This Prospective Clients Needs?
Make two columns on your worksheet – on the left side put:
What Is This Person Looking For?
On the right side put:
What Can I Offer?
What Is This Person Looking For? What Can I Offer?
Helping Others Understand the VA Concept
The language of VAing is still Greek to many people. We need to be patient and help people to understand the VA concept…saying it straight, eliminating unnecessary jargon and being heard crystal clear. Sharing the language of VAing with your prospects and clients gives them and the VA process the gifts of meaning and structure.
Design Your Own Flyer, Brochure or Postcard – if you’ve already designed one, get it out and reconsider what you’ve designed.
Ask several people to explain back to you what they think VAing is based on your description, your flyer, your brochure and your postcard. Have them look at your web site and ask them if they understand what you are doing. If they do not, you will need to create a clearer view of being a Virtual Assistant.
Help to Understand What VAing is About?
- A professional providing services to another professional
- Obtaining results and making your client amore productive
- Increasing the bottom line for you and your client
- Moving the client’s business forward (their objectives become your objectives)
- Developing strengths and skills
- Making your client look and feel good
- Being proactive
How Do VA s Help Clients?
- Focus their energies on their core business
- Encourage delegation
- By giving technical support
- By being a sounding board
- By providing ideas
- By bringing another set of skills into their business
- Create strategies
- Work out a time line for projects
Remember, this is a partnership – a two-way street. You should expect to be treated as an important part of your client’s business.
- Response to requests
- Fair compensation paid on time
- Understand that being a VA is an independent business
- Enthusiasm about the partnership
- A successful, professional, business person
Always observe your surroundings and find places to share your story.
Work on the many ways to put yourself in front of your prospects by getting out and getting noticed. If you start now, you can more than quadruple the number of people who are aware of your services in less than a year. Begin thinking “out of the box” about how to and where to share your story. There is much value in speaking in public, joining groups and establishing a contact data base, and, of course, use social media.
Send a Warm Letter
Send a letter out to contacts that you already know. Follow up in one week with a phone call and invite people to join you for a conversation about your services. Below are two sample letter ideas. Once you have been in practice a few months, write an ‘update letter’ of how your practice has grown or new services that you provide.
It’s best to put these letters together using your own words so that you can verbally give a feel of your personality. A big key to a successful VA partnership is a good rapport. Good rapport begins by understanding each others personality. I’ve only provided ideas here. You need to fill in the blanks. These people want to know you, not me!!
Warm Letter Example #1
Paragraph 1: Explain why you are sending the letter. I am sending you this letter….. Why are you qualified? What skills and background do you think enabled you to begin a VA practice?
Paragraph 2: What is VAing? How does a VA help or assist clients? How will it help a client, his/her business and/or life? How does your partnership work? How do you get tasks assigned to you? What makes a good partnership. Is it temporary or ongoing? How else can a VA help? Maybe by listening, giving ideas and referrals.
Paragraph 3: My specialties include:
- Internet research
- Maintaining large databases
- Creating presentations
- Promoting business via the Internet
- Scheduling teleseminars
- Creating E-books
Paragraph 4: Why are you writing this letter? (Obviously to see if this person knows someone or if this person, perhaps, would benefit from a VA partnership). What do you want to happen if the person knows someone? Feel free to call with questions. I can be reached at (720) 230-2120.
Warm Letter Example #2
Paragraph #1: Why are you sending the letter? What are you doing currently? Where are you in building your practice? Don’t share how many clients you currently have, but maybe tell them you are expanding your practice with the types of people/businesses you would like to attract. Ask for this person’s support in developing your practice.
Paragraph #2: What is Virtual Assistance? How long has it been a business? Are you a professional? What kind of relationship is this? What kind of support do you provide? This is a good place to explain that a VA doesn’t need to be physically there.
Paragraph #3: What kind of businesses make good partnerships? And why? VAs can provide administrative support because … they have unique set of skills, are specifically skilled in administrative support. What does a client gain by partnering with a VA? Business owners don’t have to have physical space for a VA to work in, equipment for a VA to use, or deal with payroll, or taxes or benefits. All the benefits and none of the hassle! What could be better?
Paragraph #4: Explain the dynamics of communication via phone, email and fax and why this can be a powerful relationship. Working with a VA is a great way for a successful individual to: (add your own creative ideas here)
- Have more time to focus on the things that really need his/her attention.
- Delegate, rather than tolerate the things he/she just can’t seem to get to or would prefer to have someone else handle.
- Make better decisions because he/she has a partner to work closely with, to bounce ideas off of, and someone who genuinely believes that the success of his/her business is win/win for both.
- By partnering with a VA, a successful individual will give away some of the things which really don’t need to be handled by him/her. In the process, space is created to focus on growing/improving businesses, marketing, and developing relationships.
Paragraph #5: What do your clients do? This is a good place to say that you like to work with successful professionals. Ask for a referral here. I appreciate my current clients, colleagues, and friends to recognize a good “match” and make mutually beneficial referrals.
Paragraph #6: Some things that I do as a VA are: (Tell what you do here)
- Provide office support – email, snail mail, make/return calls, send/receive faxes, schedule appointments, etc.
- Research – both traditional and internet.
- Plan meetings, find professional speakers.
- Arrange speaking engagements
- Work with vendors, set up accounts, and establish a relationship with them for my client.
- Technical work — databases, spreadsheets, presentations, charting, provide software support, etc.
Paragraph #7: Is there anything else you would do, like personal mailings, card writings, gift purchasing? Will you investigate a good real estate agent for your client? Think about daily tasks that could be delegated.
Paragraph #8: Explain that you understand that VAing is a new concept and that reading about Virtual Assistance doesn’t always fully express the depth of what can be accomplished with the support of a masterfully skilled VA. What do you want to happen? Probably an opportunity to speak with the recipient of this letter, right? This way, you can answer this person’s questions. I’ll call you next week to schedule a time to talk.
First and foremost, talk about what you are doing with everyone...practice your short introduction. Don’t forget to mention past employers and people you have worked for.
- Internet – visit various VA websites and post your information and join discussion groups. Review the section: Suggestions for Beginning Your Business. Be sure to have your own web site and exchange links with other VAs or sites that accept reciprocal links and that are closing related to either helping entrepreneurs, creating successful businesses, and Virtual Assistant Directories.
- Post your resume on the Internet classifieds and VA organizational sites. Also, occasionally, you can place your information on employment sites
- You or a prospect invites the other to sit down and talk or have a teleconference about VAing. This is a great approach for you to select your ideal client and invite them to partner with you.
- When you know your niche, find someone living in that niche. Find out what their needs are and how they could best benefit from a VA partnership. You may just be what they are looking for or have a referral for you.
- Mutual discovery during a meeting with the members of networking or business group you belong to. Here is the place to practice your message.
- When making orders for anything, be sure to include your title as part of the ship to address. I recently attracted a client when ordering wine!
- Attract attention by adding value to every business and personal relationship you have. Give a little extra.
- Become VERY active on your FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts – tell everyone you know what you are doing and ask for referrals.
Ready, Set, Contact…Starting Today!
Starting now, work down this list and pick three items to start experimenting with immediately. As you experiment, rate the results of each. Try each one at least once. Keep trying new items. With this exercise, you will discover the contact methods you are most comfortable with and the methods most likely to be successful for you. We all have a comfort zone when selling ourselves. See what works for you. Now go back to the items you rated highest and repeat. Be sure to adjust each method as you see fit. Remember, the more comfortable and relaxed you are, the more success you will have attracting the clients you prefer.
- Take on a leadership role in a local organization.
- Write in publications for groups you belong to.
- Speak to the groups you belong to.
- Deliver the same consistent message making only slight variations to make it better.
- Start your contact database. Ask for emails and don’t forget to get permission to send newsletters or updates about your practice. Be sure to add their email addresses.
- Check for service and business groups in your area. These can be found in: The phone book and at the library (a librarian can help)
- Online (check out the search engines at c4.com and www.askjeeves.com)
- The National Trade and Professional Association (annual report) Columbia Books. 1.888.265.0600
- Any handouts you use, include your name and contact information. Introduce yourself to two new people this week.
- Write a paragraph about your practice that might appear in the newspaper.
- Visit a new club or organization you might consider joining.
- Set a coffee meeting with one person to learn about what they do.
- Compose a Warm Letter you would enjoy receiving from someone else.
- Ask three people to email you with what they find unique about you and how their lives would be different were you not in it.
- Join a Toastmaster’s club to improve your communications skills.
- Take a computer software class to update a skill.
- Write an issue of an email newsletter you might send out. (Examples)
- Send a personal note to three people you haven’t talked to in a while.
- Write out what you might say if you were introducing yourself at a party.
- Contact two professional groups and determine when they meet.
- Send a mailing (letter or brochure) to 10 new people every week.
- Write another issue of your email newsletter.
- Join a professional organization or volunteer group.
- Practice your 30-second introduction. Refer to the Describing Your Services section.
- Set two meetings this week with potential referral partners.
- Send email follow-ups to all contacts made in the last month. Don’t forget to include your business signature line.
- Send your database of contacts a sample issue of your free newsletter and invite them to subscribe.
- Locate several service groups and find out if they use outside speakers.
- Introduce yourself in front of a group using your 30-second message.
- Ask an associate or friend for a referral.
- Contact three service organizations about speaking to their group.
- Outline a course or teleclass you could teach.
- Partner with another professional and brainstorm how you could work together.
- Join a Virtual Assistant Team Group
Position Yourself as A VA
You Are the Product: You already have the major attributes: background, education, experience, and knowledge. Concentrate on transforming these assets to satisfy the expectations of your clients.
Appear to be the Part: You must be visually harmonious with the expectations of your market. When you present yourself as if you are at the top of your profession, people will assume you are and it will enhance the rest of what they learn about you.
Develop Rapport: Your ability to identify with your prospects and clients is important to your success. Creating a rapport is creating a relation with a common connection. People like people who like them.
Package Yourself for the Part
Think of packaging as the wrapper of a product. It doesn’t seem that important, we just tear it off and throw it away. However, think about how the packaging influences your decision to purchase a product.
If you consider yourself as the product:
- What does the wrapper tell your prospects?
- What does your brochure, business card and website say about the quality of you (the product)?
- What does your email say about you (the product)?
What message are you broadcasting? The message you send whether written, by sight or sound, or even through nonverbal methods determines the ease in which you attract clients and maintain a complete practice. Important keys to great packaging is consistency and professionalism. Always present yourself in the same way. Your business cards, brochure, Internet presence, even your 30 Second Introductions should all speak the same message and make the same point.
If you hate the idea of selling yourself and want to avoid the expense of advertising, then pull marketing is for you. The concept is to draw people and opportunities to you. Pull marketing is based on three concepts:
- Planting ideas in peoples’ minds about what you do
- Adding value, and
- Telling not selling your services
The first step is to plant ideas in the mind of your prospect; what you do; why you’re considered the best in your field; and why the prospect should consider making their life better by working with you. Just share subtle hints.
Whenever you communicate with someone, whether it be by phone, in person, by mail or email, be sure to include something relative to being a VA. Even when you are making an order for products, include your email address, your web site address and include that you are a VA. People are very curious about it. It creates dialog.
Add value to every key relationship in your life. Do things beyond everyone’s expectations, but do them in ways that are inexpensive to you or in ways that cost you nothing. For instance, when you add value, make your clients feel like there’s no one better to do business with than you. WoW! them. In your personal life, add value to people close to you, or those you would like to have close to you, make them glad they are near you and keep them interested in staying close. It’s a win/win situation all the way around.
The third component of pull marketing is to tell people about you and your business, and do not try to sell yourself or your business. The way to pull customers to you is to educate your potential clients about what you do. Give them the opportunity to want more information and to ask questions.
From Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee on networking:
I am listening to a wonderful book on tape by Faith Popcorn entitled “Evolution: The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women.” Fascinating book.
If you want to know how to tap into the female market you will want to read this book. One of the concepts that Popcorn mentions is cross-pollination. This is something that women excel at and it is often misunderstood. To an outsider it may sound like idle chatter or even gossip, but to women it is about connection and sharing ideas.
Women love to share ideas and connect. What is known as networking today is something women have been doing for years. For women connection and relationships are vital.
My husband recently joined my business and after being in the office for a few months he commented on how much I go out to lunch. He is right, I do. And I find this to be one of the most important things I do to keep connected to my network and stay in touch with what is going on out in the world. My recent lunch trips have produced leads for business, an introduction to a great new restaurant, a lead on a store that sells vintage clothing, and a great idea for a program I am developing. Doing lunch (women tend to “do lunch”) is valuable to me because it gives me time to connect, share ideas, and tends to my relationships. It does take time, but I have found it to be most worthwhile.
The good news is that cross-pollination isn’t just for women. Women and men can benefit from sharing ideas. Letting others know what we are doing and finding out what is new with them is a way to expand our own experiences and discover new and interesting ideas and concepts. It helps to keep things fresh and exciting. It makes life easier.
Seek out ways to cross-pollinate with the people in your life. Perhaps it is sharing a lead to a new job, or a great new health food store, or your favorite flavor of ice cream. Other people might enjoy the things you enjoy and you will be supporting them in expanding their world. In return, they will share their ideas and their “finds” with you. You will become known as a resource in your network and people will seek you out for ideas and suggestions, and they will want to share information with you.
In today’s world, it is impossible to have the answers to every question. What becomes valuable is the person who knows how to find the answers. The cross-pollinator will be the person who will have a network that they can use to find answers, seek out new opportunities, and connect with other people.
Ways to cross-pollinate:
– Share articles with people that you think would find the articles helpful.
– Start a book club, a networking group, or a lunch club that meets every so often and shares ideas.
– Attend meetings of groups that are outside your normal circles of friends and associates. Find out what other people are doing.
– Talk to people that you meet in elevators, lines at grocery stores, or on the bus. You never know whom you will meet and what you will discover.
– Create a newsletter for clients, customers, and friends that provides information about you and your services.
A great cross-pollinator was Mary Parker Follett (1868 – 1933). “A basic principle of life and research for her was that every human interaction, from the seemingly most common and insignificant to the most profound, should be cultivated for its potential learning and creativity. Therefore, she talked to people everywhere, bus conductors, maids, factory workers, anyone whose experience could provide insight into the nature of the social process”
(Leadership, Vol. V. No. 2 Winter, 1994-94, http://www.spst.edu/Leadership/winter94.htm).
Daily Success Formula: Sharing + Creativity + Openness to learning = Cross-Pollination
“Respect for people is the cornerstone of communication and networking in the nineties.” Susan RoAne
You can visit Coach Lee’s web site at http://www.coachlee.com This particular quote came from her ezine, “365 Days of Coaching.” This is a great daily ezine with reminders and tips about life and how to live the life you want.