Ready to Take Your Business to the Next Level?
Virtual Administrative Support Services

Ready to Take Your Business to the Next Level?

Let’s face it, being in business is hard. In fact, you won’t work harder than you will work for yourself. And once your business starts growing, it gets harder and harder.

So the question most business owners have is, “if I am already struggling to keep up, how will I ever manage this if my business doubles, triples?”

The answer is delegation. Knowing when and what to let go is an essential skill in building a business.

Not sure where to start? Here is a radio interview I recently did that explains in a little more depth how a virtual assistant can make a difference in your business.

Give it a listen, and if you have further questions drop me an email. I’d love to talk to you about how I can help you take it “to the next level.”

125 Tasks a Virtual Assistant Could do for You

Close up of the hands of a man buried under a pile of bills and paperwork. There is a past due bill in the foreground. There is a clipping path.

If you are a small business owner, then you know what it means to be overwhelmed. If fact, you may be so overwhelmed that you are getting in your own way. What do I mean by that? Easy, you are busy working IN your business instead of ON your business. Administrative tasks so consume you, tasks that have nothing to do with generating revenue and serving your customers/clients, that you are not growing your business. That can be a deadly situation for a small business owner.

If this describes you, then it is time for you to make an investment in your business. It is time for you to get some help. It is time for some a virtual assistant.

You may be wondering what you could delegate to a virtual assistant. I’m glad you asked! Below is a list of 125 tasks you could delegate to a virtual assistant. Take a close look at this list and I am willing to bet that you can find something you currently are doing that you could delegate.

​Keep in mind; this is not an all-inclusive list. Working with a virtual assistant depends on what your needs are. A good virtual assistant can adapt to your business and perform tasks you need in a way you require

​Administrative Support

1. Managing calendar/schedule

2. Building or managing databases (of contacts, for example)

3. Booking appointments and calls

4. Making travel arrangements

5. Monitoring voicemail

6. File management (in Google Drive , Dropbox, etc.)

7. Data entry

8. Creating reports

9. Generating forms

10. Preparing slideshows

11. PDF conversions

12. PDF merging or splitting (Google docs or other platforms)

13. Drafting letters, emails, etc.

14. Preparing agendas

15. Sending cards/gifts (for holidays, thank you’s, milestone events, etc.)

16. Setting up spreadsheets

17. Writing speeches

18. Drafting presentation slides

​Customer Service

19. Processing orders

20. Processing refunds

21. Handling customer inquiries

22. Operating live chat

23. Following up on orders, inquiries, etc.

24. Updating member records

25. Inviting/approving requests to join a membership community

Content Production​

26. Sourcing photos

27. Editing photos (including adding text).

28. Formatting posts to be published

29. Augmenting posts with social share options (such as Click toTweet)

30. Adding internal links to posts

31. Adding affiliate links to posts

32. Editing posts

33. Scheduling posts

34. Coordinating with contributors

35. Managing an editorial calendar

36. Topic idea generation

37. Drafting content

38. Topic research

39. Compiling, formatting, and/or uploading e-books

40. Keyword research

Social Media​

41. Promoting new posts across social media

42. Promoting old posts across social media

43. Promoting posts of others across social media

44. Creating unique updates

45. Sharing images/graphics/videos

46. Replying to mentions/messages/comments on social media

47. Designing banners, headers and backgrounds

48. Setting up new pages, accounts, groups, etc.

49. Growing social media followings

50. Uploading Slideshare presentations

Blog/Website Management​

51. Moderating blog comments

52. Updating plugins

53. Repairing/updating broken links

54. Answering comments

55. Making SEO improvements (headlines, page titles, content, images, etc.)

56. Setting up 301 redirects

57. Tracking 404 errors (via a plugin)

58. Reporting trends in blog activity, such as hot topics or comment activity

59. Removing unwanted pages and posts

​E-mail (Inbox) Management

60. Replying to common questions

61. Flagging important messages needing a reply

62. Following up on outgoing emails

63. Deleting spam

64. Unsubscribing from unwanted promotional lists

65. Tagging and archiving emails

66. Forwarding messages and inquiries to other team members

67. Using email plugins to optimize

68. Drafting responses

​Finance

69. Creating invoice templates

70. Sending invoices

71. Processing payments

72. Managing affiliate payments

73. Updating a profit and loss statement

74. Bookkeeping

​E-Mail Marketing

75. Scheduling email campaigns

76. Designing email templates

77. Setting up autoresponders

78. Managing the newsletter

79. Email list segmentation

80. Scrubbing email lists

81. Editing emails

Outreach​

82. Leaving comments on other blogs

83. Contacting VIPs, potential partners and others on behalf of the client

84. Participating in relevant groups or forums

85. Reaching out to advertisers for ads or sponsored posts

86. Finding guest post opportunities

87. Lead generation

88. Setting up interviews

Marketing​

89. Setting up webinars

90. Providing tech support during webinars

91. Overseeing sales funnels

92. Setting up/managing paid traffic ads

93. Creating newsletters and autoresponder sequences

Audio/Video Production​

94. Write scripts

95. Produce content (such as intro/outros, illustrations, etc.)

96. Scrub and edit content

97. Upload videos to hosting platform (such as YouTube or Wistia)

98. SEO optimization (YouTube, etc.)

99. Upload audio to hosting platforms (such as iTunes)

100. Image editing (basic) for each audio or video piece

101. Inserting audio or video files on blog or website

102. Sharing audio or video files across platforms

103. Audio or video transcription

104. Coordinating interviews

105. Providing background on podcast guests

Website Maintenance​

106. Making security updates

107. Managing backups

108. Setting up new sites

109. Adding new pages

110. Customizing themes

111. Installing plugins

112. Setting up integrations (with social media, mailing lists, etc.)

113. Setting up and integrating a shop page and/or payment gateway

114. Creating a custom favicon

115. Making and installing a custom 404 page

Miscellaneous​

116. Virtual event support

117. Setting up integrations

118. Creating landing pages, splash pages, optin forms, etc.

119. Keyword ranking reports

120. Analytics reports

121. Graphic design

122. Infographic design

123. Setting up affiliate programs

124. Monitoring online reviews

125. Monitoring industry news

This list should have given you lots to think about. There are so many tasks that can be done by a virtual assistant; it just depends on you.

Many thanks to Gina Horkey of HorkeyHandbook for this list. I hope it opens your eyes to what a virtual assistant could do for you.

If you are considering using a virtual assistant, please give me a call. The best place to start the process is to talk. Discussing what your major obstacles are will help me determine how I can best guide you to delegate tasks.

Not sure you want to trust a virtual assistant with your business? See my post on Trusting a Virtual Assistant.

Now, are you ready to invest in your business and push it to the next level? Give me a shout!

5 Questions To Assure Your Database Management is Right for You

CRM word cloud

When you are in business, a primary focus is finding people that are interested in your products or services. You spend an inordinate amount of time networking, going to meetings, having one-on-ones, sending emails, newsletters, and using social media. You gather business cards like precious trinkets of gold, hoping one of them will turn into a client. If you are like most people, these critical pieces of information end up in a big pile on your desk. Then when you need to contact someone, you shuffle through these cards, praying you find the right one.

I think there is a better way that will make you more productive in handling your database I will outline how to choose a system that will help you grow your business.

You need a database system

Most business owners know they need a management system to handle all these names, phone numbers and email addresses. There is a huge selection of options available for this task. Many of them free and many of them paid.

The options can be as simple as entering everything into an Excel spreadsheet or as complex as using a CRM (customer relationship management) system such as Infusionsoft or Salesforce. So the real question is: what is right for you and your business?

It’s not an easy question to answer. You can spend a tremendous amount of money on a database management system, or you can pay nothing. Let’s explore five of the major questions you should ask yourself before you decide how to handle all your contacts.

Five considerations when choosing a CRM

The first consideration you should have is the budget. Although this is a major component of how you will choose which system will handle all your contacts, you need to take budget into consideration along with the other four key factors we will discuss below.

If you decide to consider some of the paid systems (like Infusionsoft or Salesforce) from the start, make sure you are aware of other added costs that may occur. These costs could be sign up fees, system integration, software customization, integration for ipads, training, etc.

The second vital factor you need to consider is what your business objectives are by using a CRM system. Are you just going to email or send an occasional newsletter to these contacts? Maybe you sell a product or service that is downloadable. Delivering a product can be managed through the more sophisticated systems, and they can integrate a shopping cart, etc. Another consideration will be if you use a drip marketing campaign (when you send scheduled emails to your contacts to entice them with offers), or if you use the system to only store names, phone numbers and addresses simply. Maybe you have an online course where you release the modules on a scheduled basis, say one module a week. The more robust the system, the more bells and whistles you get, the more expensive it will be.

You will also need to keep an eye on your long term goals. Say you do sell an online course, but right now you only have two or three students. Your long term goals are to have hundreds of students taking your course. If you begin using a simple, free CRM system, you will need to migrate to a more sophisticated system as your business grows.

Third, you will consider if you want your system cloud-based or if you want it on-site. There are pros and cons for each side. Cloud-based or a Saas (software as a service) system will give you immediate access and will not cause you to buy support-intensive technologies (like servers, etc.). However, some businesses are reluctant to turn over the running and management of such a critical system to a third party. Be sure to do your research into any company you are considering for their availability, downtimes, etc.

Forth you will consider the scalability of your system. Ask yourself if you can start your CRM out small and grow it as your business gets bigger. Once you decide on a long term solution to your needs, you do not want to be forced to migrate to another system. That can be a lengthy and costly process, and never goes as planned. You also need to consider who is going to be using the system. What training will your staff need? How much will it cost?

Finally, you will consider the reputation of your intended provider. If you are considering investing in a paid system, be sure to do your research. Investigate, ask to talk to customers, read articles, Google and follow up on everything before you make a decision. Ask questions and be satisfied with the answers before you lay down your money. Deciding on a CRM is a critical decision and making the wrong one can be very costly.

Make the decision that works for you

CRM systems run the gamut between the large, expensive, all-encompassing ones like Infusionsoft and Salesforce. They can also be smaller such as an Excel spreadsheet. Systems like MailChimp allow its use free until you reach a mail list on 2,000. AWeber is very inexpensive and can set up autoresponders. Even using your Gmail contacts database or your Outlook database can start the process. These type of system will not include product delivery, drip campaigns, or other marketing tools.

Keep an eye on what you are using the system for to make the right choice for you and your business. Whichever way you go, make sure you use it consistently. Keep your contacts up to date, input all new contacts immediately.

If you have fallen behind on keeping up your database or haven’t set up a database yet, give me a call. I can help you get started, input the information, and get you started using it to grow your business.

What CRM do you use? Is it effective?

4 Steps to Better Email Management

Are You Lost In the Inbox?

In this day and age of instant contact and immediate response, email management has become an issue for anyone that has an email address. Wow, doesn’t that encompass most everyone?

Image-8 of blog on virtual administrative assistant

Let’s face it, if you are an entrepreneur, you can live and die by your email. You want to be as responsive to your customers and prospects as possible. That sets the stage for how you will treat them and what they can expect from you. However, you may be doing yourself a dis-service.

How many times a day to you pick up your phone and check your email? How many times a day do you log in and make sure you don’t have any unopened email? Just think of an average. I bet if you kept count, it would be well over thirty times in a 10-hour period. Don’t believe me, try it.

The next question is, do you respond, or act upon, each of the emails that come in the first time you see it? My guess is no, you don’t. If you see a newsletter from a prospect, you probably leave it in your inbox to read later. Or if you see a notification from a social media site, you might look at it, determine if it needs action, then move on. Personal email probably just gets skipped over until you have time to read them. Does any of this sound familiar?

The problem here is that when you get back to these emails, you are overwhelmed by the volume and quickly move through them, answer the most important ones, and promise to deal with the rest later. Only later never comes and many times important emails get lost in the crowd. One day you look at your email inbox, and you may have thousands of emails sitting there. Now you are discouraged, frustrated, and mad. What you need is email management.

So what is the answer? Very simple. You need to organize your inbox, enforce some discipline, and stick to a schedule. Let me tell you how.

4 Steps to Email Management

Most people get the same types of emails every day. Take a look at what you get and see if there is some logical categorization. For instance, you may see a lot of customer emails that need attention, many newsletters, and a few that are personal correspondence. Other emails would include ads, updates for software or apps you use, and plain old spam.

Here are four steps to deal with the overstuffed inbox.

  1. Set several times a day that you will check email. Believe it or not; people do not expect you to respond to them immediately. If they did, they would text or call you. So how often should you check your inbox? It depends on several factors, but not more than four times a day. Say 8 AM, 10 AM, 1 PM and 5 PM should do it.
  2. Set up a couple of folders in your inbox. You might have an immediate folder, a social media folder, a personal folder, and a read later folder.
  3. When you check your inbox on the predetermined schedule, sort the items in your inbox to the appropriate folder.
  4. Address the emails that went into the immediate folder. You can get back to the other folders in the evening, or on the weekends.

Have the self-discipline to stick to your schedule. After a week or two, you will find that you are not overwhelmed and discouraged by the number of items in your inbox.

If you need help in organizing and sorting your email inbox, I can help you get started. By reviewing your inbox, I can help you determine the type of folders you need and how often to check your email. I can even do the sorting for you to get you started. You can drop me a line here if you want help.

By having your inbox organized it allows you to be less distracted and more focused on what you do best, growing your business.

Give this a try and see how it works. Let me know if it helps.

Infographic on Virtual Assistant

Ever wonder exactly how a Virtual Assistant could help your business? Here is a cool infographic that describes what a VA does, and how you can reap the benefits of their help.

Let me know what you think.​

Work Smart and Grow Your Business

Woman in glasses using laptop computer

As a business owner, you have to work smart. There is no gray area here, it's do or die.

You have heard about virtual assistance, right? A person, not located where you are, helping you with your business. Here is a good infographic to see what a VA is and how they work.

Maybe your question is exactly what can a VA do for you? Here is a list of 99 things a VA can do for your business.

    Image-1 of blog on virtual administrative assistant

    1. Manage your calendar and/or schedule
    2. Build or manage contacts database
    3. Book appointments and/or calls
    4. Make travel arrangements
    5. Monitor voicemail
    6. Return voicemails in timely manner
    7. File management and organization (Google Drive, Dropbox, Cubby, Tresoit, etc.)
    8. Data entry
    9. Generate forms (customer intake forms, sales contact forms, etc.)
    10. Prepare PowerPoint presentations
    11. PDF conversions from other software
    12. PDF merging or splitting
    13. Draft letters, emails, etc.
    14. Prepare agendas
    15. Prepare collateral material
    16. Send cards, gifts (birthday, holidays, etc.)
    17. Set up spreadsheets
    18. Data entry into spreadsheets
    19. Draft speeches
    20. Draft presentation slides
    21. Process orders
    22. Process refunds
    23. Handle customer inquires
    24. Operate live chat
    25. Follow up on orders, inquires, etc.
    26. Update customer/member records
    27. Invite/approve requests to join community
    28. Source photos
    29. Format posts to be published
    30. Augment posts with social sharing options
    31. Adding internal links to posts
    32. Adding affiliate links to posts
    33. Editing posts
    34. Scheduling posts
    35. Coordination with contributors
    36. Manage editorial calendar
    37. Topic idea generations
    38. Drafting content
    39. Topic research
    40. Compiling, formatting and uploading ebooks
    41. Keyword research
    42. Promoting new posts across social media
    43. Promoting old posts across social media
    44. Promoting posts of others across social media
    45. Creating unique updates
    46. Sharing images/graphics/videos
    47. Replying to mentions/messages/comments on social media
    48. Setting up new pages, accounts, groups, etc.
    49. Growing social media followings
    50. Uploading Slideshare presentaions
    51. Moderating blog comments
    52. Updating plugins
    53. Repairing/updating broken links
    54. Answering comments
    55. Making SEO improvements
    56. Reporting trends in blog activity
    57. Removing unwanted pages and posts
    58. Inbox organization
    59. Replying to common questions
    60. Flagging important messages needing personal attention
    61. Deleting spam
    62. Unsubscribing from unwanted promotional lists
    63. Tagging and archiving emails
    64. Forwarding message and inquiries to other team members
    65. Using email plugins to optimize
    66. Drafting reponses
    67. Creating invoices
    68. Sending invoices
    69. Processing payments
    70. Managing affiliate payments
    71. Update bookkeeping
    72. Follow-up on non-payments
    73. Pay vendors
    74. Produce financial statments for bank, etc.
    75. Schedule email campaigns
    76. Designing email templates
    77. Setting up autoresponders
    78. Creating newsletters
    79. Managing the newsletter
    80. Email list segmentation
    81. Maintenance of email lists
    82. Editing emails
    83. Leaving comments on other blogs
    84. Finding guest post opportunities
    85. Lead generation
    86. Setting up interviews for blog
    87. Setting up webinars
    88. Providing tech support during webinars
    89. Writing scripts for videos
    90. Editing video content
    91. Upload video to platform
    92. Making security updates for website
    93. Managing website backups
    94. Adding new pages
    95. Installing plugins
    96. Event support
    97. Transcription of presentation or podcast
    98. Contacting potential advertisers for website
    99. Coordinate advertising space/timing/invoiceing

    So this is a list of just 99 things a VA can do for you. I bet you can think of a few more. Why not add to my list and post

    them below in the comments?

    Trusting a Virtual Assistant

    Questioning women

    If you are a solopreneur (I love that name!), a start-up business, a want to be start-up business, or someone established with your business, you know how hard it is to run. You must wear many hats, all hats. Maybe you have considered using a virtual assistant to help you. But how do you know you can trust them with your business details?

    Image-2 of blog on virtual administrative assistant

    You must market your business, look for new clients, service the clients you have, deal with projects, do your bookkeeping (the tax man cometh!), maintain your inbox, post on social media, go to networking events and “press the flesh,” correspond with vendors (if any), write and make presentations, create blog posts, post the blogs, keep up with your contacts, newsletters, event planning if you are giving a talk or a seminar, pay contractors or employees (if there is any), make travel arrangements, answer the phone, maintain the website…you get the picture. My head hurts just thinking about it all.

    Because so many people are taking the “solopreneur” route these days, the Virtual Assistant industry is booming. It may be booming, but a big question hangs in every business person’s mind.

    What to know what a virtual assistant can do for you? Read this article.

    “How do you find a Virtual Assistant you know you can trust?” Really T-R-U-S-T!

    You start building trust with a virtual assistant by talking.

    This question is vital to developing a relationship with someone who will work with you. Without trust, you won’t ever feel comfortable assigning them tasks. Another issue is the Virtual Assistant will see things about your business you probably want to keep confidential. How do you know that person will abide by the requirements?

    These are excellent concerns and should be resolved before the first task is assigned. How can you think of “opening your kimono” to someone you don’t know?

    First, let’s review how to find a VA. They are everywhere these days, so the opportunities are endless. You could go to sites, like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, Craigslist, or Freelancer. You could go to LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. You could ask for referrals from people you know, who use one. There are many ways to find a VA.

    Before you get overwhelmed, I suggest you step back and look at what you want to outsource. Make a list of things you think someone else could handle for you. Next, review your list and decide if these tasks require a high level of trust. If all you want is someone to do simple data entry, design a logo, or proofread, then one of the big sites might be okay. These sites have a way to resolve issues if you are not happy, but most times, the result will not satisfy you.

    If you will give the VA access to your email, schedule, allow social media posting, talk to clients, have access to your website, make travel arrangements (which might require a credit card), and manage your bookkeeping, then you might need to up your level of trust.

    Once you decide what you will give to a VA, then you can decide how to look for one. At this point, ask yourself these questions:

    Three items you need consider when looking for a virtual assistant.

    1. Language. You might want someone who speaks your language as their first language. Miscommunication can become a bigger problem if your language is their second (or third) language. This is a big complaint for both sides of this situation.

    2. Time zone. If your VA lives on the other side of the world, will be it a problem for you? They will work while you are sleeping and vice versa. Getting together will be harder for you, depending on where they live.

    3. Personal views. Let’s face it; we all have personal views. Maybe you would feel best if you give an opportunity to someone who lives in your same country. You know, support the local economy. Maybe you are a Christian blogger and want someone who understands your faith. Maybe these aren’t considerations for you. How about other views you may have?

    Okay, you have whittled this down to trust level, basic location, and type of person. Now, you can focus more on how to find that one person.

    Notice how the virtual assistant responds.

    Look for a VA on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn etc. Make a list of those who appeal to you and start investigating.

    First, do they have a website? Is it nice looking? Is it free of obvious misspellings and grammatical errors (everyone makes a mistake, but not on every line)? Does it have an “About Me” page? Does it have a way to get in touch with the person (a contact me page)? Read the website. It will give you a feel for the person.

    Other things you may want to consider are how long they have been working in an administrative position. Are they governed by any board or authority (i.e., I am a CPA; therefore, I am governed by the State of Florida Board of Accountancy)?

    Do they or will they provide any referrals?

    If you fill out the “Contact Me” form and send a message, do they respond in a reasonable time (I say, give it 24 hours).

    Is their return email nicely constructed, free of misspellings and grammatical errors? Do they suggest getting in touch to talk and suggest a way (i.e., Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.)?

    When the time comes to meet, are they prompt?

    When you connect, you need to ask them questions, regarding the work you want done. Do they have experience, are they familiar with the software, etc.? Another good thing to ask is if they would be willing to have a background check. You might not do it, but their reaction is something to consider.

    Consider whether they converse with you well. Are you communicating? Do they look you in the eye? Do they present themselves well, hair combed and wearing decent clothing? Are they respectful?

    Above all else, do you get a good “gut” feel about this person? Remember, hiring someone as a VA is very similar to hiring someone who will come work in your office every day. Some people you know will fit; others won’t.

    Don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the Virtual Assistant pool. You will be amazed at what they can do for your business. Just be careful with your hiring, rely on your common sense, and take the precautions I have outlined.

    I’d love to have your feedback on hiring a VA. Have you done it? What went right, what went wrong?

    Back to top of page.

    3 Examples of How a Virtual Assistant Could Work for You!

    buried in paperwork

    A Virtual Assistant is someone that can take the more mundane, but very necessary, tasks away from the business owner, freeing them up to spend time on more revenue producing and business growing activities. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But exactly what could this person do for you and how does it work?

    Image-9 of blog on virtual administrative assistant

    As a business owner, you know you are sometimes overwhelmed. How often have you sat doing something so unproductive you cringed and thought to yourself, “I wish I was out meeting new clients?” With a little effort, you can assign those tasks to a VA and spend your time more productively.

    I talk to business people that think it is more work to get someone to take over those tasks than it would be worth doing. Not true! If you have a good virtual assistant, they will know how to implement a system that transfers information, creates a follow-up, and takes care of administrative duties.

    Let’s take a couple examples.

    You go to a networking dinner and really work the room. You meet several excellent prospects with which you are interested in having more in-depth conversations. You go home, empty your pockets of the business cards you have collected and go to bed. The next day you are up and off to a client, or busy with more marketing activities. Several days go by and those business cards are still sitting there. That is an opportunity lost. You needed to contact the prospect while your memory was still fresh in their mind. Like the next day.

    So, let’s rewrite this scenario with a virtual assistant. You gather those cards and make a quick note on the back, maybe even a numerical code. One stands for hot, hot, hot, two is follow up quickly, and three is maybe, but not great. You snap a picture of these cards, email them to your VA and go on to your clients, not worrying about it further. Your VA enters these business cards in your contact database, writes a quick note to the contact telling them you enjoyed your meeting and inviting them for a coffee or lunch. The prospect instantly remembers you and responds. The VA logs it into your calendar, sets something up, and you now have a prospective sales conversation scheduled.

    Here’s another one. Let’s suppose you bill your clients by the hour. Say you are an attorney, or a CPA, or a personal trainer. You make a note on your calendar how much time you spend with a client. That is all you need to do. Your VA logs into your calendar, enters the time in your billing system, and sends out the invoice. She provides you with a regular report on the invoices that are outstanding, and lets you know if someone is behind with their payment. They could send a gentle email reminder to that person or give them a quick call. You keep your time and watch the money get deposited.

    Let’s try one more. Throughout the year, you’re collecting revenue and incurring expenses. At tax time, you have a shoebox full of receipts you can’t remember and you do not know if everyone paid their bill. After hours of digging around, sorting paperwork, and being frustrated, you take a semblance of your documents to the accountant for tax preparation. Ugh!

    A VA could keep up with the paperwork on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. As you incur expenses, she records them in a bookkeeping system and at the end of the year, you have full documentation of your finances. She prints a Profit and Loss and a Balance Sheet and off you go to the accountant.

    These are just three simple scenarios of how a Virtual Assistant could help you. I didn’t even touch on spreadsheets, PowerPoints, travel arrangements, social media postings, e-Newsletters and email blasts, event planning, marketing support, research, phone support, and many other tasks.

    Having a VA just makes good sense. You get to do what you do best. You get to grow your business and service your clients.

    Do you have a VA? I’ll be glad to talk to you about how I work with clients.

    Do You Know What Your Prospects Are Talking About?

    Woman online

    Knowing the questions your potential clients are asking is essential for connecting and understanding them. If your thoughts, actions, and focus on your marketing, blogs, tweets, and other social media are not centered on these future clients then you may be letting opportunity slip through your fingers. With a little research, you can hone your marketing message to hit the target with a bull’s eye. Here are three simple tricks you can implement quickly to increase your ability to relate to their concerns and issues.

     

    1. Do a Twitter search. Have you used the power of a Twitter search? That is where you put a hashtag in front of a phrase and search Twitter for relating conversations. Try it. For example, let’s say you work with small retail shops. Log on to Twitter and in the search box type in #retail. You will see a list of all the discussions going on in Twitter with the word retail in them. You can then click on one of these hashtags and read these conversations. These are their concerns, challenges, and successes. This morning the discussions were on technology, fraud, and getting ready for Mother’s Day. Good information to say the least!
    2. Have you used Quora? This is a question and answer site that many of business people use. Discussions are split into topics. You can search for topics and view conversations that are taking place regarding certain subjects. For instance, today in the retail section of Quora there were discussions about online retailing, retail technology, and what the current megatrends are in the market. Look at what we came up with on Twitter. That makes two discussions on retail technology.
    3. LinkedIn is a gold mine of information. If you enter retail in the search section of LinkedIn and search for groups, you will find there are (as of April 2, 2014) 8,219 groups about retail. If you refine that search to retail technology you will find there are 377 (again, as of April 2, 2014) groups concerned about retail technology.

    Okay, so we found that the subject of retail technology appears to be a hot subject in this market. Now what do you do with that information? First, you want to understand what the big concerns are that are being discussed. Then you might want to write an article about the subject and send it to your prospective clients who are in the retail industry.

    Just like that you will probably get their attention. Along with a few follow ups (per my blog on follow up here) you have just demonstrated to your prospective retail client that you are aware, concerned, and understand their problems. Do you think they will start to pay attention? I bet they will.

    Would you like more help on honing your social media strategy? I can help.

    Follow-up is the Key to Success

    success

    Do you ever wonder why a prospective client never becomes a paying client? It might have nothing to do with the client. It might be you. Recent research shows that only 2% of deals are completed with the first meeting. That leaves 98% of business that comes from follow-up discussions or meetings. If your follow-up strategy isn’t good, you are going to lose out.

    Following up with prospective clients can take time and a good strategy. If you do it right, you can increase the number of clients you have and keep your pipeline full. Here are three strategies to help you keep your follow up open, friendly, and productive.

    1. Be consistent – First you need to follow up as soon after you meet this person as possible. Drop him/her a quick email thanking them for their time, commenting on a mutual networking event, or something else that you have in common. Do not put your prospect on an email list and send them a monthly newsletter thinking this is enough. If you have a prospective customer with whom you really want to work, you need to keep in front of them. Statistics say it takes seven “touches” before someone will buy. There is a fine line between being a pest and being consistent. What is my rule of thumb? Making contact every other week is a great way to stay in front of a prospect.
    2. Variety – Don’t call your prospect every other week and say something like, “Hi there, just checking in and wondering if you are ready to get started?” This conveys to the prospect that the only thing you are thinking about is getting his/her business. What he/she is interested in is feeling comfortable buying from you. So try setting up an appointment to “see” their place of business and see how they operate. Send them an article about something to do with their industry. Share a bit of news about a mutual acquaintance. Comment on something happening in your community. Ask about an upcoming event in their life you may know about (like a trip, a speech, a new baby or grandchild, new piece of equipment; anything will do). You are developing a relationship with this person. That will get you further than a consistent stream of sales talk.
    3. Show that you understand their situation. Continue to ask questions about the business, comment on a problem he/she was dealing with, offer potential solutions (without giving out too much detail), think about other people you can introduce them to who could be a resource for their business, offer suggestions, and the like. You want to show them you are thinking about their business and what needs to be done. You want them to know you listened to them, you have observed issues and opportunities, and you understand.

    Try a follow-up strategy that puts your prospective client’s needs before yours. With this approach, you will find that your pipeline will stay full and your engagements will go up. A Virtual Assistant will make your followup consistent and get your prospects attention.

    Want to talk about this further, or need more information? Please feel free to contact me.

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