Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

5 Effective Ways Virtual Assistants Can Follow Up To Get More Clients

Follow up that falls flat is wasting your networking time.

As a virtual assistant, you probably know by now that everything in your business can’t be done virtually.

Most things can – but when it comes to meeting new clients, the quickest way is still in person.

When you see people face to face, trust builds more quickly and easily.

Online connections have their place, but face to face networking is really something you should get used to in your business.

And when you do, make sure you have an effective follow up strategy.

Meeting people in person takes more time, so you want to make sure you are making the most of your time by building a solid foundation for those new connections.

Here are 5 effective things you can do to follow up with a new connection:

1. Collect business cards or contact info.

When you go to an event, you often meet more than one person at a time. It will be difficult to remember all of the details about everyone, so be sure to get their contact info so you can reach out to them afterwards.

Even if you think you have only met a few good connections, it saves you time when you get home to connect again.

Bring your own business cards to hand out as well. The other person may not contact you (if they don’t do good follow up!) but it is always professional to be able to hand out your card, and often it becomes a conversation starter.

2. Send them a resource or something of value.

After you have met someone, send them an initial email letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them, what you liked about the event, and something that you think might be of value to them.

Sometimes that is a link to one of your blog posts that was the topic of a conversations. Or maybe you send them the name of a book from an author you spoke about. Or a link to and event you discussed.

Whatever you send them, make sure it’s in line with what you talked about at the event. Relevancy is important – it shows that you were listening.

3. Ask before adding them to your mailing list.

Even though you can technically add someone to your mailing list when they give you their business card, always ask them first. I always prefer to have people reach out directly to me after I give them my card – rather than just starting to send me their newsletter.

Because it often takes up to 10 ‘touches’ for someone to move from being a prospect to a client, you don’t want to lose them right away by dumping them onto your newsletter list. Those touches really should be made personally if you met face to face.

4. Introduce yourself afterwards if you didn't have a conversation.

Some events allow you to put your business card at everyone’s place setting, or they provide you with a swag bag with marketing materials in it.

If this is the case, and you find yourself with a handful of business cards, start at the beginning. Reach out to the person and introduce yourself as you would have in person. If you can get the opportunity to have a quick phone call it’s even better.

Try not to discount anyone from their business card. Reach out to everyone. You never know where your next client will come from.

If someone doesn’t look like they might be your client, they could still have a great network, and be a potential referral source. Take a few minutes to explore their business and you might be surprised.

5. Connect with people on their social networks.

After every event, take some time to connect with everyone you met or came into contact with on social media. That doesn’t mean add them as a friend on Facebook. You can do that, but I prefer add only actual friends to my Facebook. But by all means check out all of their social media pages, and follow or like the ones that are suitable.

While you are there, explore a little bit about what they post and who they are speaking to. Add that information to your follow up notes in case it is relevant to your conversations.

Social media is meant to be social, so don’t just follow them and be done with it. Take the opportunity to reach out and send them a personal message. And like and share their stuff. The best way to get a referral is to give one first. The same goes for social media. Share other people’s stuff and they’ll share yours.

The fortune is in the follow up.

You may have heard that saying and it’s true.

Why spend your time networking if you are not going to work to make those connections stronger?

And when you develop a system that works for you, your follow up can be flawless and regular. And you will get clients sooners.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

Struggling to Find Virtual Assistant Clients? Look at Your Numbers!

This Strategy Will Make Finding VA Clients Easier

Are you still having trouble getting Virtual Assistant clients through networking?

I hear this often from VAs in the online forums. They feel like they are always networking but not getting clients.

It can be very discouraging when you feel like you are doing ‘everything’ to find clients but you are still struggling.

We take it personally and the defeat can actually make many VAs throw in the towel on their business.

Look at your numbers.

How many clients are you actually looking for?

If you were looking for 100 clients, then you would have reason to be discouraged if every time you went to an event you came home with nothing. It would be an uphill battle to try to find 100 people to work with you.

Most VAs are looking for far fewer clients than that. You are probably only looking for one (or one at a time). To fill your practice you may only need 5 good clients. Five!

So specifically how many people you need to connect with to find 5 clients? Do you know that number?

Getting strategic about your numbers makes things easier to measure and to set goals that can help you get the clients.

How many you need to connect with depends a lot on where you are choosing to network.

If you are networking in the right place, you might only need to talk to 5 people. Most of the time it’s more like 15 or 20 good contacts that convert into 5 clients.

The point is, it’s a lot fewer people than you think it is.

If your networking is not working for you, you probably aren’t being strategic enough about it. 

Here are a few tips to help:

1.Go only where you know there are potential clients.

If you go to a lot of events and don’t get clients, identify why that is.

Who are you meeting there? Are the people attending 'your' kind of people?

What are your conversations about? What are you saying to them?

2. Know your services inside and out.

If you know who is attending the event, you can decide what you want to talk about, or present, in terms of your service offerings.

When you are in a networking situation, you need to have the answers to the questions the prospective client asks you. It expedites the process of ‘can you help me?’

3. Talk to people to gauge their interest.

Can you help them? If you think you can, ask them questions about their business and chat about how you can think you can help them.

If there is interest, invite them to a sales conversation after the event to explore the possibility of working together. It really can happen that quickly!

Networking strategically works for you much better than just ‘spending time’ networking.

You must have a good strategy to make it work for you.

Figure out where to find the people that you can help. And make the decision to spend your time there.

Focus your efforts on one good networking place, and make it work for you.

When you realize how easy it is to just work with your numbers, you can get clients much more easily.

Set up your strategy and when you find one client, then you simply rinse and repeat the process that got you that client.

For more great info about networking for your VA business, check out my free networking videos for Virtual Assistants on my Youtube channel.

3 Tips to Use Your Schedule to Get More Done Every Day

Why The Calendar Should Be a Virtual Assistant’s Best Friend

Being organized is a quality that a lot of Virtual Assistants bring to the table in their work.

Keeping client tasks organized and getting things done is even a common part of our service offerings.

But sometimes it’s not the way we run our own business.

Or, sometimes when we bring on a number of clients to work with at once, it becomes more difficult to make the decisions necessary to properly prioritize each client’s tasks and get things done.

Are you struggling with getting everything done in a day?

If so, I recommend using your calendar as much as possible.

Keeping a schedule makes all areas of your business better. It not only shows you what you need to get done, but it also helps you to manage your time around each thing.

Here are a few easy ways to use your calendar to get more done:

1. Schedule your business hours

Make sure that your clients and your family know when you are supposed to be working. Having regular business hours can really help everyone. For your family, it lets them know when not to disturb you, and for your clients, it tells them when they can expect to hear back from you. Business hours don’t have to be super long every day (you could have your office open just a few hours a day), but it helps communication with everyone around you, and it makes things run smoother for you.

2.  Schedule blocks of time for work

Use your calendar to block out your day. Jumping from task to task interrupts your brain’s signals too often. If you want to really focus on what you are doing, and become more efficient at it, schedule a block of time anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to work on something specific. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you are focused during that time you will see just how much more productive you can be. Short blocks also help you to move things around as necessary if you need to. Try it for a week!

3. Schedule your distractions

I know what you’re thinking – how can I schedule something I don’t even know about? I recently came across an awesome suggestion to deal with distractions – it’s called a Distractions List. When you are in the middle of a task, and something distracts you, simply write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook that you keep beside your computer. Then, schedule time in your calendar to handle the items on that distractions list. If you find that you have a lot of things on your list, you might book in distraction time a few times a day – mid morning, midday and mid afternoon works. Cross the things off your distraction list when you have looked after them, and get back to work!

Bonus tip: When you are scheduling your time, be sure you have a start and end time, so that you know when you are supposed to STOP working on something. If you have ever gone down a research or social media ‘rabbit hole’, you’ll know what I mean. Set a stop time, and stop then. Assess whether you completed your task on time or if you need to adjust the schedule for future.

When you work by yourself like so many VAs do, managing your time is really important. Productivity is really essential to run a profitable business, to practice excellent time management every day. 

Don’t feel that you need to jump when a client (or a family member) needs something. Hold yourself to your schedule, and advise them when you can look after what they need. Put them on your distractions list!

And remember that short blocks of time are more manageable - instead of jamming something new into the middle of your day, see what you can move to another time slot.

Simply put, scheduling works to get more done. Try it for yourself!

For more tips on time management for your VA business, check out my free Virtual Assistant training videos on my Youtube channel.