How to Decide If You Should Respond to a Virtual Assistant RFP

How to Decide If You Should Respond to a Virtual Assistant RFP

Do you read job postings for Virtual Assistants and don’t submit a proposal, even if you think you could do the work?

We post a good number of RFPs here at CAVA, and sometimes the clients tell us that they did not get a lot of responses.

Sometimes they don’t get any responses at all – like a recent screened RFP we posted.

If you read them and don’t respond, why is that?

An RFP (Request for Proposal) is a job posting from a client who needs help. Now.

Like, they are looking to pay someone to do work for them. Now.

If you see one that you think you could do, and you don’t respond to it, you are essentially turning down the client.

If you do respond, your odds of getting the work are VERY high. Yes, okay, some RFPs get a lot of responses – depending on the work the client is looking to get done. You definitely can’t get the work if you don’t submit a proposal.

And if you do respond and you don’t get the work, you can get feedback from the client as to why they went with someone else, so you can improve your proposal for the next client.

So how do you know if you should respond?

Here is my biggest tip to help you decide:

If you think you could help them … like, at all … Send. Them. A. Proposal.

There are many details in most RFPs, but if you find one that you have some experience and/or training with, and you think you might be able to do it, put a proposal together.

Clients May Not Know What They Need

Clients often don’t really know what they are looking for. Look to any discovery call you do with a client and you know how much conversation you have to have about the client’s needs to see if you can help them.

Sometimes filling in an RFP form makes it hard for the client to concisely communicate their needs.

Sometimes the client puts in a lot of tasks – some you can do, some you can’t.

Sometimes they don’t put in enough details for you. (We do try to make sure to clarify vague RFP postings with the clients before we post them).

The Client is Not a VA

You must remember that the client is NOT a VA. They might never have worked with a VA before. They aren’t sure what they should be asking of you.

But if you think that you can help the client with the most important pieces of their needs, send in a proposal.

Explain in your cover letter what you can do and what you might need training or procedures for.

Send a Cover Letter and PDF Proposal

And yes, we do suggest that you send both a cover letter and a proposal (PDF).

The cover letter can be the email you send letting the client know that you are submitting a proposal (it serves the same purpose). But the proposal definitely should be a downloadable document for the client – not an email, not a shared file.

Why? The client is probably collecting a lot of proposals and it is easiest if they can download them all and then look through them at the same time. When you make a client go from email, to Google or Dropbox, to their download folder, it can get really difficult to keep track of the proposals sent in. Yours might get missed if it’s not an actual document. (Hot tip: put your own name in the filename!)

Use a Proposal Template

Also, when you use a proposal template, it makes it SUPER simple (and quick) to send a proposal to a client. Imagine you see an RFP posted, you go into your template – add in the client details, their scope of work, and send it off. You are the first to respond. Do you know how impressive that is to a client? I’ll tell you, VERY. We provide a proposal template in the CAVA member area and our members have told us that they were not successful in getting clients until they started using this template – and now they are winning RFPs.

Make Your Proposal About The Client

Last point, and it’s absolutely essential – make your proposal all about the client. What do they need? That’s what your proposal should showcase. If you want to put a short blurb about yourself or your company in it, do so after you have covered all of their information. The proposal is in response to their job posting. That’s what our proposal template does – puts the client front and center.

Clients Only Want to Know Two Things

I say this all the time. Clients only want to know two things: what you can do for them, and how much it will cost them. Do not leave these things out of your proposal. Tell them what you can do, the related experience and/or training you have, and how much it will cost them.

Leave Out Stuff They Don’t Need

Do not put anything in your proposal about services they are not asking about. This is not your website, it’s a direct response to their job posting. It needs to be specific enough so that they can see what they asked for, and how you are proposing to look after that for them. That’s all.

At CAVA we have an RFP training that is also invaluable. If you are submitting proposals and not hearing back from the client, your membership fee is worth its weight in gold to get the template and the training. Because they work.

When you do everything above, you will find yourself responding to more proposals than ever before. And the clients WILL call you, because you put their needs at the forefront, which is what it’s all about.

And when you are honest about what you can and can’t do, the client can make an informed decision about whether you are the right person to invest in – and you will start your VA-client relationship off on such a good foot. Try it with the next RFP you see!

If you need help with responding to proposals, look no further than your VA community! An annual membership in CAVA is the answer. CAVA is a professional association for Virtual Assistants in Canada. We provide community, visibility, resources, connections, training, client opportunities and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits here: https://canadianava.org/join-cava/

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. Tracey owns CAVA VA association and teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

5 Tips for Better Follow Up in Your VA Business

Where are your clients coming from?

Are you getting great clients easily from the people you come into contact with on a regular basis?

Or are you struggling to find clients - and maybe even taking on clients that you don't really want to work with, just so you don't turn down the money?

If you aren't meeting enough business people, that should be your first step in trying to get new clients.

But if you are meeting business people and still not getting clients, your follow up procedure probably needs work.

How many sales conversations have you had this week? this month? this year?

The more people you talk to about your business, the more clients you will get. It's just a numbers game. Honest!

A recent Hubspot survey (and many others!) says that it takes 5 to 7 marketing touches to bring someone from a new prospect to a client.

Are you following up with people 5 to 7 times? Are you following up with some of them at all? For me, it's the statistic more than that 'marketing' piece that is important. You have to connect with most people more than once to get them to advance their relationship with you in order for them to start working with you.

Here are 5 steps to set up a follow up system that works to get you clients:

1. Create a master list, database or CRM.

Keeping everything in one place is the most important part of managing your follow up (other than doing that actual follow up, of course!) Set up something that works for you. For some people that's a notebook, for others (like me!) it's a Google Sheet, and even others use a database, CRM or app on their phone. The key is to work within your habits. A beautiful database that you never use is useless. Keep things simple to start with and find a way to use it every single day so that it becomes a simple habit.

2. Record every interaction.

When you connect with someone, you need to find that master list and update it. That's part of why it needs to be so accessible for you. If you don't keep things up to date, it will not be effective for you. I use a Google Sheet because I can access it from my PC and my phone and anywhere else online. So when I speak with someone I can update it with my most recent notes and it is always current. With the many ways we can connect with people these days, having a central place to record it all is essential.

3. Communicate with intent.

When you are looking for those 'touches', be sure that you have a reason to connect with someone. Creating the intent - the topic of conversation, if you will - is essential when you reach out to connect with them. Maybe you know of an event that is coming up that you want to tell them about, or an industry trend that you are reading about that you want to share, or maybe it's just a check in to ask how their business is going. But be sure you know what the intent of the communication is before you send it.

4. Schedule time to do it daily.

Daily follow up is really important. When you are talking to people every day about your business, you will end up with a lot of conversations going on at once. Of course that doesn't mean that you have to email or message or call everyone every day! But you should reach out to at least a couple a day. It makes the routine regular and helps you stay on top of all of the relationships you are building.

5. Ask for a sales conversation only when the time is right.

When you are prospecting and doing follow up, patience is a virtue. Don't connect with someone and right away ask them to talk to you about working together. You want to nurture the relationship with anyone you connect with. When the time is right, you can ask the prospect if they want to chat about you helping them. Or, if they aren't your ideal client, you might ask them for a referral. But always make sure it's time for that and not jump into it.

Following a few rules when you are doing your follow up helps you to keep organized, on top of things, and authentic in your relationship building.

Remember you are going to be in business for the long-term. Connecting with potential clients is about the long game. Treat your prospects well, keep in touch with them, and you will find that you will get clients more easily. And you'll probably even find the networking part FUN!

For some tips on how to manage your sales conversations once you get there, check out this free training video: The Sales Conversation. There are over 40 free training videos for VAs on my Youtube channel!

The Decision Making Process in the Human Brain

This is a guest post from Josh Wardini from 16 Best about how the decision making process affects how consumers shop. Though it is not specific to Virtual Assistants, I found the infographic very interesting and was amazed by many of the statistics (there are a lot in this infographic!!) and thought you might like to check it out too! Enjoy!

 

Shoppers Psychology Infographic 16 Best Josh Wardini

(Click the image or here to view the full amazing infographic!)

Shopping can be quite a psychological affair, whether we know it or not. Businesses, whether selling goods or services, have a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to encouraging customers to make a purchase. Elements such as the color of wording on signs, the music that is playing, and the smell in the air can all have an influence on the shopping buying decisions.

Many people would assume there is a difference when it comes to the psychology of purchasing a service compared to the psychology of buying a product, but often this is not the case at all. For example, color can also be used when one sells services, as color increases brand recognition by 80%. Different colours have the power to change consumer behavior. Advertise a service in red, for example, and you could attract impulse shoppers, or use blue hues and shoppers on a budget may be interested.

The possibility of getting a discount is also a major influence for shoppers, and brands around the world have been using this strategy for years. A good example is Budget, a car rental company from New Jersey that utilizes a Best Price Guarantee to offer discounts to their clientele, and this tactic has proven very efficient at keeping customers, acquiring new ones and developing brand loyalty.

The wording used to advertise and describe a product can also affect consumer behaviour. 60 percent of customers are more likely to buy a product or service that has the word ‘guaranteed’ used to describe it. Additionally, 68% of consumers have also said that a stored signage reflects the quality of its products or services.

If consumers are buying online, then different things may affect the purchasing decision. Features that are likely to have an influence are discounts and offers, trustworthy reviews, a mobile friendly webpage, and the brand’s reputation as a whole, to name just a few.

Guest post by Josh Wardini: Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at 16best.net. With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.

Why You Need a Niche Market

A niche market can be thought of as a narrowly defined group of potential customers - usually a portion of a larger target market. For example, a target market is working women, but a niche market is working women with kids at home, or working women in executive positions, or working women in the financial sector.

As a small business owner, you usually do not have the money, resources and time to market to a larger target market. You need to focus your marketing efforts on those people most likely to buy what you offer.

Think of narrowing your niche as simply positioning yourself more closely to the people or companies who could benefit most from your services.

Many of us like to believe that the number of people who want and need our product or service has no limit. Also, most of us truly want to help as many people as possible and so therefore believe we almost have an obligation to let everyone know about what we offer.

But the truth of the matter is if a small business tries to market to everyone, they'll eventually lose money and quite possibly go out of business.

I know it seems to go against common sense that we make more money and have more success when we limit the scope of who we market to. However, it is true and its been proven over and over again by very successful small businesses.

There are many reasons why it makes good business and marketing sense to have a niche market:

• you can focus your marketing efforts and not dilute them by trying to appeal to everyone

• it allows you to stand out as an expert in your niche which makes people come to you

• you attract significantly more business

• you have a natural competitive advantage because you can dominate your niche

• your marketing materials and communications are more targeted and therefore more effective

• people more easily refer business to you as they have a very clear idea of who you appeal to

• you can easily determine what opportunities to say yes to and which ones to pass on

• your creativity and strengths get to shine through

• makes it easy to find suitable strategic partners and joint ventures

• you spend less money on getting your message out there because you're not wasting time and resources on talking to people who aren't
interested in what you have

By taking the time (and the deep breath!) to narrow down your target group into a niche market that your company, products and services are best suited to serving, you'll be making a huge investment in a successful future.