I Hate Selling - How Do I Get Clients for my Virtual Assistant Business?

I Hate Selling - How Do I Get Clients for my Virtual Assistant Business?

Do you get uncomfortable selling your VA services?

If you do, don't worry you're not alone.

This is one of the most common issues for Virtual Assistants who are just getting started (or who are trying to grow).

Here's the reason: we have usually not had any sales training in the corporate world. It's really as simple as that. We don't know how!

When I talk to VAs who are struggling with this, and I ask them what they say to people when they are networking, the result is almost always the same.

The trip over their words.

They try to educate the client about the VA industry.

They leave the conversation frustrated, and the potential client confused.

But did you know that the most effective sales conversations are simply that ... conversations?

 What are you saying to potential clients?

If this is you, it's a really simple fix!

All you have to do is make all of your conversations about the client.

Not you. The client.

Ask them questions.

  • What do they do for their business?
  • Do they have support?
  • What keeps them busy?
  • How do they find clients?
  • What systems do they use to run their business?

The answers to the questions will help you tell them more about your own business - believe it or not!

And everyone LOVES to talk about their own business (trust me on this one!). Once you start asking them questions, you will be much more at ease because they will end up doing most of the talking.

You will also learn quickly whether you can help them or not.

If you can, great - you can tell them how. It's just a conversation. 

If you can't, then you move on.

No selling involved.

Try it in your next networking conversation.

When someone says to you, 'What do you do?' respond with, 'I'm a Virtual Assistant. What do you do?'

... and watch the conversation develop from there.

There is no need to fear sales - because when you offer support, either you can help someone or you can't.

Sure, you still have to talk about logistics and pricing and all that good stuff, but the general conversation doesn't have to paralyze you.

Leave the infomercial out of it.

Many VAs I know avoid in person networking for this reason alone.  They think they have to start every conversation with their awkward one-minute infomercial. 

Don't do that. It's not natural and it usually falls completely flat.

Just talk. Ask questions. Answer questions.

Your services will naturally come up. 

No sales necessary. And I guarantee you that you will get clients!

 

 

How to Find Great Clients

newcustomers

 

Being self-employed is extremely rewarding. It can also be a challenge.

Often the difference is the type of client you have.

The better your clients are, the more rewarding your business feels and the happier you are.

So, doesn't it makes sense to create a strategy to find great clients?

Of course it does!

Here are a few tactics to consider.

Network

One of the best ways to find people you enjoy working with is to meet them by networking - either local or online.

Sometimes you click right away with another business owner.

A simple, “I’d love to see how we can work together” may end up producing profitable results for years to come.

Networking both online and off is a fantastic way to find great clients.

In fact, you will likely find that networking is the best source of ideal clients for your VA business.

Spread the Word

Put the word out about your business.

Let your friends, family and associates know that you’re looking to add two or three quality clients to your schedule. (make sure they know what you do!)

You might be surprised at what you find.

You may end up with more quality clients than you have time for.

Referrals

When you find clients that you enjoy working with, ask them for referrals.

People tend to be attracted to like-minded individuals and clients referred from existing clients tend to be of the same caliber. In short, good clients refer good clients.

And often if you are working with a client you love, you learn quickly about their industry - and where more great clients are not far behind.

Consider offering a referral program for your business. Reward customers for their referrals by giving them a credit towards their own work, or even a gift card or a small gift. (I love Send Out Cards brownies!). Let them know you appreciate their referrals.

Partnerships

Consider forging partnerships with other business owners that you enjoy working with.

For example, if you’re a virtual assistant who provides social networking management you might partner with someone who creates social networking graphics.

Together you could offer a complete social networking package.

Before You Begin Searching For More Great Clients

There are a few steps to take before you begin searching for more VA clients. Taking these steps will ensure you’re attracting the type of client you want. It’ll also make sure you can accommodate their needs.

1. Make sure you have room in your schedule for them. If not, consider eliminating some of clients or tasks from your calendar. You want to make sure you can meet the needs of your new clients.

2. Identify exactly what you want in a client. What makes a client great to work with? What are you looking for? Are they easy to communicate with? Do they provide minimum instruction? Do they pay well? Define what makes a good client.

3. Take steps to make sure that your existing clients and any new clients know how much you appreciate them. Create a customer appreciation strategy. Finding those great clients is only the first step. You want to make sure to keep them too.

Finding great clients isn’t difficult.

Know what you’re looking for.

Don’t hesitate to ask for new clients.

Pay attention to the service you provide.

A good VA client can stick with you for years.

It’s worth the time and effort to show your appreciation.

Effective Networking

by Lori Padgett

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a network is a “group, system, etc. of interconnected or cooperating individuals.”

Choosing An Event/Group

  • Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
  • Attend events consistently. Going just once every few months is almost a waste of time for networking purposes. Building business relationships takes time and patience.

Being Prepared

  • Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes you special or different from others doing the same thing. You must first have a clear understanding of what you do before you can articulate it to others.
  • Establishing and building relationships, not hard selling, is the key to successful networking. Be prepared to share your expertise and contacts.
  • Crucial to your success is that you treat networking as an exchange of ideas, information and experience. You are not selling or simply telling or “sponging” off of others for your own benefit only. Be generous in sharing your talents, experiences, and ideas, and always be respectful of those around you.
  • Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
  • Make people feel important, in order to make yourself important to them.
  • To avoid being tongue-tied when you try to start a conversation with someone you don’t know, prepare a self-introduction that is clear, interesting, and well delivered. It shouldn’t be longer than 8-10 seconds. Although practicing your introduction might at first seem silly and artificial, it will eventually help you make an introduction that sounds natural, confident, and smooth.
  • Dress for the occasion. This could mean dressing the way that your customers dress or dressing the way that they expect you to dress. First impressions are made in a matter of seconds.
  • Have your own name tag with business name made up – it’s inexpensive and shows professionalism. It also shows that you are prepared and pay attention to detail.
  • Organize yourself. Always carry a pen and paper with you during an event to jot down miscellaneous information that you may need to remember. (i.e.: a reminder to send a contact further information about your product or services). Never, never, never, write on a business card that a contact has given to you. Many people view this as disrespectful and bad manners, and you can never tell if the person that you have just met will be someone who views it this way.
  • Never leave home without your business cards!

Prior to the Event

  • Let preparation and practice be your guide. Spend some time planning your conversation generators.
  • In many networking events, you will find yourself with time to “mingle” among the other attendees before the formal program begins. It may be beneficial for you to spend some time planning and preparing how you will “work the room” to get the most from your efforts.

At the Event

  • Arrive early. It’s much harder to break in on conversations when you arrive late.
  • Wear your name tag on the right side to provide an easy sight-line to your name when shaking hands.
  • Not sure how to approach someone? Simply smile, nod your head, walk forwards with hand stretched out and say, “I just wanted to come over and say hello.” (Sounds daft but it works.)  Say your name clearly. “My name is (your name in full). It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  • Approach and introduce yourself to people standing alone, or groups of three or more. When two people are talking together, there is a possibility that they know each other and are engaging in a personal conversation. However, their body language (i.e.: are they facing each other as they talk?), will give you a good indication if they are approachable.
  • Have an effective handshake. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of at least one “bone-crusher” and one “limp fish.” Practice your handshake to avoid giving one of those yourself! Also, always keep your right hand free, and hold drinks in your left hand to avoid cold, wet greetings.
  • Start with small talk.
  • Use an “elevator” speech: describe who you are or what you do in ten seconds or less
  • Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  • Ask “feel good’ questions like, “How did you get started?” or “What do you consider a challenging project?” You will learn a lot about your contact’s business, while showing interest in them as a person.
  • LISTEN CAREFULLY, and don’t monopolize the conversation.
  • When appropriate, offer a business card, and ask the other person for one of his or hers. Sometimes, it is more appropriate to exchange business cards only when you depart from one another. Whenever you give a business card, ask for a business card. When given one, don’t just take it and place it in your pocket. Make the person feel important by looking at their card for a few seconds. You might see something that could be a topic of discussion. . Confirming the information is a nice way to engage. Then place it in your wallet or in your jacket pocket.
  • Some people give 2 business cards as standard practice. That way, their contact has one card to keep and one card to pass on to someone else, or perhaps to keep in a different location.
  • Don’t stay too long in one place. After eight to ten minutes of conversation with a contact, excuse yourself with a pleasantry such as, “It was nice meeting you …
  • Again, take your business cards absolutely EVERYWHERE! Maximize every “per chance” meeting. You never know when you might meet someone who can help you. Family or friends social events could produce unexpected encounters with people. So you’re going to a birthday party for your friend’s child. You never know who you might meet there.

After the Event

  • Once the event is over, your networking doesn’t stop! Be sure to follow up with those people you’ve met, keep in contact, share information and offer to help in any way you can.
  • Be sure to send a written acknowledgement or “Thank You” note to your networking contacts.
  • It’s also a great idea to send a “Thank You” note to the host or sponsors of the event. You will be remembered for it.
  • Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas. You want to build the relationship, so take the first step!
  • Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.

Tips For Sit-Down Events

  • Some networking events will provide a meal. It is crucial to practice good table etiquette to make the best impression.
  • At a sit down affair, don’t sit as soon as you get there. Keep moving around and networking as long as possible.
  • At the dinner table, introduce yourself at the beginning of the evening to everyone at your table.  If you are familiar with the others at the table (whether you knew them previous to the event, or have just met them), make the introductions. Proceed as if you are the host of the table.
  • Listen to learn. Start the conversation by asking questions, such as why people are there, what they hope to gain, how they found out about the event, etc.
  • Keep your business cards handy, but not on the table. Do not deal them out impersonally.

Additional Thoughts…

  • Consider volunteering to help out at various networking event. This puts you in a better strategic position for meeting people and passing your business card along. Others might view you differently, if they know you are willing to go the extra mile in helping them. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.  Zig Ziglar, one of the most successful sales trainers in the world says “if you help enough people get what they want in life, you will get what you want in life”.
  • Risk rejection – it’s not the end of the world.  Rejection happens to everyone at one point or another. Some individuals may not respond to your introduction in the way you would like. If that happens, don’t take it personally. Politely move on. Maintain an outgoing and friendly attitude and always keep your sense of humour!
  • Never make assumptions about the person you are talking to. Everyone has friends, colleagues, relations and contacts, and one of them might be just the person you need to speak to.
  • Do not hand out anything other than your business cards at an event. If a contact is interested in more information, send them a brochure or other information after the event. This provides you with a great opportunity for a future follow-up with them.
  • Networking involves WORK. With preparation, effort and enthusiasm, you’ll get a great deal out of it.
  • Don’t feel intimidated. It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. You are dealing with a person. They have the same hopes and fears that you have.
  • Remember you have one mouth and two ears. Use them proportionately and you’ll be well on your way to being a successful networker!

Lori Padgett is the Owner of Apex Administration and can be contacted through her website at:  http://www.apexadministration.com

Fundamentals of Networking

by Sheri Andrunyk

There are so many aspects of personal growth and development.

Meeting new people always adds tremendous value and insight, whether in a personal or professional setting.

  • Building relationships!
  • Be genuine and interested in others!  People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
  • Give before you get!  You may not be able to exchange business with everyone you meet; however, you can listen and learn about others, so you can refer them business when the opportunity arises.  Most will do the same in return.  You reap what you sow!
  • Set yourself apart!
  • Be willing to ‘share’ what you have to offer!  It’s not enough to say ‘this is what I do’… and ‘hope’ others get it.   Answer ‘why you’ … ‘why your business’? Your prospects and clients are saying “Sell me…! … Educate me; enlighten me… on the benefits… on you… on trying something new or attending an event…”  Make it easy!

People are busy.  They want to know that their business is very important to you; and that you respect their time and can relate to their life.  Strike a kind and effective balance in the way you communicate and connect with them.

Be a ‘breath of fresh air’!  Make her/him feel ‘taken care of’.

Isn’t this what ‘we’ want when we’re the client?

This way, you will enjoy making many new friends along the way…

Sheri Andrunyk is the Founder of Women For Women, Keynote Speaker & Empowerment Coach.  Sheri conducts a “Women in Business Workshop Series” that is open to all women; and also offers uniquely personalized coaching sessions, instilling further confidence and clarity for her clients.  In addition, Sheri is President of Sales for Aloette Cosmetics and provides support and training to her staff of Beauty Specialists.  www.womenforwomen.ca sheri@womenforwomen.ca