Let’s jump in, shall we?
Vacation teaches me a lot. I come back so much more wise - in life, and in business. If you’re interested in hearing about a couple of previous road trip lessons, you can check them out here: 2012, 2013.
Let’s jump in, shall we?
You want help for you business. You need help. You haven’t had a break in weeks and you’re just about to hide out in the basement for a day or two to have some quiet time and evaluate this whole “be my own boss” thing. How can you possibly hire a virtual assistant? You’re not in “millionaire” status yet. Heck, you’re not really even in “thousandaire” status. But you just can’t do it alone any more. How can it all work out?
Virtual Assistants Aren’t Full Time
They can be, but most virtual assistants have a book of clients just like you who are just getting help when they need it. And truly, that is the best part about hiring a virtual assistant. You don’t have to have someone sitting there, getting paid, waiting for work to show up.
Hire on a Per Project Basis
There is no requirement to hire a VA at an hourly rate. Start with one project. Set limits for the time, the dollar amount, the task. If you tell someone you want them to do as much research as she can for $200, then you don’t have to worry about what the project will cost. It’s already there, and you can plan your budget accordingly.
Hire for a Set Amount of Time
Another way to keep within a budget you can afford is to hire a virtual assistant for a certain amount of hours per month. Plenty of assistants provide package deals. This way you know that every month it is going to cost you X dollars. Once it’s built into your budget, it becomes part of your regular expenses.
The key to being able to afford a virtual assistant is understanding the financial benefit you can achieve from it. Would you rather be trying to cobble together social media posts, or researching leads, or would you rather be trying to talk with and sell to potential clients?
If a virtual assistant could free up one hour of your time each week to allow you to sell to potential clients, what would that be worth to you? If one sale was $500 and one hour of a virtual assistant’s time cost $25, I’d say that’s an amazing ROI.
It’s scary to invest when you’re counting every penny, but when you look at the big financial picture, you’ll see that you can’t afford not to hire a virtual assistant. (And you won’t need to hide out in your basement!)
Last week we talked about my journey to purchase a new vehicle. Here’s the continuing saga.
A salesperson from a dealership responded to my email. Finally! Let’s call him Bob. Bob responded quickly, and suggested a possible vehicle. I replied back, told him I’d like to learn more, and we set up a time for me to come to the dealership and chat.
I was feeling pretty good about it. Someone had finally responded. That first part of the sale had begun - acknowledgement.
I arrived at my appointment time, checked in, and someone went to get Bob while I made myself a cup of coffee. A few minutes later Bob approached me and introduced himself. I put out my hand for a shake. (Shaken!)
Bob apologized to me, stating that something came up and he wouldn’t be able to talk with me, however, he had brought over “Jerry” who, Bob explained, had been there as long as he had, and knew everything, etc. etc.
I said hello, extended my hand out for a shake, but Jerry was already off and running back to his desk. (Unshaken!!)
We sit, and Jerry tells me Bob gave him my info, and asked me what I was looking for. I explained it again. He clicked a lot on his computer, printed up two pieces of paper with two different vehicles that I had mentioned, and said I couldn’t get the deal I wanted (hinged on a monthly payment amount I was setting a limit at).
And that was it. I sat there for a moment, and then said, “Well, I guess I’ll keep looking.”
I left. Angry. Frustrated. No - angry.
Look, I cannot stand pushy sales tactics. I have walked out of stores because of it and have never returned. But - isn’t your job to SELL to me?
Let’s break down things that went wrong.
At NO time did Jerry take me to look at any of the vehicles I was interested in. Show me the product. Get me more interested in it.
At NO time did Jerry provide other vehicle suggestions. “I know you’ve been looking at X, but have you considered Y. It can meet your requirements and still get you the price point you want to be at.” Maybe there are options I don’t know about.
At NO time did Jerry put in any effort to try to get me into the vehicle I wanted. He didn’t show me how different down payments would change the monthly payment. He didn’t talk to me about the different vehicle packages and how, if I went to a different package and maybe added an extra thousand for the down payment, I could be close to the monthly payment I want. Show me the different ways I can potentially get the vehicle I want.
The whole “sales conversation” took about 15 minutes. And most of it was Jerry typing things into a computer.
No one wants to have a sales pitch shoved down his throat, but I think everyone wants to be offered all possible information and options. Had Jerry actually been a proper salesman, I might have walked out of there with a new vehicle.
But, I didn’t. I’m still searching - now more for the right salesperson than the right vehicle.
I am buying a new vehicle.
Let me rephrase that. I am attempting to buy a new vehicle. My current car will be turned over to my soon-to-get his license 16-year old, and that means I need a new ride.
Over the years I’ve purchased 3 different vehicles. The first was a small pick-up truck after the car I was driving croaked. (It was my first brand new vehicle!) The second was a sedan I bought because we couldn’t fit a baby in a 2-seat pick-up truck. Then I bought my third, current car because the sedan croaked.
They were all vehicles I liked, but they were all bought because I “had to.” So I was getting whatever was on the lot that I could afford.
But now, I can be a little choosy. I can get what I want. (Well, mostly - what I want and my budget don’t quite sync up!) I can take my time and get the vehicle that will last for the next couple of decades.
So I did things differently.
I researched dealers. Then I researched certain salespeople at dealers. And I began to email them specifically, sending them my request. The type of car, the features (must haves and really wants), the monthly payment limit, the down payment, etc. I asked each person to let me know if they had a deal for me based on what I want (or at least something close).
Guess what happened? Nothing.
That’s right - nothing. No response. No reply even to tell me they couldn’t help me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with car salespeople before, but for no one to reach out to me - that’s just not right.
Here I am, offering to spend money, asking for help - and I get no reply. What kind of good sales tactic is that?
In my business, when people contact me about my services, I reply. And sometimes there are people I cannot help. But I still reply. I actually look around for other VAs who may provide a service I don’t.
The first part of the sale is acknowledging the potential customer. Without that acknowledgement, it’s just a person wandering around a website, a parking lot or a showroom. How else do you expect to get people to purchase your goods or services if you’re not going to respond to them? How do expect to have an income?
I finally got one person who emailed me back, promptly and with information.
Guess who’s getting my business and my money?
While there are probably hundreds of different tasks you’d like to offload to someone, and thousands of virtual assistants worldwide ready to help, you may want to focus your attention on just some key items at first to help you gain back some of your time. Listed below are three jobs you should definitely be contracting out to an assistant.
You are the owner of a business. You should not be answering phones, taking orders, sending invoices, troubleshooting for customers, etc. Take a look a just how much time you spend doing these tasks and ask yourself where your time could be better spent. Maybe you spend 20 hours per week on customer service issues. Think about what you could be doing to grow your business if you had those 20 hours in a week.
VAs are great at being customer service reps for your business. Once properly trained, we’re happy to keep your customers happy, answer emails, reply to questions, send out invoices, etc.
Social Media Monitoring/Posting
If you’re going to have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, you’re going to need to be active on them. What’s the point of having them otherwise? With over 2 billion active users on Facebook alone, having an active social media presence for your business is important. But it’s not easy to keep those accounts up.
You want to make sure you’re posting interesting things that people will share. You have to be responsive to visitor’s comments and questions. You don’t want a negative comment/question/problem to sit out there for days without a response. You want definitely need to share your products and services. And all of this can be time consuming.
A social media VA will set up a posting schedule, create and keep fresh content out there, and respond to your customers (and potential customers).
Depending on the type of business you are involved in, you might be having a lot of meetings or interviews that are recorded. (If you have a podcast, you definitely need to have transcripts available!) You absolutely must get a VA to do this transcription. An experienced one, too!
Transcripts are incredibly important for many business owners, but to do them on your own is completely unwise. Transcribing audio takes a very long time to do. On average, for one hour of audio, it can take about three hours of time to transcribe. And if you do not have the proper equipment and experience, it can take several more hours.
Hand off your transcription to someone who will turn it around quickly and accurately.
Remember, your time is valuable in growing your business. Don’t waste it doing those things that should be handed off to a virtual assistant. Free up your time to develop your products, network with others and grow your business!
If you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
20+ years business experience and growing!