Depositphotos_7172137_xsThis is Day 14 in the 31 Days to Become a More Efficient Virtual Assistant Series

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One of the hardest things you’ll go through when starting a virtual assistant business will be finding clients. Without clients there is no business. Studies show that most small businesses fail within the first year.

I’m not going to speak on behalf of others in the VA industry but will go out on a limb and assume that most of you really don’t like to “sell” our services. You would probably prefer people just hire you because you say you can do something and can do it well.

This means that by the time a prospective client contacts you, you need to clearly communicate value and expertise in whatever manner you communicate (whether it is by phone, email, Skype, etc.).

There will always be tire kickers and people who are just looking for the lowest-price. Yet even with those people you’ll get more and more comfortable with the “selling” that is inevitably involved with owning your own business. And, if you watch closely, you’ll start to see some trends.

What can you do to increase your chances of closing a prospective client once they find you?

Have a FAQ page on your website

There are numerous ways a prospective client can find us and we can’t always assume they will visit our website, but if they do…we can’t assume they will thoroughly read through all pages which may have useful information for them. That being said, it’s a great idea to have an FAQ page on your site. The longer you’re in business the more content you will have for the page as you’re asked more and more questions. Here is an example of a great FAQ page.

Make it easy for people to contact you

If you prefer to have people schedule a time to talk to you on the phone (or Skype) consider using an inexpensive tool, such as TimeTrade. Here is a more detailed overview of TimeTrade and why I like it so much.

You can also list your phone number or Skype ID on your website. There are arguments to support both sides which we detail out more on this post.

Be sure your website contact form works and check it regularly by testing it yourself.

You’re always being judged

If your communication is taking place via email it’s very likely you’re being judged without even realizing it. Be sure to use good email communication and carefully re-read your emails to assure you’re using proper spelling and grammar.

Respond quickly, but not too quickly

Set expectations on your contact page of your website indicating how soon you will reply to their email. And make it happen. Remember, there is a difference between 24 hours and 24 business hours.

If you respond too slowly it may be perceived that you’re unreliable, too slow, too busy, or have poor email management skills.

If you respond too quickly it may be perceived that you don’t have other clients (and while that may be true and there are multiple reasons for that, such as you just started your business, or it can also indicate you’re not good).

Ask smart questions

Clarify, clarify, clarify. It’s rare that a business owner will let you know what they really need, how much they are looking to spend, etc. when contacting you so it’s up to you to ask the questions needed to assure you are both on the same page.

A real life example from my website contact form:

Business owner email: I need someone to handle all of my social media. Can you do that for me?

What clarifying questions would you want to ask this person? Here are just a few examples:

  • What social networks? Remember that some sites allow for both personal and business profiles. Clarify that as well.
  • Do they want you to “be” them or do they just need content curated and scheduled?  Finding content can be the most time consuming.
  • How often do they want each network updated?
  • What is their budget?

Be honest

I saved the best for last. This trumps everything else. Without honesty you damage your own integrity as well as the integrity of the entire virtual assistant industry. You’ll earn more trust and respect if you’re honest about what you’re not good at (you’re good at a lot of things, don’t lie about the things you aren’t good with). If you don’t know how to do something but **think** you can figure it out, be honest about that too.

If you’ve built relationships with others in the industry you can always make a referral to another virtual assistant who does have the skills the business owner needs. Talk about good Karma!

Years ago a client asked me if I was familiar with Ning Networks. I was only familiar with them from the visitor standpoint, not managing and working on the “back end”. However, I wanted to learn and said something along these lines to her, “I’ve never worked with Ning but I’d be willing to learn. If you’re willing to give me a chance I’m willing to do it for half of my normal rate because I know I will be slower than someone who is familiar.” She took me up on that offer and I later learned 1ShoppingCart the same way with her. You’re getting paid to learn, increasing your skill set and you’ve shown the business owner you’re someone who has their best interests at heart.

You won’t close every prospective client who contacts you but you will become a better virtual assistant by fine-tuning your communication skills with each consultation you have. Most of all, you’ll become known as a person of integrity and that is priceless. As your reputation grows you’ll soon be getting word of mouth referrals. And yes, those word of mouth referrals can come from a prospective client who opted not to work with you.