False Frontery

Baking bread this morning. I use paper towel to dry my hands when I wash them, so I’m not clogging up a dish towel (and subsequently the plumbing or someone’s laundry) with gooey glutinous flour. I use ’em for wiping up the counter between loaves, too. Especially if my hands are still covered with gooey dough.

The kitchen trash is under the sink; not my favorite arrangement but it’s not my house. Went to pull the cupboard door open to toss the paper towel, and there’s no handle. No knob. It’s one of those cupboards where you have to grab the edge of the door to pull it open. I hate them. Invariably at some point during every meal prep, I slip and bend a fingernail on the edge or get a door open just far enough to bang when it slips shut. I hate sharp loud noises.

Why don’t the cupboards have handles or knobs?

My years in construction and architecture tell me it’s either for looks or to save money, or both. Bad reasons to make something that works poorly.

We all worry about appearances. Do you ever find yourself doing what looks good; what makes you look good, instead of doing what’s right?

If doing the right thing is gonna make you look bad, that’s a serious problem. But I’ll bet that the embarrassment you think you’re going to feel or the bad press you think you’ll be facing from saving face is all in your head. Putting on a front is time and effort wasted. Your true fans want to know the real you, flaws and all.

You can’t get away with incompetence, but you’d never do that. What you can get away with is being human, flawed, imperfect. In fact, your fans would much rather you were flawed like them than for you to be superwoman, never letting the cracks show.

If knobs make the cabinet work better but they don’t look as good . . . well, you know what to do.

Losing a Client

Earlier this week a fellow virtual assistant asked what to do when you lose a client due to an error. I replied, “even if you’ve already lost the client, apologize and do what you can to fix it and make it up. Use it as a lesson for your business. Be open and honest about it. People appreciate that. Then move on. Don’t dwell on it. Use the experience to make your business even better.”

Other comments included:
1. Do all possible to correct the situation.
2. Ask the client what you can do to make things good.
3. Learn from the mistake and think of ways to avoid it in the future.
4. We all make mistakes, that’s how we learn.

This virtual assistant has done all she can and is moving on. This is exactly the right thing to do. Though it’s never easy to lose a client, once we’ve done all we can it’s important to move on. We don’t want to allow negative energy to be drawn away from our existing clients.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions?

I’m Not a Salesperson!

Many of us hear the word salesperson and think of a pushy car salesperson. We don’t like to be sold to and so we hold back from selling our services because we don’t know how to do it without feeling like we’re being another pushy car salesperson.

If you’re in business, you’re in sales. So let’s think about how we can sell our services the right way. Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Diagnose – How can you make a recommendation to your prospect about how your services are their solution when you haven’t yet diagnosed their problem? And how can you diagnose until you’ve come to thoroughly understand the prospect’s situation?

2. What do they want? – Just because you and your prospect agree on the problem does not mean you agree on the desired outcome. Find out what they want the desired outcome to be so you can then offer the solution that will result in that particular outcome.

3. How will you provide what they want? – Explain in as much detail as possible exactly how you will provide their desired outcome. Be specific in what they will get, how you will work with them, what will happen. The more they know, the more reassured they will be that you can provide the desirable outcome they want.

This requires communicating with prospects. Listen to them, understand their situation and needs and desired outcome. Explain clearly how your solution will benefit them. Give your prospects solid reasons to work with you. Then invite them to get started!

Try Something New

Ask yourself these questions about your marketing efforts:

  • Do you feel your marketing efforts are becoming stale?
  • Are you marketing the same way and with the same messages you did one year ago?
  • Do you feel your efforts are not producing the results you’d like?

It’s time to try something new!

Perhaps you need to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Have you done one of the following yet?

  • Create a free report for your market and add more value to your marketing efforts
  • Shoot a short video with tips for your market and post it on your website
  • Attend a networking event
  • Invest in yourself and learn a new thing that will benefit your network

If what you are doing now isn’t working and getting the results you want, then doing the same old things is not the answer. It’s time to try something new. Take some time to brainstorm and envision the future you want to create for yourself. Then go out there and do it!

Cheap Versus Quality and Consistency

You’ve set your rates as a virtual assistant and then are contacted by a prospect who wonders if you’ll work for $4-$10 per hour. You know there is no way you can cover your costs for such a low hourly rate. But how can you explain to a prospect why your rate is so much more and why they still may want to use your services?
I’ve talked with quite a few clients and prospects who tried the $4-$10 per hour services and then decided to use a professional virtual assistant instead. The two main reasons they chose to use a professional virtual assistant instead are quality and consistency.
The cheaper service providers don’t usually offer the same quality of service that a professional virtual assistant can provide. Small business people are looking for someone who not only can do the tasks assigned, but that can also add value. A professional virtual assistant can do this by doing additional research and making recommendations.
One client said, “My only previous experience is with assistants that just did what I told them to, but contributed very little input and really didn’t add any value.”
That client needed an email marketing tool and had just signed up with one of the email management services. Before we got started on the project I spoke with the client and asked enough questions to find out that the particular service he had signed up for was not going to meet his needs. I offered to do some research and make recommendations on what would work best for his needs.
After we found the right service for his business, this same client said, “I just love having an assistant that is knowledgeable and gives thoughtful consideration to our projects.”
The other complaint business people had about the cheaper services was consistency. They didn’t feel they always were working with the same person or getting the same level of service from each person. The availability of the service was inconsistent.
Now there may be times when using the cheaper services is right. Each person will need to make their own determination on that. I thought of something in my life to use as an example. Have you ever been to one of those stores where everything is only $1? I have too. In fact, there are many times when buying something there really cheap is just what I need. For example, I homeschool my five-year old. At these stores I can buy all kinds of workbooks, stickers, pencils, glue, etc. for my five-year old to use in school projects. These projects aren’t going to be saved in the Smithsonian. It also doesn’t really matter if one week I go there and buy a pack of consruction paper but the next week they don’t have any. It seems that these stores are cheap but they don’t necessarily have a consistent stock of items.
But let’s say I need a quality gift. I could spend $5 at the cheap store and pick up several little gifts that might be fun to give to my five-year old. But would I buy a quality gift there to give to my friend as a going away present? No! I would go to a store where I could find something of quality, though I would expect to pay more, of course.
Then there’s the inconsistency at these cheaper stores. I may be able to find the construction paper I want for a school project one week and then it’s not there the next week. So if I really needed construction paper on a weekly basis, I’d be less inclined to go to the cheaper store because I wouldn’t be sure I could always find it. I’d be more inclined to go to the local office supply store where they always have the paper I need.
So perhaps there is a time where using a cheaper service is the right choice. For the most part, though, business persons have found that paying a higher rate for a professional virtual assistant is the right choice because they get the quality and consistency they need.

You’ve set your rates as a virtual assistant and then are contacted by a prospect who wonders if you’ll work for $4-$10 per hour. You know there is no way you can cover your costs for such a low hourly rate. But how can you explain to a prospect why your rate is so much more and why they still may want to use your services?

I’ve talked with quite a few clients and prospects who tried the $4-$10 per hour services and then decided to use a professional virtual assistant instead. The two main reasons they chose to use a professional virtual assistant instead are quality and consistency.

The cheaper service providers don’t usually offer the same quality of service that a professional virtual assistant can provide. Small business people are looking for someone who not only can do the tasks assigned, but that can also add value. A professional virtual assistant can do this by doing additional research and making recommendations.

One client said, “My only previous experience is with assistants that just did what I told them to, but contributed very little input and really didn’t add any value.”

That client needed an email marketing tool and had just signed up with one of the email management services. Before we got started on the project I spoke with the client and asked enough questions to find out that the particular service he had signed up for was not going to meet his needs. I offered to do some research and make recommendations on what would work best for his needs.

After we found the right service for his business, this same client said, “I just love having an assistant that is knowledgeable and gives thoughtful consideration to our projects.”

The other complaint business people had about the cheaper services was consistency. They didn’t feel they always were working with the same person or getting the same level of service from each person. The availability of the service was inconsistent.

Now there may be times when using the cheaper services is right. Each person will need to make their own determination on that. I thought of something in my life to use as an example. Have you ever been to one of those stores where everything is only $1? I have too. In fact, there are many times when buying something there really cheap is just what I need. For example, I homeschool my five-year old. At these stores I can buy all kinds of workbooks, stickers, pencils, glue, etc. for my five-year old to use in school projects. These projects aren’t going to be saved in the Smithsonian. It also doesn’t really matter if one week I go there and buy a pack of consruction paper but the next week they don’t have any. It seems that these stores are cheap but they don’t necessarily have a consistent stock of items.

But let’s say I need a quality gift. I could spend $5 at the cheap store and pick up several little gifts that might be fun to give to my five-year old. But would I buy a quality gift there to give to my friend as a going away present? No! I would go to a store where I could find something of quality, though I would expect to pay more, of course.

Then there’s the inconsistency at these cheaper stores. I may be able to find the construction paper I want for a school project one week and then it’s not there the next week. So if I really needed construction paper on a weekly basis, I’d be less inclined to go to the cheaper store because I wouldn’t be sure I could always find it. I’d be more inclined to go to the local office supply store where they always have the paper I need.

So perhaps there is a time where using a cheaper service is the right choice. For the most part, though, business persons have found that paying a higher rate for a professional virtual assistant is the right choice because they get the quality and consistency they need.