Have you ever had a conversation with someone who goes into so much explanatation or effort to provide “evidence” that in trying to convince you, they actually have the opposite effect? In trying to make you think they know what they’re talking about, you clearly see they don’t know what they’re talking about at all. It’s like the criminal who offers up such advance intricate detail of his alibi and reasons for his every minute action that he actually ends up looking more guilty. They’re trying too hard.
Many Virtual Assistants think getting clients is all about jumping through hoops and junking up their websites with every credential and work sample they can think of. They want to put up examples of PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets, brochures, yada yada yada…
This indicates the erroneous thinking that a website or work sample is going to be the thing that clinches the deal. In fact, any work samples you provide will make very little difference. They will be of only passing importance, after the fact, after the prospect has already made up their mind about you one way or the other.
You know what? It’s not necessary… especially if you truly are what you say you are.
First of all, you need to know, really know, what business you are in. Are you in the business of writing or design or bookkeeping or secretarial services? Or are you in the business of administrative support. What is your first and primary focus?
If you are in the administrative support business, what you are “selling” (so to speak) is an administrative relationship, not line-item services. And think about it… how do you provide a “work sample” of a relationship?
The absolute, most important credential you need to have in this business is competence. That qualification isn’t “sold” or evidenced through work samples. It is an intangible characteristic that is demonstrated throughout all your interactions with your prospects and site visitors.
It’s in how you’ve set your business, policies and processes up. It’s in the conversations you have with would-be clients. It’s in your ability to lead your own business. It’s in your writing on your blog and your content on your website. It’s the confidence you project when you meet with new clients (whether that’s in person or on the phone). It’s the professional image you present visually, verbally, in writing, even in the operation of your business.
All of these things combined become a living, dynamic demonstration–work sample, if you like–of your competence and expertise. While they are intangible, these are the things that clients will directly and powerfully correlate with your administrative ability and skill level. That might not sound right to you. It might not be logical. It is, nonetheless, absolutely true.
Consumers make purchasing decisions for emotional reasons. It’s a researched, proven and verifiable fact. They are also hugely influenced by instant, unconscious judgments they make within minutes of meeting you or visiting your site, as well as other subliminal messages they receive along the way. They will only look to rational “evidence” to back up their emotional decision. Nothing, and especially not any work sample, will have more effect on your ability to be perceived as worth every penny you charge than the things I’ve outlined above.
So the questions you should be asking yourself don’t have to do with what work samples to provide. Instead, the questions to really be pondering are:
What message is the visual presentation of your website communicating to your site visitors? Is it one of high-calibre competence and ability? Is it one of an established, truthworthy, credible and committed business? Will your audience have an affinity with it?
What about your written message? Does it portray a confident, qualified and skilled professional? Does it demonstrate an absolute understanding of the difficulties or problems your target market wants to solve? Does it expertly inform them about the solution you provide for those difficulties and problems? Does it convey warmth, trust, perhaps even the feeling that they are having a close and personal conversation with you? Does it portray, without any doubt, that you know exactly what you’re doing, are highly skilled and have a plan to help take away their burdens?
What about practical correlations? Is it flawless in its execution of spelling, punctuation and grammar or is it littered with typos and misspellings? Are the ideas coherently presented?
Keep this in mind as well… No one is going to come to your website and decide to work with you based on a brochure or desktop publishing sample. “Selling” professional services is a far more personal, intricate and involved dance. Most of the time, clients come to us through our networking efforts and word-of-mouth. And why is that? Because through our writing and interactions with them (or those who refer them), we have demonstrated our competence and instilled the know, like and trust factor. Your most well-placed efforts, with a great return on results, will be along those lines.