Archive for the ‘What Clients Want’ Category

Dear Danielle: How Do I Get Over the Fear that I’ve Forgotten Everything and Won’t Be Good Enough in Business?

Dear Danielle:

I sent an attorney the administrative support contract templates I purchased from your site. I contacted him knowing very well that it would be costly, but he offered to look them over at no cost. After not hearing back from him, I asked him once if he’d had a chance to look them over and he mentioned via email that he would look them over during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Well, as of today, I’ve yet to hear from him. Since he offered, I don’t want to bug him. I would really like to start marketing the business, but I’ve been hesitant because of this minor glitch. I’ve worked with contracts before and they looked fine to me, but contacted him because it’s smart to have an attorney look things over. I’m seriously thinking of writing him off and simply moving on. I really need to move forward with my business, but I’m nervous about working with my first client. I’m sure you can understand my dilemma and frustration. To be honest, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten everything I’ve learned in the last 15 years. Crazy, isn’t it? –DE

Not crazy at all. It’s scary starting a business and until we get things going and find our groove, nervousness, second-guessing, negative self-talk and low confidence are normal things we’ve all experienced. The trick is to power through them and go for it anyway!

So is that the only thing holding you up? If so, don’t give it another thought.

So you’re nervous about going live, so to speak. It’s perfectly understandable.

I’m willing to bet that waiting around for this attorney’s approval on the contracts is a way to keep dragging your feet (even if you might not consciously realize it). So I have two thoughts to offer you:

  1. Yes, I think you should write the attorney off at this point. It’s holding you up and when it does that, it’s no longer a kindness or a favor to you. Don’t allow empty promises to keep you from moving forward in your business. You were prepared to pay for this service originally. Find another attorney and pay him or her. Remember: You get what you pay for and you can’t expect much when it’s a freebie.
  2. For legal reasons I have to qualify my assurances by saying that you should always have an attorney look things over. That said, I work with attorneys, three of my uncles are attorneys, I developed these forms with my own attorneys and have been using them for over 12 years of business. So again, I want to encourage you to move forward. Waiting around for clearances and permissions and okays and not trusting in your own good counsel is going to keep you from rockin’ and rolling. Find another attorney to look them over when you get a chance, but in the meantime, you don’t have to wait on that to get started.

As far as being afraid you’ve forgotten everything, trust me you haven’t. It’s like riding a bike.

You’re simply experiencing the natural, usual fears that all of us have about putting ourselves out there.

We all have the inner self-critic in the back of our heads second-guessing everything we do. But you have to ignore that voice and plow forward.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to know everything.

Some things you might be rusty at, but you’ll pick them back up with use.

There will be other things you might have to learn.

And then there are going to be other things you simply don’t need or want to provide.

Sometimes, the best advice is to not even think about all the what-ifs you may encounter.

Focus instead on getting that first client, taking that first step.

It might even be helpful to have an honest conversation with any new client letting them know that while you are an administrative expert and can definitely help them, you are new to business and there are going to be things that you’re still learning as you go along.

This will clear the air and take some of the perfection pressure off you. I also think most clients will find it such openness and honesty very refreshing and earn you their even greater confidence.

You’ll tweak and hone and fix things as you go along, which is to be expected in any business regardless, but if you don’t ever get started, you won’t ever get anywhere.

Go for it!

How to Follow Your Own Act

One of the attorneys I’ve worked with over the years is a wonderful fellow.

Family man. Very personable. Knows his stuff. Gets done what he’s hired to get done. A real credit to his profession.

So what was always so disconcerting after he’d finish a matter for me was this utterly abrupt end to our communication.

And I mean A-brupt. Every time.

It’s crazy, because whenever I’d contact him again on something new, we’d pick up as if we’d just spoken yesterday.

Yet, at the end of each project, I couldn’t help feel as if I’d done something wrong.

Was I a horrible client? I don’t tend to think so because being an independent service provider myself, I’m always very conscious about how I treat other service professionals.

I know what I don’t care for in clients and I make sure I am the kind of client I would want for myself.

I clearly communicated my needs, made sure I understood what to expect and I always paid on time (and as you know, attorneys are not inexpensive).

But I’d never get so much as a thank you for my payment.

All communication would just end completely until the next time I had need to call on him.

And then it would be, “Hey, Danielle! How’s it going?” as it nothing was amiss and we were long-lost buddies.

So I got to thinking:

  • How many of you business owners out there are failing in your end game?
  • What are you doing to nurture your relationships?
  • Are you making sure clients and customers feel welcome to contact you again?
  • How are you helping them in between services?

In answer to these questions, here’s a list I drew up that I think will be very helpful to you if you are neglecting your all-important follow-up act. Clients want to know you like and appreciate them — before, during and after your interactions.

1. Thank your customers and clients. It seems simple enough, right? I mean, it’s just good manners. But as I shared in my story above, sometimes it’s the most obvious things that fall through the cracks. So be sure and thank your clients and customers. And I mean something beyond simply typing a line on your invoice template. Automate it or delegate it if you have to, but do go to the extra effort to thank people in a more deliberate way for their business at the conclusion of your interactions. Each and every time.

2. Ask them what’s next. Find out what projects or goals they’re thinking about currently or that are on the horizon. Not only is this good relationship-building, but it’s also a great way to find out where there are more opportunities to business together.

3. Be a knowledge center and resource. When you make the effort to know a bit more about your clients and target market, and where their interests are, you can pass on information that you think will be useful and of interest to them. You can do this individually and/or use the information to come up with relevant topics for your blog and/or ezine. “The list is the thing!” as they say, and I can’t stress enough how perfect an ezine and blog are for this task. As long as you are providing content that is of value to your clients/target market, this is a fantastic way to keep in touch, maintain connection and rapport, and create your own marketing pipeline. While you’re delivering all this great, helpful information to subscribers, it also gives you a platform to keep them informed about the goings-on in your business and remind them about services you provide that they might not know or remember (hint: refer back to #2).

4. Invite them into your networks. Hey, you’re not the only one looking to make connections. Inviting your clients and customers into your social/business networks is a nice gesture, gives them opportunities to make new contacts, and keeps them in your pipeline as well. They might even extend the favor back.

5. Be a referral source. Know what your customers do. Ask your clients what makes a good referral for them. And then spread the word. One good turn tends to result in another.

6. Get their feedback. Clients appreciate the opportunity to be heard. It shows them you care. Of course you want to know what you’re doing a good job, but don’t be afraid to look in the mirror if clients point out areas where you can stand to improve. This is pure gold to your business and you should be grateful for having those blindspots illuminated. Let them know how much their input means to you and that it will be used to make improvements whenever, wherever needed.

7. Let clients know how to refer business to you. Clients are people and most people like to help others. Clients who love their service providers enjoy spreading the word on their behalf. Tell them what makes a great referral for you and exactly who you are looking to work with. The more clear and specific you are, the easier you make it for them to send others your way and the more frequently they will do so.

RESOURCE: If you’re looking for a fantastic, comprehensive feedback form that can be adapted to any business, get our Client Feedback Form the ACA Success Store.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.

Creating a Communication Plan

Excellent communication (not good or okay, but GREAT) is vitally important in your business relationships, even more so when your mode of doing business is entirely virtual.

How well you communicate with prospects and clients directly impacts the trust and confidence you instill in them.

One aspect of beyond-excellent communication is consistently following through in your responses to emails and voicemails.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the occasional message or response that falls through the cracks; that happens to the best of us.

What I’m talking about is establishing consciously-devised standards and policies for handling communication your business.

This includes being in the habit of making sure those who correspond with you by email know that their message was received.

There is nothing more frustrating than sending someone a message and hearing nothing but crickets in response.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end, you know what I’m talking about.

You’re left wondering whether the recipient is taking whatever action might have been required, or if they even got the message at all.

This kind of poor communication is not only an instant trust-killer, it creates extra work for the folks trying to correspond and work with you.

It doesn’t put you in a good light and definitely doesn’t engender any confidence in your professional abilities.

Don’t do that to your clients and customers — or yourself, for that matter.

Here’s a quick checklist to improve your customer communications (and earn greater trust from your clients) today:

  1. Establish a timeliness standard in your business. Be disciplined about sticking with it. If you have a 24-48 hour turnaround policy, make sure you demonstrate a pattern of consistently responding to all messages within that timeframe.
  2. Inform clients and customers upfront. Include your communication policies in your new client welcome kits. Talk about it in your new client orientation meetings. If you are closed on weekends or holidays or any other particular days of the week, let clients and site visitors know that. Let them know exactly how communication is handled in your business, during what hours, and what the response turnaround policy is. When clients know how things work and what to expect ahead of time, they don’t worry and wonder so much in the meantime. It helps them relax and manages expectations.
  3. Create a management plan. Devise a system for keeping track of messages and following-up efficiently. Email programs and plugin these days have an extensive array of customizable tools and settings for organizing and prioritizing your inbox. Make good use of them.
  4. Respond to every message. Even if you can’t do anything right away, you should still acknowledge receipt of the message. A simple “Got it!” or “Thank you. I’ll let you know as soon as I take care of that” makes all the difference in the world to the person at the other end.

© Copyright by Danielle Keister for the Administrative Consultants Association. You are granted permission to republish this article only if used without alteration in its entirety with this copyright notice, title, article content, resource, and links left intact.

Dear Danielle: What About References?

Dear Danielle:

What do you think of prospective clients asking Administrative Consultants for references? –DE

I think when clients ask for references, they:

a) aren’t understanding the nature of the relationship, and/or

b) aren’t feeling the trust/competence/credibility that good demonstration of those things would give them.

Yes, we get irritated with some clients. Some clients are just looking for a free ride or intentionally trying to get what amounts to an under-the-table employee. I have no love for those types.

But other clients (I think probably the majority) are only misinformed because the industry at large is the one misinforming them and setting the wrong expectations.

I know we’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating: the VA industry is still stuck in employee-mindset.

People, you have got to stop with all the references and comparisons to employees. All that is accomplishing is making clients think that you are some new kind of employee. Your job isn’t to replace employees. Some businesses and some workloads simply require an employee.

We, on the other hand, are business owners. As such, we should be representing a higher, more professional level of skill sets for clients who want greater expertise and who have administrative workloads that don’t require an employee.

You have to show and tell clients how to properly seek out a professional (not an employee). They don’t necessarily know how to do that. When the industry at large stops marketing like an employee and comparing itself to employees, those requests for references will go down considerably.

But here’s the other part of the issue… when clients ask for references, a lot of times it’s because they just aren’t getting what they need to trust that they’re hiring a pro, an administrative expert.

Where they get that is through your presentation of yourself and your business.

That means, you have to demonstrate skill, competence, legitimacy, credibility and qualification in all that you do… in the visual design and display of your website, in your marketing message, in your speaking and writing, everything.

Because when you do that, you are instilling in them the sense of those things. They don’t feel the need then to look or ask for additional “proof.”

So if you are getting lots of requests for references, it’s a signal that your presentation, your image, your message, etc., may not be up to snuff.

That’s a good time to go through all your content and marketing message and see where you might be losing them. You might even want to get the help of a pro to give you feedback on where you might be falling short and help beef things up.

As far as marketing goes, it’s always a great idea to have testimonials from current or former clients. Provide full names, pictures, urls and contact info if the client agrees to that.

Be sure and intentionally use and reinforce the term “testimonials” by the way. Very important. You want to steer clients away from confusing you in any way with an employee.

So if a client asks for references, you could say, “Oh, you mean testimonials? Of course!” and you can then steer them in the direction of the testimonials on your website.

The other thing you can do is have a more elaborate or in-depth sheet that you can provide to clients who are further along in your consultation process.

If they still want to talk to someone in person, all you need is one or two clients who are agreeable to giving out their contact info and then save that info only for the most serious of prospects.

Remember, the last thing you want to do is inconvenience any of your past or current clients with constant phone calls and emails from other would-be clients so dole that info out judiciously.

At the same time, I will tell you that if you are meeting all the other tests of credibility and demonstration of skill and competence in everything else you do, requests for further references and “proof” are going to be little to none.

In over 12 years of business, I cannot remember a time that I have ever been asked for references.

Dear Danielle: Is Certification Necessary to Start an Administrative Support Business?

Dear Danielle:

I have wanted to start my own administrative support business for a while now. I’ve been with the same large corporation for 12 years, some of that time spent in the Medical Law department, as a human resources assistant and about six years as an executive assistant juggling multiple managers. Prior to that, I worked from a woman’s home as her assistant as she ran her own company bringing in over $400,000 gross per year. I have the experience, I have the drive and motivation; I learn quickly; I’m resourceful; I am able to work independently and have a record of excellent customer service and problem solving skills.  I am concerned that not having a certificate from a college may hinder client selection. From your experience, are degree-less virtual ssistants making a living out there? Do you know of a legitimate online Virtual Assistant certification? —CR

Fabulous! You’ve state just about everything you need to start an administrative support business: experience, drive, resourcefulness, ability to learn quickly and excellent customer service and problem-solving skills.

The only other requirement is going to be excellent business sense. Because running a business and doing the work and taking care of clients are two completely different things.

I’ve written extensively on the subject of certification. You do not need anyone’s piece of paper to “certify” that you have the administrative expertise to offer your services.

I say this as someone who has been in this business for nearly 15 years and never once been asked by a single client ever about certification.

Most of the certification programs in our industry are a joke. I’ve even had colleagues go through some of these programs where the administrators themselves can’t spell, litter their correspondence with typos, and get their own exams wrong.

Plus, there’s a proliferation of opportunists and exploiters out there who are just using these programs as personal sales vehicles. They’ll certify anyone willing to pay.

Save your money.

There is only one thing you need to prove to clients and that is done by simply demonstrating your qualifications, competence and service in all that you do.

Your site, your messages, your writing and articles… every bit of it is an example of your skills, expertise and professionalism.

When you demonstrate a professional level of expertise and competence, no one is going to ask you about certification. Those questions only come when prospective clients don’t see those things exampled on your website, your business image, your content and your communications.

When you DO demonstrate those things in all those places, you instill credibility and trust. They don’t need to ask because they already get that sense of your competence through all your displays of marketing, presentation and interaction.

No piece of paper will prove those things. And any certification you get becomes meaningless if you don’t demonstrate on a daily basis, in everything you do, the qualities that the certification is supposed to “prove.”

Here are some other posts I’ve written on the topic of certification and demonstrating competence:

Are You Trying Too Hard?
Demonstrate Your Competence
Dear Danielle: What Can You Tell Me About Credentialing?

 

It sounds like you’ve got all the qualifications and experience you need to open an administrative support business and offer a professional level of skill and service. Learning to be a good businessperson may take some additional skills and education, if you don’t have those already.

Don’t bother with certification, though. Just become a good student of business.

Read business books. Find business mentors (like me). Ask lots of questions.

If you do take some kind of course, I recommend those on business management and marketing, not a certification course.

Good luck to you and thanks for the great question. We need more highly skilled and competent people like you in our field. 🙂

A Great Lesson in Adding Value

You may remember my blog post from April 9 on Taking the Marketing & Referral Bull by the Horns.

In that post, I shared a great example of a service provider “asking for the business,” and how you could likewise follow-up and ask for referrals in your own administrative support business.

My client and I had such a great experience working with this service provider. He presented a very professional image. He was polished and business-like,  conducting all his interactions with us very professionally. And once the job was fully completed, he asked us for our feedback and referrals, which we were very happy to give.

Being in Washington, we don’t have much need for process service in Minnesota. We’ll definitely pass this fellow’s name around to those who might be able to use his services, but truth be told, those opportunities to do so will in all likelihood be very limited.

I’m sure he realizes this as well. And yet today, he offered another great example that Administrative Consultants can take a cue from.

I received an email from Brian, this service provider. He hoped we were doing well over here on the west coast and let me know that through his networking, he came across a process server in Tacoma that he wanted to recommend to us. He made it clear that he hadn’t actually worked with him, but his communication with this fellow was impressive enough that he wanted to send his contact info our way.

Why does this simple, unassuming email have such an impact?

Because in an industry that is rife with unprofessionalism, unbusinesslike operations and fly-by-nights, it offers a stellar example of how to nurture relationships, deliver fantastic customer service and provide added, personable value.

Brian is no dummy. He realizes that as out-of-state customers it not likely we’ll work together again any time soon. But he clearly understands networking and building relationships.

He knows that in a highly commoditized industry like process service, it’s the relationships he nurtures and the value he provides that get the word out about his company and have it standing heads and tails above the rest.

Administrative Consultants will do well to heed this example. ;)

Taking the Marketing and Referral Bull by the Horns

In my own practice, I had a wonderful experience recently working with an out-of-state vendor.

One of my clients needed to serve a lawsuit we’re handling in another state and I needed to find a process server for the job.

The service wasn’t entirely straightforward, but the process server handled everything in stride and followed up very diligently and with great attention to detail.

Once completed, he sent his invoice which we promptly paid.

Afterward, we got a very nice message from him thanking us for the business and speedy payment. He went on to ask us this:

“I was wondering if you would please spread my contact information around to others in the profession who might need service done in Minnesota. Also, if you have a chance, would you be so kind as to write a review/referral that I could post on my website and/or my marketing materials.”

I was more than happy to oblige him and sent him a fabulous testimonial.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because it’s such a fantastic example of taking the bull by the horns and asking for what you want or need in business.

The way he worded his request was perfect in its simplicity, sincerity and directness.

Administrative Consultants can and should be doing the same thing in their businesses.

Here are some pointers to help you do that:

  1. First, make sure your loves the work and service. No one is going to recommend you to others if this isn’t the case (and asking for their referral in this event will be even more off-putting) so be sure to elicit feedback and make sure they are happy and satisfied before asking anything of them.
  2. Don’t ask for referrals/testimonials/recommendations prematurely. Again, this can be very offputting. If the work is project-based, don’t ask in the middle of things. Wait until it is fully completed and your client is happy before asking. If the client is one you work with continuously (such as on a retained basis), make it part of your process to elicit feedback and testimonials at least every six months.
  3. Ask for what you want, just like this business owner did. On a regular basis and at the end of every project, ask clients for their recommendations and to spread the word about your service. You act proactively on behalf of clients; do the same for yourself!
  4. Make it as easy for clients to refer you. This fellow’s request made it very clear who we should refer (“anyone needing process service in  Minnesota.”). The more you have your target market specifically defined, the easier and more frequently folks will refer to you and spread the word.

Now go get those referrals and recommendations!

Dear Danielle: Is Certification Necessary?

Dear Danielle:

Do many people in our industry feel that professional certifications such as PMP, MOS or others like it help in landing new clients? –SM

As someone who has been in this business for over 12 years and never once been asked by a client about certifications, I don’t feel they are necessary.

Some food for thought…

  1. Our industry designations don’t mean a whole lot to clients. They have no way of differentiating. The terms and acronyms we use are industry jargon to them, which means you may as well be speaking Greek. (Heck, I don’t even know what those designations are that you mentioned!). They don’t have any meaningful bearing or relevance in getting clients.
  2. Unfortunately, the impact of the good, reputable certification programs in our industry is diminished by the fact that there are untold numbers of opportunists and exploiters these days who create “certification” programs as personal sales vehicles to earn money and will “certify” anyone who can pay. Client’s don’t know how to tell the difference. Shoot, for all they amount to, you could create your own “certification” graphic and slap it on your site, and it would have about the same effect.
  3. No piece of paper or seal is going to ensure competence. The absolute best credential you can show clients is that competence that you demonstrate in everything you do, every presentation/image of your business, and every interaction you have with potential clients. That demonstration is the one thing that will engage both the rational and emotional senses in clients that make them feel safe and confident in a particular provider. That demonstration is the proof in the pudding, so to speak.

My advice… save your money.

You went into this business, presumably, because you have a body of administrative experience, know-how and masterful skills that you paid your dues to earn and didn’t come overnight. You don’t need to purchase some silly seal of approval to prove that.

Prove it by demonstrating your skill and qualification on your website, in your communications, in your marketing collateral, and in your participation and interactions with your market. That’s what will “seal the deal” and show prospective clients you really are and can do what you say.

You might be interested in a few of my other blog posts on this topic:

Are You Trying Too Hard?

Demonstrate Your Competence

What Can You Tell Me About Credentialing?

Thar’s Gold in That There Client Feedback

I often sense that those in our industry are afraid of hearing not-so-complimentary feedback.

Which is too bad because that kind of information is good as gold to your business.

You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge or that you may not even know is wrong.

So when clients who are otherwise rational, thoughtful people take the time to give their honest input on things that are offputting to them, we should listen.

I’m not saying we have to throw ourselves off a cliff, much less drop everything and completely change our businesses or approach, at the first hint of any discontent, nor that every client’s personal beef is legitimate.

You do have to know how to discern between valid, reasonable gripes and those that are just ridiculous.

For example, a client who complains that an Administrative Consultant won’t design their website and provide shoppingcart support (because that’s like asking a plumber to fix their car), much less lump it in with their administrative support, is nothing but a cheapskate who wants something for nothing.

That’s not a gripe you need to pay any mind to because it’s like expecting a plumber to fix their car. That’s not the business we’re in. They’re barking up the wrong tree.

However, when a client has repeated unsatisfactory experiences and complaints that aren’t outrageous, that tells us there is a disconnect going on.

If you belong to my association and/or are a regular reader of this blog, you’ve frequently heard me call this the “misalignment of expectations and understandings.”

It would behoove us not to listen and examine this feedback to see where we can bridge the gaps.

That disconnect might be related to the client (and our marketplace as a whole) not knowing how to choose the right administrative partner.

They might have only shopped by price instead of skills, qualification, fit and value.

They might be trying to make an employee out of you (which is the wrong expectation entirely, but which signals that you haven’t done your job of educating them properly).

They might have too much on-demand needs or expectations. Their business and workload might be at a level where we are simply not the right solution and they really need an employee.

All of these kinds of things point out that our industry still has much work to do in the way of properly educating and setting expectations in our marketplace.

The other side of that coin is that we ourselves need to understand the business we’re in so we can recognize the ramifications of setting wrong or unsustainable expectations and the subsequent consequences that leads to.

For example, too many people in our industry are telling our marketplace that they have the same level of responsibilities as an in-house employee.

That’s insanity and a ridiculous, impossible expectation to set in clients, not to mention a surefire recipe for failure of the service provider-client relationship.

Clients need to either hire an employee, or seek an alternative.

But as with any alternative (which means “not the same things as”), there are going to be trade-offs and differences in how you work together.

I recently heard from a business owner who has tried unsuccessfully working with several people in our industry for the past five years whose feedback I found to be very valid.

We actually ended up having a really nice conversation on the phone. He is a perfectly nice man who has very reasonable concerns and has had difficulty getting his business needs taken care of.

One of the things I educated him about was that trying to make an employee out of someone in the administrative support business (business being the operative word here) doesn’t work and in fact is illegal.

For that reason, he simply has to take his idea of on-demand stuff out of his expectations. Because that’s just not how things work in a business-to-business relationship.

Even if an administrative service provider (and it’s usually a newbie) were to take that work on like that, eventually as her practice grew, it would become more and more difficult, and eventually impossible, for her to sustain the ability to work together in that capacity.

Ours is about leveraged, strategic administrative support, not beck-and-call instant support like an employee.

We also talked about working with the right professional for the job.

I referred back to my plumber/car mechanic analogy: If someone needs their car fixed, why are they calling a plumber?

I’ll often hear from clients who weren’t happy with the website they had a virtual assistant design for them, and I’m have to be frank with them: Well, what did you expect? They aren’t web designers. Just because someone owns Photoshop or Dreamweaver doesn’t make them a designer. Why didn’t you go to the proper professional in the first place?

Or they’ll complain that they didn’t get quality writing out of their virtual assistant, and I have to ask them: Well then, why didn’t you hire a real copywriter? These people aren’t writers. That’s not the business they’re in. REAL writers/copywriters know what business their in and advertise themselves as such. They don’t market themselves as some kind of cut-rate gopher or jack of all trades.

That’s why it’s important to understand it’s important to know what business you’re in and what you’re not. Trying to make a mechanic out of a plumber is not going to help anyone.

I addressed his complaint that virtual assistants often don’t have the skills they advertise. I agree with him. I’ve experienced some of the same things.

I’ve worked with many over the years who should not be in business taking anyone’s money.

We’re an unregulated industry and there are too many people looking to make a fast buck who don’t have the background or skills to be doing this work who can hang out a shingle overnight.

But this is also why it is the client’s responsibility to choose properly.

If they want to take the cheap way out and expect five star skill, qualification and service at a McDonald’s price, they are living on Fantasy Island.

These are things he was also realizing himself.

I gave him some ideas on what to look for (for one thing, someone who has well thought out business policies and procedures for working with clients; even someone who has the skills, but not the business foundation and systems, is going to have equally unhappy clients), how to leverage the support in a better way, and how to discern when someone is not the right provider for the work and to seek other solutions instead.

After talking with me, he changed his mind about being entirely through with our industry.

Once we bring expectations and understandings into alignment, our industry and clients and the marketplace at large will be more on the same page and much happier with each other.

Okay, here’s this client’s feedback…

“Danielle, I am hoping you can read my email without trying to strangle me!  I’ve been a subscriber for several months to your newsletter. But I think I am done working with Virtual Assistants. And I have worked with various Virtual Assistants for five years. Spent a lot of money, didn’t really get too far.

“I’ll admit, the first two years, I was a major part of the problem.  I was not very clear on what I wanted the Virtual Assistant to do. But for nearly the past three-plus years, I’ve had enough experience where I can say that many Virtual Assistants:

  • Do NOT have the skills they advertise.
  • Do not have the expertise with products and resources they say they do.
  • Rarely complete work on time.
  • Have a difficult time estimating how much will be involved in a project, which slows everything else down.
  • Suffer from the loneliness factor. When they get someone on the phone, it becomes a gabfest…and I’m paying!
  • In constant “education mode.” They need to spend all weekend getting up to speed on a tool you need them to use (which they professed they had working knowledge of).
  • You become their guinea pig

“I have also found that if you are somewhat flexible in deadlines, a “nice guy” or easygoing, the other clients of the Virtual Assistant will soon take (re-allocate) much of your Virtual Assistant’s prime working time.

“It’s also (to me) become a major red flag when a Virtual Assistant volunteers “Oh, I can do that, too!” (like answer your phones).

“Because of all the reasons above, I can no longer find Virtual Assistants to be a viable option at $45/hour. Many Virtual Assistants are far too over-priced. And I have paid Virtual Assistants amounts like $30, $35 and $40/hour. You do NOT get what you pay for.”

Let’s discuss… what do you think about all this?

Saying Anything to Get the Business Is a Fast-Track to Downfall

You’ve seen websites like this: newer virtual assistants who are so eager for business they’ll make all kinds of unrealistic promises in order to get clients, any clients, to bite.

They practically promise they can stop the sun from setting and the rain from falling.

Some of the claims and promises they make fall only this short of practically telling clients they’ll peel their grapes and lick their boots.

They don’t understand that they are creating expectations in clients that will be extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to live up to or manage, and thereby set themselves up for failure. (not to mention, let down the clients who depended on them).

It neither serves nor honors clients (or yourself) to say anything to get the business. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Denise Aday wrote a fantastic article that speaks to this kind of straight-talk: Tough Love Accountability: 4 Golden Rules

Now that’s honesty. Guess what’s great about honesty? It means it is trustworthy.

It’s important to be forthright and realistic about what you can and can’t (or won’t do) for clients and the limitations of your service You want to set healthy boundaries and expectations.

A trustworthy person can be counted on to be consistently truthful and reliable in their words and actions.

Clients of trustworthy people know that they will get straight-up advice and feedback that will truly help them move forward in their business and get things done.

Those who can’t be truthful and honest about reality are often people-pleasers.

People-pleasers think they are being nice. But what’s nice or honorable about dishonesty? Because that’s really what it boils down to: dishonesty.

They’ll say anything just to be nice or get the business, and in the end, there’s nothing nice or helpful about that.

When you lift the facade, people-pleasers are just selfish, self-absorbed and concerned only with their own interests. That’s certainly not client-centric.

Others who can’t be truthful about reality are suffering from a scarcity complex.

Scarcity thinking and poverty mentality are killers, folks.

If you are saying anything to get business, you are letting fear-based thinking get the best of you. It’s saying to yourself, I’m not worthy of ideal clients who respect me and value what I do for them. It’s saying to the universe that you don’t deserve clients who respect and value you and will treat you well.

This kind of thinking is powerfully debilitating.

It will prevent you from growing a business that serves and honors both you and your clients, one that is sustainable, manageable, and will attract the right kind of long-term clients who will truly honor and respect the valuable assistance you provide for them.

Don’t let fear-based thinking guide your words or actions.

Trust that when you instill realistic, reasonable and respectful expectations and are reliably, consistently truthful and upfront, you’ll attract more ideal clients.

You, your business and your clients will reap the benefits a hundredfold. You’ll have better clients and a happier life and business.