Tag Archives: support

Some of the earliest adopters of virtual assistants were speakers and authors, business coaches, real estate professionals, and entrepreneurs just starting their businesses. Those groups of people still work with VAs, but today industry seems to matter less. Virtual assistants are very popular with entrepreneurs and small business owners across many sectors.

At Assistant Match, we have clients ranging from bestselling authors to doctors to IT companies to consulting firms to non profits. We have provided virtual assistants to manufacturing companies as well as dog walkers.

Regardless of industry, most people who work with a VA have a few things in common.

  1. They need additional help in their business but do not need a full time employee.
  2. They are comfortable with the idea that they may never meet their assistant face to face.
  3. They are more interested in results than the traditional way of structuring a work team.

It’s wonderful when someone comes to a virtual assistant fully comfortable with the 3 points above. That isn’t always the case, so don’t hesitate to have the conversation that will help flesh those out. Some clients love a VA who can help educate them on how to work together and how s/he can best be of service.

Working with a virtual assistant or a virtual team of assistants can be a win/win for both the business owner, who can outsource specific tasks and increase their own productivity, and the professional virtual assistant who has the expertise and time to do exactly what you need help with.

It’s usually fairly simple to start working with a virtual team member. In most cases, phone and email will get the working relationship started. For some people, phone calls and emails suffice if you don’t have complex requests. Examples are when you need a VA to do research, make phone calls on your behalf, format documents, or update spreadsheets. Normally documents can be emailed back and forth and conversations can happen by phone or email.

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The options seem endless when thinking about what you can delegate to a virtual assistant. But what are the items that will help you reach your business goals the fastest?

Identify where you spend your time.

Often we are so busy being busy that we don’t really know where our days go. For a week, document where you spend your time.

Example: 1 hour returning emails about general FAQs on your product/service, 5 hours networking, 2 hours sending follow up emails and phone calls up from networking, 45 minutes entering new contacts
into database, 4 hours doing research projects, 2.5 hours writing articles, 30 minutes uploading new blog posts to wordpress, etc.

Add to the list things you’d like to accomplish.

These are items that are always on your To Do list or are looming projects that don’t get done. Maybe you don’t have time, interest, or ability to complete them. Add them to the list.

Example: start or update your blog, social media updates, reach out personally to each of your clients, create a new product to sell, upgrade your website, enter info from all the business cards you have been collecting into a database, etc.

Congratulations! You have identified the important items that must get done in your business. The next step is to determine what specifically makes most sense for you to delegate.

Prioritize what to delegate first… What do you HATE to do?

Identify the things you really dislike doing. Delegating these items will ensure they will be complete in a timely manner, you won’t feel guilty about putting them off, and you won’t feel frustrated when you have to do them.

Example: These items are different for everyone. Common tasks we have heard are bookkeeping, writing, research, event coordination, database management, following up on late invoices

What is possible for someone else do?

Mark the items that YOU do not need to do. Usually 80% of your list falls into this category. You are not committing to delegating these items, but you are identifying things that could be given to someone else. Remember, just because you are used to doing something yourself does not mean you are the only person who can do it.

Example: scheduling your appointments, research projects, placing phone calls on your behalf, sending follow up emails, project management, client communication, bookkeeping

Find recurring items that are time sucks

What responsibilities that take up a lot of your time? These are essential details but they keep you from spending time on the most important parts of your business. They are things that must be done daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

Example: posting blog articles, sending emails, research projects, scheduling appointments, formatting documents, data entry, replying to email inquiries, updating spreadsheets

Identify things that will let you generate income the fastest.

What needs to be done in order to increase income the fastest and most consistently for you? Identify these areas and focus on them! You can either have a virtual assistant take on the responsibilities or you can delegate the timesucking duties you have been doing that have kept you from the income producing activities.

Example: product development, customer service, follow up on leads, sending invoices, set up online store, marketing help

Start small but strategically.

By this point you have identified many items that can be delegated to someone. Prioritize this list and come up with the few duties that you will ask a virtual assistant to do first. Start with just a few items so you can provide feedback and be sure things are going smoothly. Select the responsibilities that will make the biggest impact for you – the ones that will help you increase income, give you the most time back in your day, or help you regain balance and sanity.

Happy Delegating!

When working with a virtual assistant or team, giving and receiving feedback is a key to success. Create a system and expectation for doing this from the beginning of any work relationship.

If you are working with someone new to your support team, commit to feedback frequently. With an established team, schedule time for feedback after any big project or event, or at least once a quarter. This allows you to constantly assess and improve within your company.

Pluses and Deltas
The feedback process we suggest at Assistant Match is called “pluses and deltas.”
Plus (+) is the symbol for positive
Delta (Δ) is the symbol for change

When providing feedback with pluses and deltas, you identify both the positive and what can and should be changed in order to improve. This is a solution-oriented process. You do not dwell on things that were “bad” but instead, concentrate on what can be changed to make it “better” in the future.

This feedback process allows for everyone to be heard in a safe, constructive environment.

Let’s take an example and walk through the steps. A virtual assistant completed a research project related to customer leads. This is the first time the research was conducted by anyone other than the company president or sales representative. The president (P), virtual assistant (VA), and sales rep (SR) take part in the feedback process.

Step 1: BRAINSTORM PLUSES & DELTAS
Set a time limit. You may want to allow 5 minutes to brainstorm pluses and another 5 minutes to brainstorm deltas. When doing this with a group, select one person to record (type) every comment, but do not take time to ask questions or discuss yet. If someone has a question on something that is said, ask for it to be “starred” so you revisit it later. Over time this will become a natural process that can happen less formally.

Always provide feedback on the PROCESS, RELAIONSHIPS, and RESULTS

+ Pluses

  • SR is able to concentrate on converting sales and is able to get more done in a day since didn’t have to spend time doing research (SR)
  • VA liked the amount of detailed search criteria SR provided (VA)
  • 24-hour requested deadline was appropriate for the project (VA)

Δ Deltas

  • A 3-hour turn around time would be ideal (SR)
  • Data entered into the database rather than in a Word document makes for faster action and better sharing of information (P)
  • Faster feedback helps VA be more effective during project (VA) * (starred)

Step 2: REVIEW LIST
Read each item out loud if the list is longer than 10 items. Be sure no items were mistakenly omitted and there are no additional ones to add.

  • P wants to add that she liked that VA used a different website than the ones suggested in order to find the necessary info on a more difficult lead (P)

Step 3: CLARIFY
Most of the plusses and deltas will be self-explanatory. Take time to clarify any “starred” items. If conflicting items appear on the pluses and deltas lists, hear the view of both sides so everyone is on the same page. You may want to flesh out an idea that was brainstormed during Deltas to make it more thorough and to discuss if it is actionable.

  • VA explains that if SR can give feedback on the quality of her research findings when she is in the beginning stage of the project, she will be sure the data will be helpful to SR so she doesn’t waste her time researching items that will not be useful
  • SR clarifies that a fast turn-around time will allow for more sales conversions. VA clarifies that with her other responsibilities, she cannot make the research top priority, but she can attempt to complete it in less
    than 24 hours when her workload allows

Step 4: COMMIT
Identify items from both lists that need action. Define that action. The appropriate person commits to it and a timeline is set if applicable.

  • SR will continue to provide the same amount of information and search criteria to VA for future research projects, and VA will provide the same amount of detailed search results
  • VA will enter information in the company database rather than a Word document
  • SR will do his best to not make urgent requests, VA will immediately estimate how quickly she can get the research project complete, and SR will make himself available to provide quick answers and feedback whenever possible

With this process, you and your support team will be on the same page and will be able to move forward faster and in the direction you desire. Be sure to capture this process in a Word document or someplace else, and commit to acting on the deltas.

Do you perform any of these when you could be doing revenue producing activities instead?
These are some of the things most commonly delegated to a virtual assistant.

Organization and Maintenance

  • Schedule appointments and manage calendars
  • Enter/scan business card information into contacts database
  • Data entry
  • Create and manage online storage/collaboration space
  • Scan documents for electronic filing
  • Create and manage spreadsheets
  • Set up and manage databases
  • Create forms
  • Format documents
  • Organize email folders
  • Track expenses
  • Track inventory
  • Update rosters
  • Organize receipts
  • Set up and sync online calendars
  • Maintain process and procedure manuals
  • Conduct online research projects
  • Bookkeeping

Coordination

  • Project coordination and management
  • Meeting/event planning and logistics
  • Trade show coordination
  • Coordination of printing and ordering materials
  • Coordination of speaking engagement details
  • Schedule appointments
  • Handle complaints or billing disputes

Marketing and Growth

  • Create email marketing template
  • Create autoresponders
  • Website updates
  • Create and distribute e-newsletters or print newsletters
  • Create and distribute press releases
  • Create and revise PowerPoint presentations
  • Compile charts and graphs for reports
  • Online article publishing
  • Create or revise marketing materials
  • Create and manage social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.)
  • Update blog
  • Identify other blogs on which to comment
  • Proofread, edit and write articles
  • Implement online marketing plans
  • Identify potential partners, events, speaking engagements, etc.

Customer Service and Relationship Building

  • Draft/send email or print correspondence
  • Address, hand-write, and send cards (holiday, birthday, thank you)
  • Place phone calls on your behalf
  • Send gifts
  • Create and send email newsletters
  • Address all incoming requests and questions for the company
  • Request and provide information to customers and partners
  • Conduct client satisfaction surveys
  • Connect with people via social media accounts

Sales Assistance

  • Send materials to sales prospects
  • Schedule appointments and follow up calls
  • Enter contacts and record meeting notes in CRM
  • Format, send, and track proposals
  • Format, send, and track contracts
  • Research leads and competitors
  • Call companies to identify the appropriate contact
  • Create, send, and track invoices
  • Process payments
  • Coordinate shipping logistics for products

Personal Assistance

  • Travel research and reservations
  • Online research
  • Shop/reserve products online
  • Research products and services
  • Make dinner reservations
  • Purchase gifts and cards
  • Online grocery shopping
  • Coordinate carpool duties

To be as productive as possible, identify items you are currently doing that are not the best use of your time, and delegate them to the appropriate people.

To find the right virtual assistant to help you with some of the items above, contact Assistant Match at info@assistantmatch.com or 800-403-5506, or start the process online at assistantmatch.com.