The struggle is real. You’ve decided you want to launch your virtual assistant business. You’ve figured out what services you rock at, you’ve done all the right things. But shoot - finding and getting clients is like shooting fish in a barrel. And now you’re frustrated, your family is telling you to go find a “real” job because you know, that online life ain’t real. You’ve got bills starting you in the face and a family to feed and all the while you’re spending countless hours looking for that first big break - the one client that will start it all.
You know what I’m talking about, right? Been there and got the t-shirt to prove it.
So let’s kill one myth right now: that is, you can’t make a living as a virtual assistant. Don’t believe it because that’s a big, fat lie. You can make it. And if you don’t have anyone encouraging you right now, well, here I am to be your head cheerleader.
So, let’s take the struggle out of the equation and let’s talk about how to find the right client and how to seal the deal. Ready?
Identify your Ideal Client
I’m going to use dating sites as an example. Stay with me, okay? There really is a point. If you were to use a dating site (hey, not judging!), you wouldn’t just log on and start talking to anyone, would you? You’d probably have an idea of the perfect mate: what he/she looks like, their hobbies, likes and dislikes, that kind of thing. You actually pre-screen before you even make contact with them.
Approach finding clients in the same way. Define your ideal client. What type of client do you want to work with? A client/virtual assistant relationship is kind of like dating. You want to share some of the same interests and the same values. Otherwise, the relationship just won’t work.
One thing you need to do before you even start pitching is to figure out: who is your ideal client? If you don’t take the time to figure that out, you’ll just be throwing spaghetti to the wall and hoping something sticks.
Take a moment and create your ideal avatar. What does that like and why should you do this? How does this all help? For example, my ideal client is a female, age 25 and older who makes less than $25,000 per year. Their interests include reading, spending time with their family and thrift store shopping. What does that tell me and how does this information help me? Well, when I create products and services, I know that my clients may have limited resources to plunk down on a high-priced course but they love to learn. So I price my services and products accordingly.
Perfect your Pitch
Okay, you’ve identified the right client and you’ve found what seems like a really good match. Now it’s time to pitch your bad self and tell them you are the one for the job. How do you do that?
Let’s walk through the steps:
- Do your research. Before you get all excited, do you fit the bill? Do you meet the requirements? It’s frustrating to potential clients to sift through hundreds of proposals to only find the applicant doesn’t have the required skills. If the job posting says “required skills”, trust me, that’s what they mean. Make sure to visit their website, if they have one, and learn more about the business.
- How can you help their business? Business owners want to know you “get” their business. Determine their pain points and come up with solutions - you’ll be a rockstar in their eyes, even before they have met you!
- Now it’s time to put together your proposal. If you’re having trouble coming up with what to say, feel free to download my sample proposal. Just make sure to tweak it for your needs.
- Make sure to proof it. You’re an online business owner, for goodness sakes. You want to come across as the professional you are and misspelled words will get your proposal deleted faster than you can say, “Boo!” I highly recommend installing Grammarly (the free version) on your computer to catch those pesky mistakes but nothing beats a second pair of eyes. Ask someone to take a look before you...
- Hit SEND!
- Follow up: do not follow up the next day to see if the potential client received your email. Wait 48 hours. Sometimes emails do go into the spam folder and you want to make sure they receive your proposal.
Okay, you’ve done quite a bit. You’ve identified the perfect client. You’ve sent a bomb proposal. And boom! You just got the email you’ve been waiting for - they want to talk to you! This is called the discovery call stage. Peel yourself from the ceiling because you’ve still got some work to do, friend. You aren’t done.
It’s time to seal the deal. What does that look like?
- If the lead didn’t propose a time to meet, send a meeting invite. Google Calendar is pretty easy to use to schedule meetings. Click here for instructions on how to set up a meeting invite in Google Calendar. Calendly and Acuity are also great options. Make sure to include the meeting location. I use Appear.in but Zoom and Skype work also. I’ve found clients prefer video calls as opposed to phone calls. Why? They want to see who they might be working with and you can create a greater connection via video.
- On the day of the meeting (yippee!!), get ready - check your microphone, make sure you’ve got your notes ready, what questions you’re going to ask, and by all means, stay calm. Even if you’re shaking in your boots, try not to let it show. Practice and preparation will help a lot when it comes to being nervous. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel.
- It’s showtime, baby! Razzle dazzle the potential client with your knowledge of their business and how you can solve their problems. Take notes and save questions for the end when they will usually ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”
- This is probably the most important step: within 24 hours, send a thank you note. Seriously - clients love this! I’ve gotten gigs just by doing this alone. Thank them for their time but also use your notes to summarize the meeting and sharing your solutions to their problems.
Then...you wait. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait too long before you have the answer you want:
Now you can dance because you deserve it! But make it a short one because we’re not quite done. There’s the whole contract thing.
Note: never, ever, ever work without a contract. I don’t care if the terms have been talked about in an email or the video call. That’s not a contract. Judge Judy will tell you the same thing. I love me some Judge Judy!
- Send the contract. Make sure to outline your terms clearly, such as your rate, any deliverables and due dates, etc. If you don’t have a contract, you can generate one for free here. Save it as a PDF and use a service like HelloSign to get the client’s signature. Always have the client sign FIRST! Why? If you sign it first, the client could change the terms (say instead of working for $25 per hour, the client changes it to $10 per hour) and you’d then be in a sticky situation. Yes, it has happened. Protect yourself and your business.
- Once the contract has been signed by both parties (whoo hoo!), send the invoice for the deposit or first month (whatever has been agreed upon and outlined in your contract). I recommend Wave for this. You can also use Paypal for Business or Freshbooks.
- You’ve got a signed contract and you’ve been paid for the first month. Now go ahead and send the welcome packet that will outline your business hours, your processes, how you can be contacted, things like that. This blog post goes into detail about what you need in your welcome packet.
- If your client is up for it (client - that’s got a good sound to it, doesn’t it?), schedule an onboarding call. While not totally necessary (some clients just want to get started as quickly as possible), during the onboarding call you can hammer out any other details not already discussed.
That’s it, friend. You’ve identified your ideal client, found them, pitched the perfect proposal and sealed the deal. You rock! The process will become easier as you sign more and more clients. And I’m confident you will.
Make sure to download these resources to help you through the process. Good luck!