A while back I wrote a post regarding the various methods a VA can use to sell time in his or her VA business. I have also used, and still use these methods to sell time in my virtual assistant business for administrative, creative and technical services.
When I officially started out as a VA in November 2007, I had found that a lot of VAs didn’t publish their rates online, and that you had to contact the VA and they would provide you with a quote based on your requirements. Whilst I can see why they were doing this, because every client is different and requires different services, I always first put myself in the clients’ shoes, and I thought that if I was looking for particular services, and I needed to find someone to help me with in my business, I would like to see a rate or some form of pricing on the website, so I could gauge the price point that the VA worked at, and I would be able to tell if they were able to come in on my budget, and for this reason, I always have and always will publish my rates. It saves me time, and it saves the potential client time too.
Not only that, I think it’s favourable for the potential client browsing the site to see that you charge all of your clients the same rate for the same service, no matter what that rate or service is. There's no doubt, from my experience, that remaining transparent in your online business will help you to quickly build trust with clients, and by fixing a set rate or package, you can then have a basis to work from and explore how you and the client are able to benefit each other.
THE IMPORTANT PART OF CHOOSING YOUR RATES
First off, I always advise that any VA should always charge their ideal rate, by this I mean the rate they need to earn in order to achieve their financial goals. At the end of the day, if you come across a client who can’t afford it, they say they can get it cheaper elsewhere, or who's simply unwilling to pay it, then it just means that they're unable to work with you, it’s really no big deal in the grand scheme of things, you tell them you're sorry you couldn't be of service, and if they change their mind, to come back to you in future.
The reason why you need to be generous (to yourself) with your rate, is because one day you may want to expand your team, you may want to offer discounts and packages and you may want to offer certain clients some extra perks for working with you, and the reason why you may want to consider doing this is because the value of the relationship with that client, may have much more value than the monthly invoice or pricing structure.
WHY RELATIONSHIPS HOLD MORE VALUE THAN YOUR PRICING…
So what do I mean by this, and how does the value I place in my relationships translate into a higher earning potential for my business?
I work really hard at what I do, at providing a virtual assistant service which I continuously strive to improve and cultivate, but I also love it – and there's no way I would have come this far without having the passion and drive for being a Virtual Assistant. In addition to this, I work very hard at developing my relationships. For example, I periodically send out emails with special offers or discounts for my clients and subscribers – do I do this because I need the business? Actually I don’t, because whilst I'm happy to take in new clients, I have a steady stream of ongoing business and new enquiries daily, I actually do it as a gesture, it’s my way of saying “Thank You” to my subscribers and clients, and showing them that I appreciate their business and I do not, in any way, take it for granted.
A lot of my existing clients appreciate this gesture, and take advantage of it, and if I decide to place a discount on their invoice – it doesn’t go unnoticed, and I do this because I value them and their ongoing business.
So this is one example of where working for FREE comes in... well, not entirely.
Some time back, I embarked on a venture with a client who has a membership product, and as his VA, I had invested my resources into learning how to master using the product so I could potentially provide services for the client’s members – I saw a great opportunity. I approached him with the idea that we could work together, and by doing this, he could provide additional support for his members through my services, retain the members he may lose from them not being able to use his product for whatever reason, time or ability, and I could potentially increase my client base.
We decided to see how it went, and I would take a fixed commission off of his invoice on the services I provided him with, based on services I sold to his members who he referred to me, and less than a year on, I now have a new source of referrals which has provided a healthy client base for the services we provide in the system, and it has increased my income by several thousands of pounds a month, but it has decreased this particular client’s invoice considerably, very shortly, I think I may even end up paying the client! But the point of this story is to demonstrate that you can have the potential to do much more business, even in some cases like mine where it means working for free for the client, however the income which comes from the referrals is worth several thousands of pounds a month more, than his invoice alone would have been.
Being a smart virtual assistant is all about thinking outside the box... the relationship I have with my client has mutual value - my client is happy, the members are happy, my new clients are happy, I'm happy & everyone's doing profitable ongoing business as a result!
If I hadn't been transparent with my rates, there could be a fair chance that this client may not have contacted me.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2011 AND UPDATED IN AUGUST 2020.