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How To DAZZLE Offline Networking Connections Into Going Virtual

Michelle Dale - Monday, October 17, 2011

On one of my recent VA Apprentice coaching calls I was asked a question by Natasha. Natasha has some potential clients who were offline contacts, but wanted to know how to sell them the concept of hiring virtual support.

Oh my... I would be MAD not to Go Virtual!

The important thing about this whole process is that it needs structure, too many times we feel intimidated by folk offline, because it’s hard to be put on the spot under pressure to deliver some sort of an answer to going virtual, which really isn’t that simple, especially when a lot of what you’re talking about is alien to the potential offline client. It’s like a bad case of speed dating only with potential clients and not potential marriage material, ‘convince me to go virtual in under 2 minutes’… Just like it’s impossible to fall in love and get married in under 2 minutes, it’s also impossible to help an offline client truly understand the benefits of going online in that span of time. Not only that, you really need to give working online more substance, so it’s taken more seriously by the offline community.

As some of you know I am very lucky to have built my business up over the last several years, without the need to leave my computer, I have not pursued offline networking. So this is my disclaimer, in terms of experience this advice is not tried and tested like a majority of the posts on this blog. But if I was to pursue offline networking or try to educate the offline world about the benefits of appointing my business, then this, in theory, is what I would do…

The Objective.

Offline potential clients who have never entertained the idea of hiring virtual support have 3 main questions:

Question 1. “What is a Virtual Assistant?”

This is pretty simple, don’t explain what a virtual assistant is, you need a nice short elevator pitch for your company, generally generic descriptions won’t do you any justice, be specific to what you and your company provides, and, if you’ve known the individual prior to your meeting, and you are familiar with their goals, share your vision of how you see yourself contributing to their success.

If you are really struggling, check out my free eBook The VA Business (no opt-in required) and you can give it away on your website – it has a section dedicated to explaining the world of virtual assistants.

Question 2. “How does it work?”

It’s hard for someone who has never worked over the Internet before with another person to grasp how it all happens. It’s almost like to much hassle for them to contemplate, the first concern you need to address is to demonstrate how easy it is, and how uncomplicated it is to work online. Most offliners are not aware of all the amazing online tools which are available, that will often times provide a much more productive working environment and could really hurtle their business into the 21st century. If you need inspiration for this section, or content to work from this PLR pack might come in handy, and also this one. Both cover reasons for hiring a VA and also technology, which plays an important role in how it all works.

Question 3. “Doesn’t this cost more?”

Because business owner rates are often higher than those of an employee, those who have never considered virtual support may have a tendency to do a direct comparison between the 2 options, because of this logic they would conclude that it’s more cost effective for their business to hire an employee, but as we know, this is not always the case, so the third concern you need to address is how working with a VA is more cost effective for their company, and not only that, independent contractors will often provide a much better service, because of their own business interests. The better the client’s business does, the better the VA’s business does. Article 7 in this PLR pack “Calculating The True Cost Of A Virtual Assistant” should help you with this one.

So now you have an insight into the mind of an offline client, and you can begin to prepare for ‘Operation 180′ – the turnaround. Let’s get started!

Step 1. Hook

You need a special offline networking only business card, offline professionals like tangible items. I would go to somewhere like moo cards and purchase some simple, yet classy wallet size business cards. I like the half-size rectangle ones because they’re different and will stick in peoples memories more than a standard size card. It doesn’t have to be totally fancy, just smart and represent your company in terms of colours or brand. Another cool thing about moo cards is that they have an option to print different images on different cards, so you can put together a handful of reasons why going virtual is awesome, and share those tips on different cards, think outside the box on this one :) – Essential items on the card will be a Name, Company Name, Contact Email, Telephone Number and a link to a page on your website, something like www.yourdomain.com/govirtual (more on this coming up).

Step 2. Presentation

Prepare a short presentation addressing the 3 questions, aim this ‘Go Virtual’ presentation specifically at the offline potential clients. Keep it really simple, no jargon, get to the heart of the matter. You’ll need to create a script to go with this, or you can freestyle the presentation, and transcribe the audio by recording the presentation using something like Screen Flow, so you can extract the audio files. I usually do this using Adobe Soundbooth, it’s very quick and easy, simply open the .mov file in Soundbooth and ‘save as’ an .MP3.

Then on your “/govirtual” webpage you will need to put the following things:

  1. A pdf download for the presentation. You could also upload the slides to a facility such as Slideshare and embed the slideshow onto your page.
  2. An mp3 download of the audio of the presentation.
  3. A video of the presentation.
  4. A printable white paper format of the presentation, you can use your script or transcription for this.

If you really wanted to go the extra mile you could create a CD/DVD containing all of the files. A great way to make professional CD’s/DVD’s from the comfort of your own home is to use the JewelBoxing system. This means that folk don’t even need to go online to be able to access their ‘Go Virtual’ information.

At the end of the webpage (and/or included in the CD/DVD files) I would also add in a “Why Choose Us” link, a “Getting Started Guide” and contact information.  Other alternatives are available which you can use to set up the webpage, you could try creating a squidoo page, a hub page, or even a flavors.me site, all of which are free hosted solutions for setting up webpages online.

Step 3. Demonstration

And the one final thing I would do, which could support your offline efforts is to schedule a meeting for a ‘live’ demonstration. Whilst video tutorials are great, sometimes people need a one-on-one, with a Q & A to really get to grips with the online world. Sometimes just showing people how it works is much better than trying to explain it. So you can get together to show the potential client how you work, and how to use the systems you use in your company. Of course for this you’ll ideally need a laptop and an Internet connection. Put together an agenda for the meeting, so the potential client will know what to expect.

For example:

  • Introduction.
  • How to set up a meeting or consultation online (e.g. Your appointment system).
  • How to request assignments (e.g. Your support system).
  • How to correspond (e.g. Your project management system).
  • How to share files (e.g. Dropbox).
  • How to collaborate (e.g. Google Apps, or other online services you use).
  • Accounting (Your billing system).

Step 4. Funnel

Once you have this, you are armed, I believe with the ultimate ‘Go Virtual’ information for offline networking, not too complicated, but still content rich enough to get your point across. You need to try and get the potential client into a funnel.

1. First you hand over the biz card from step 1.
2. Ideally, at the same time try to schedule in your ‘Demonstration’ meeting with them.
3. At the ‘Demonstration’ meeting, you then would secure the client.

The best way to handle offline networking is to take control of the situation and give it some sort of order. Don’t be put on the spot, explain that you would love to be able to help them understand the benefits of working online better, and go through the motions from step 4.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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