How to focus your effort to reel in high quality leads with Worksheet
When we asked members of our Virtual Assistant Studio Facebook group what they were struggling with, the most popular answer was ‘Finding Leads’.
It’s a universal issue and one that every one of us faces, no matter how long we’ve been in the business. Whether you’re just getting started, researching potential niche fields or building on your success, you need to find new leads regularly and nurture them until they become clients. When we run into trouble, sometimes it’s because of our mindset. Or maybe we have work to do on our ideal client profile, or perhaps we need to change tactics.
The good news is that finding qualified leads doesn’t have to be a tortuous, fruitless or drawn out process with no reward. When you do it right, it energizes you, you connect with people who need you and your business grows significantly.
We compiled our best tips we use on a regular basis and explain how to apply them in your practice.
Be honest with yourself about your worth and value
Before you attend one event or reply to one post, gain clarity and be honest with yourself. Don’t let fear drive your decisions. Both Ashley and I faced mindset challenges when we started in the industry – we had to establish our own self worth before we could persuade others to see our value.
When we talk to struggling VAs, we find that when people say they wonder if the market is saturated (it’s not!) or that they don’t know where to find leads, they’re often really saying, “I’m scared to put myself out there and I’m not confident in selling myself.”
You can find the work you love doing if you put in the time getting to know yourself and your clients, and have a powerful mission statement to guide you. So be honest with yourself. Do you really have no ideas (read on to solve that), or are you not feeling confident and worthy enough to approach people you want to work with and ask for the rate you deserve?
And you know you have at least one thing in common with your ideal client: you both struggle with something. Ask them what problems they need to solve.
Find your Unique Selling Proposition
What do you do better than anyone else? What services do you specialize in? You can be a general VA, but if you specialize in funnels for email marketing, for example, your world shifts. You’re seen as an expert and you don’t need to comment on those desperate “I need a VA” posts any longer. You’re now serving an entrepreneur who:
- a) Knows exactly what he or she needs help with
- b) Has a specific need you can satisfy
- c) Understands you need to make more than $2.50 an hour.
In Sandra’s case, she had to take inventory of her own strengths and skill set. She discovered that she’s very organized, loves doing a variety of tasks and is a fantastic project manager. Plus, she’s great at finding awesome people to work with, so she can offer more value to her clients. But her lack of confidence in the beginning made it difficult to put herself out there. She works on this constantly, reminding herself of her value and how she can help her clients see that they should spend time focusing on their work.
Identify and approach your ideal client
Now for who to approach. Too often, we hear about VAs casting a wide net, trying to be everything to everyone because they think this will get them more customers, faster. But it doesn’t work, and they end up being nothing to no one.
The key to successful lead generation is the foundation you lay before you pick up the phone or send that first email. The reason this is critical is simple: If you know who you’re looking for and what their struggle is, and have done your research, finding them will be easier. Without knowing who your ideal client is, you’ll waste valuable time and energy chasing lead after lead until you sign a customer.
Think of it like this:
Imagine you’re a fisherman (or woman) looking to bring home a large catch. You’re not sure what kind of fish you want to sell or which lakes and ponds in your area have the best fish, but you know you’re good at fishing and that there’s a market for all types. On your first day, you cast your net and bring in bass, a few walleye, some frogs, shells and a lot of refuse. You put aside the sellable fish and throw everything else back. After 8 hours of doing this, you net about 80 pounds of fish that you can sell for an average of $5 per pound. You didn’t enjoy yourself that day. You’re tired and filthy, but you have $400 worth of fish after 8 hours of work, which is much more than you’d make working 9 to 5 as one member of a crew. So you keep going, but you’re not having fun.
Your neighbour also sells fish. He loves fishing for salmon and notices it’s selling at $12 per pound. He does his research, talks to local shop owners, vendors and other fisherman, and finds a lake renowned for having huge salmon at 9.25 pounds each. After 8 hours of doing what he loves, he’s got 6 good size salmon that he sells for just shy of $660. He caught less, made more, didn’t waste time sorting through trash, and loved every minute of his day.
All because he knew what he wanted and didn’t waste time with stuff he didn’t want.
Work within your niche
Sticking with the fishing metaphor, let’s say the salmon fisherman kept visiting that lake and spots like it. After six months, he discovers a market for ethically caught, wild Atlantic salmon. As a proponent of sustainable fishing practices, he revamps his business to catch exclusively wild Atlantic salmon, 100% ethically, with no by-catch. He sells his fish to high-end grocery stores and specialty stores for about $16 per pound.
Same fish. Same business. Same fishing practices. But different marketing brought the Atlantic salmon fisherman a 25% increase in revenue, because he found his niche. You can find yours by following his example.
Listen more than you talk.
The story above illustrates a few lessons. One of the most important ones is that smart lead generation involves doing more listening than talking. The second fisherman was successful partly because he reached out to his network and spoke to prospective clients to confirm he could make a buck off his love of fishing for salmon. You should do the same.
Find out what your potential clients struggle with and what their pain points are. Ask some standard questions, but let the conversation flow. Define a good solution and customize your offer to fit their requirements. Don’t feel like you have to take on every client who comes your way (maybe you can refer them to someone else).
Build relationships online and off
The more you can help people, the more rich, valuable relationships and connections you’ll build. Ashley realized this and has invested time in strategic relationship marketing. As a result, her business has exploded this year. Her success proves you can build a stream of incoming leads by building relationships with people who will either:
- a) Become a client
- b) Talk about your services to others
(Find out how she’s received 3575% ROI from building relationships with people in the private Facebook community 90 Day Year with Todd Herman).
People think building and maintaining valuable, rich relationships and connections online isn’t as important, or that it’s been devalued. In reality, smart VAs use their online networks to help others and establish their expertise. Ashley focused on becoming an influencer in Facebook groups and forums, joining programs and getting to know entrepreneurs and their businesses on a one-to-one basis. You can also create connections in person by joining coworking spaces and attending local networking events. The more you tell people what you’re doing and why, the more authentic leads will come your way.
Here are just some of the tactics we use to generate leads:
– Find or create local and online groups (networking, coworking, pro-dev, industry specific, etc.)
– Ask for referrals
– Strategic marketing (sponsoring events, speaking at events, being a guest on a podcast, offering a master class, etc.)
– Create a referral network, ambassador program, or finding JV opportunities
– Cold call potential clients
– Send invitations to connect on LinkedIn
Qualifying leads is about building relationships, knowing yourself and communicating your value to customers, while listening to them, genuinely caring about their success and identifying problems you can solve. Do these things and you’ll be well on your way to booking clients months in advance.
Ready to find your ideal client? Download our “Don’t Break the Chain” worksheet and get consistent.
Now it’s your turn – we want to know what you’re struggling with!
Tell us in the comments and we’ll tackle your issue in a future post.
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