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Alexis Daly’s Talk on WOAMTEC Live

April 9, 2012

Last Wednesday, Alexis Daly was featured on WOAMTEC Live. She spoke on how to save time and get more organized. Just in case you didn’t catch all of the great information she spoke on, we decided to post her notes here on the blog!

Here are some ways that entreprenuers can save time and get on track:

  •  Make a Plan.
  • Delegate.
  • Follow Up.

The first way is to have a plan (or a routine) for the day. For example, checking email,  completing  follow up calls, updating calendar, social media posting, marketing, etc.

If you do not have a plan, you will not do it.  I know that the thought of stopping in the midst of your hectic schedule to make a plan on getting organized sounds like a waste of time.  But if you are constantly running around putting out fires you will run yourself ragged. It is best to have a plan to stay organized so that you get to focus on every part of your business: sales, marking, client accounts, client retention, etc.

Something that many entrepreneurs need to learn is how to delegate. Delegating allows you to focus and complete tasks that are most important or most profitable to your time. Tasks that are clerical or administrative in nature take the most time but do not actually make you money. Those can be the best tasks to delegate out to an employee, intern, or a virtual assistant.

What is a virtual assistant?  A virtual assistant is a person that you contract to do projects. They can be part of a virtual assistant company, or you can hire a solo virtual assistant. Many people wonder – how should you choose a virtual assistant? There are a few factors to consider when choosing a virtual assistant: proximity, skills and work quality, and cost.

First consider if proximity is important to you. You need to decide what will work best for you.  There are VA’s overseas, there are VA in the US, and locally.  You might use a different VA for different tasks, depending on their strengths and your need of services.

You need to make sure that they possess the skills and produce the quality you are looking for. Some people choose to delegate small projects at first just to get an idea of the quality of work the VA produces.

Cost is another factor. You will find that overseas virtual assistants will be less costly than some local VA’s.  But make sure that cost is the last factor you consider; depending on what you are outsourcing, it might be better to have someone local that understands the culture and/or your local market.

There are many benefits to choosing to delegate to a VA.  One of them is, since you do not have to bring them on staff, you do not need to pay payroll taxes or offer benefits.

Another benefit would be that you do not have to purchase equipment or find or rent a space for them to work. Many are already with a company that provides the technology needed to complete your tasks.

Flexibility and specialization is another great benefit. Instead of having one employee that is good at a variety of things, you can find a virtual assistant skilled in each specific area.

Now that you gotten the little projects handled, let’s focus on another big distractor to your productivity: the phones.  It is important to create a healthy wall or barrier between you and your callers.

When the phone rings, you usually stop everything and that interrupts your work flow.  What are some solutions? Well you could not answer you phone and end up wasting more time playing phone tag. You could hire someone, or you could consider getting a virtual receptionist.  A virtual receptionist will weed out the calls, transfer you the calls you actually need,and will be able to disseminate messages between you and your callers.  Some virtual receptionists can even handle your schedule, confirm your appointments, and help you manage your day.

In order to pick the right virtual receptionist for you, you need to know what your need and call volume is so that you can evaluate the best services for you.

You also need to be able to meet with the receptionist and make sure they are a right fit for you and your business.  The process should not be to go online, search the word virtual reception and pick the first one you see.  You should interview them as you would an employee.  When delegating your phones it is very important that the person answering is going to represent your company the same way you would.  In most cases, this is the first encounter or interaction with your company that a person will have.  If they perceive that person answering the phone as rude, uncaring, rushed or unknowledgeable they might feel that is a representation of your company.

Lastly consider all the services you would be delegating to the receptionist and consider the cost.  Some places will charge a small amount for the phone answering and a lot for another particular service you might need.  Having mapped out exactly what task you will be utilizing them for will help you make an informed decision on the best company to go with.

Lastly I recommend that you have a great follow up plan.  You are one person and you cannot afford to waste time.  When you make a connection make sure you make the most out of it.

Let’s just say you meet someone at a networking event or at your office, and you speak to them about your product, service, or business. Afterward, you think the meeting went great!  You are excited for the possibility of the sale. And then, you never hear from them. You look back at your calendar for the month and you wonder why none of those “great” meetings ever converted into a sale.  At this point, you should ask yourself: “Did I follow up?”

Following up with a person keeps you on the forefront of their mind, so when they are ready to make a decision, they think of you and only you.  During the follow up is also a good time to see if the potential client had further questions or concerns that they did not mention at your meeting.

Now, the question is: How do you follow up?

First, you need to have a system.  It does not have to be fancy or expensive; it just needs to work for you.  Your method may be that you have a follow-up file system where you write the person’s information on a piece of paper, include the date and time to follow up, and then file it accordingly. Each week you would have organized who you need to follow up with. Another method may be that you use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program, or a calendar system (like Outlook or Google Calendar).

The important thing is that you call them back. Check to see if they have any questions, or want to set up another meeting to speak with you. Once you make the call, you may find that they are no longer interested. Don’t get discouraged; just because they are not interested at the moment doesn’t mean they may desire your services in the future.  There is also a good chance that they might know someone who may need your services.

You can also use these conversations as a learning tool.  When someone brings up a concern or objection, find out why they hold that position.  This will help you better understand their decision, and it gives you the opportunity to clarify or maybe change your presentation in the future.

Even if they are not interested at the time, don’t give up.  Staying in touch is also very important. Keep the information of those who were uninterested the first time you called, and contact them  once or twice a year to see if there is anything new, or just to say hi.  You can also set up emails to touch base with them periodically.  The email should not be specifically asking for the sale. The purpose of the calls and emails are to build relationships. An idea may be to send holiday greetings, or an article they might find interesting.  The important thing is to keep in touch so you remain on the forefront of their mind.

If you are consistent in following up, you will not only have a better chance of closing the deal, but you will also learn more about you self and will be able to use that knowledge to tweak you presentation.

In review, there are three specific ways mentioned here that you can save time and become more organized. One, you can make a plan for your day to keep you organized and on task. Second, you need to delegate out tasks that take up too much of your time. Lastly, have a plan on how to follow up with the connections you are making.

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