Lessons from a Digital Marketing Virtual Assistant who actually does the work:
As a virtual assistant, your biggest tasks will usually involve helping your clients to be focused and organized. And that becomes a lot more difficult if you aren’t focused and organized in your own business. That’s why a lot of successful VAs are now using CRM (aka Customer Relationship Management) systems for their own biz. So, I wanted to share four popular CRM tools that are especially helpful for VAs and digital media assistants.
What exactly is a CRM tool?
I recently wrote a post about some great time-tracking tools for VAs. Well, CRMs are a step-up from these time-tracker programs. Not only can you use a CRM to track your time for each client, but you can actually integrate that time-tracking into a whole system that can also email, invoice, schedule, and manage contracts and reports, etc, for each client.
A CRM program can take the place of lots of little apps and software programs that you’re already using for tasks, and combine everything into one streamlined place. From gathering leads and collecting new client information, sending bulk emails or automated notices, and to tracking your hours and submitting invoices directly to clients, it’s all right there.
And these aren’t just for small businesses and VAs. Lots of businesses across the board are using them, right up to large corporations. So knowing what a CRM is, and how to use one, can really impress your clients. Especially those who are “in the know” in the business world and might need help from you to manage their own CRMs!
So why do I need it?
As an “I can do everything!” unicorn VA, you’re probably working on a million little projects all at once for each client. And then when you multiply that by a handful of clients (or more!), it becomes really complicated and overwhelming to keep track of everything.
That’s where the CRM comes into play. Not only does it keep you sane and organized on your end, but it also makes you look really professional and organized to your clients. And that is worth its weight in gold for your digital media biz.
And, since you’re streamlined and organized, you’re not jumping back and forth from program to program. There’s no constant “cut and paste” between different screens. And much less of that frequent downloading data and images from one program, and uploading right into another. That means extra time for you to focus on your clients (which means more opportunity for earning income!)
Four popular CRM tools to try as a VA:
Dubsado has a huge following among VAs. Its fans describe it as robust and easy to use. It can be tricky to set up at first due to the complexity. But, once you take the time to get everything into the system, it has a “beautiful flow” and looks very professional and inviting. Quite a few experienced virtual assistants have said that they started with other CRMs but end up sticking with Dubsado. And it’s free for the first three clients!
Zoho gets recommendations from VAs because it has different pieces that can work together to create the custom package that you need. For example, many of its users love that Zoho can integrate with social media. If you like to pick and choose individual components that work best for your business, then Zoho might be the best fit for you.
Users of Honeybook really like the fact that it is fast and efficient to set up. It’s also easy to set up automated workflows, which is when it automatically groups related tasks together and completes all of them for you at once. However, some users say that it doesn’t offer enough customization for those who are willing to take the extra time to set up a unique, personalized experience.
Copper is recommended for those of you who already use and love the Google suite for your business. It can integrate directly with programs like Gmail, and is supposed to have a shorter learning curve than some of the other programs if you’re already a Google user. Although it’s less commonly used then some of the others here, it definitely has its fans in the world of virtual assistants.
The Takeaway: Think about the best CRM tools for your VA business
Just like I mentioned in my post about time-tracking tools, you should try out a couple of different platforms and take advantage of the free trials available to you. Take a couple of hours to play around in the systems and see how they might work with your own business setup.
For one thing, take a good hard look at whether a full CRM system is what your digital media business needs right now. Although most of them offer a free basic option as a trial, basically all of them eventually require a monthly or annual fee for their use.
And for many busy virtual assistants, the cost is worth it. It keeps them organized with multiple clients and ultimately gives them more time for billable hours. But if you’re just starting out with only a few clients, it might not be time yet. Make sure it is worth the investment. In the meantime, you can stick to basic free services for each piece of the puzzle.
How to grow your VA business into one that is CRM-worthy:
Maybe you’re not quite busy enough to invest in the full CRM services yet, but are ready to grow and get there. If that’s the case, think outside the box about what additional services you can offer to clients that you aren’t already doing. You can start here with my list of 10 popular tasks that online businesses need help with the most!
These are the tasks that new clients are constantly asking for help with, and skills that they really need to find in a virtual assistant. Get access to this free download right now. Then make sure your own VA toolkit is up-to-date and relevant, and decide where you might need to invest in new growth and development for your biz.
Stay tuned for more of my tips and tricks!
-Emily, Digital Media Consultant (and Virtual Assistant …)
“I WILL MAKE AN ARMY OF VAS WHO CAN HELP THESE TRIBE PEOPLE!!!”
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