Have you ever wished you could clone yourself? Maybe you don't like yourself enough to make a mini-me, but most of us wish we could do more in less time. More and more people are taking steps in that direction by turning to virtual assistants (VA) to offload administrative tasks so that they have more time to focus on moving their businesses forward.
One question executives often ask, silently or out loud, is whether they have enough work for a virtual assistant. Typical executives spend 16 hours per week on admin work—most of which can be delegated to a VA. Let's look at the long list of virtual assistant tasks you can outsource.
Virtual Assistant Tasks - General Administration
Just because technology has made it possible for executives to do their admin work doesn't mean they should. A virtual assistant can do many executive admin tasks, giving you more time for higher-value work.
This is a no-brainer. It takes about 25 minutes to schedule a business meeting, thanks to the "ping pong" back and forth messages you send to find a time that works for everyone. The time needed increases with the size of the group. Give a VA control of your calendar, and you get that time back.
Meeting confirmations are a powerful way to prevent no-shows and the wasted time they generate. Confirmations are essential for in-person meetings that are off-site, where you stand to lose a lot more time. A VA can eliminate no-shows from your life.
Planning business travel can be exhausting. Finding the right flight, price, hotel, car, and meeting takes about 12 hours per trip. That's a massive chunk of time you can get back and an Ideal virtual assistant task. Give your VA access to your loyalty programs, document your preferences for airlines, seating, cars, hotels, and meeting contacts, and your VA can plan everything for you. And when travel goes wrong—flights are delayed or canceled; your virtual assistant will fix it all in the background. Phew!
Everyone loves expense reports. Wrong. It is tedious to collect receipts, scan or copy them, sort them by categories, etc. Easy peasy for a virtual assistant.
80 percent of executives said networking is essential, and 49 percent say they don't have time to do it. A virtual assistant can make sure you stay up to date with critical contacts and make you are aware of any changes in their professional and personal lives so you can communicate accordingly
About 10 percent of your email is relevant to you, and you usually forward a lot of messages to a more appropriate contact. A virtual assistant can learn your communication priorities, delete the SPAM, forward emails, and organize your inbox folders, so everything is always in the right place.
Answering the Phone
Just as with email, a virtual assistant can screen your calls to ensure only the right ones get through to you. They can also clean up your voice mail inbox and follow up on calls that don't need your attention.
Structured data that goes in standard fields is another perfect virtual assistant task. Examples include:
- Real estate listings for agents
- Resumes and job postings for recruiters
- Contact information for sales leads
Virtual Assistant Tasks – Sales Support
Salespeople only spend about 38 percent of their time selling. Much of the rest of their time is spent on administrative work, much of are tasks a virtual assistant can take off their plates.
The same admin work virtual assistants can do for executives —scheduling meetings, planning travel, and filing expenses --can be done for salespeople.
Salespeople spend hours scouring LinkedIn and other contact databases for leads that meet their target audience criteria. Document those criteria, and a virtual assistant can do the searching and generate lists.
A VA can load those lists into your email marketing platform and launch outreach campaigns. No sweat.
Social Media and Blog Posting
A virtual assistant can take your social media, blog calendars and schedule the posts. VAs can also find relevant images, add hashtags, build and test links, and check-off the SEO boxes.
When a prospect reaches out via your website or email, a virtual assistant can spend the 25 minutes it takes to schedule a meeting.
Sales Follow Up
78 percent of buyers pick the first company that responds to them. Following up on inquiries is critical. A virtual assistant can be a vital asset here, making you get on the phone or the inbox first.
CRM Cleanup and Maintenance
A healthy CRM works wonders, giving you clarity about your lead flow, qualification process, funnel status, and revenue forecasts. A robust CRM requires keeping the data consistent and up to date. Set the rules, and a virtual assistant can enter the data, update contact information with the latest activities, and run reports.
When there is a standard set of information you need about businesses, contacts, or markets, a virtual assistant can do that research for you. You may have specific details you want to know about prospects before a sales call, for example, or you may want to stay on top of any news story about a client or a market. A VA can do the research and have the report ready for you.
Virtual Assistant Tasks – Back Office Support
Some 28 percent of back-office work consists of routine tasks. A virtual assistant takes on many of them and frees up staff members' time for more valuable work.
40 percent of entrepreneurs say bookkeeping is the worst part of their business. A virtual assistant is not a CPA and won't be able to prepare your taxes. But a VA can enter bookkeeping data into applications like QuickBooks so that your financial records are always in order.
Timely invoicing is critical to cash flow. Business owners spend 20 hours a month chasing unpaid bills. A virtual assistant can send invoices and do the chasing of scofflaws for you.
As with invoicing, a VA can process payments and enter the data into your bookkeeping platform.
A lot of back-office tasks involve customizing templated documents for specific recipients. A virtual assistant can prepare invoices, proposals, contracts, NDAs, and more.
A virtual assistant can order standard office supplies and equipment and other scheduled, routine purchases for your business.
Virtual Assistant Tasks – Personal
A virtual assistant can also do many personal and family tasks for executives that make their lives easier and give them more time for what matters most.
Give a virtual assistant a shopping list and they can purchase anything that can be ordered online and delivered to your home or office.
Car maintenance, home improvement jobs, hair styling—a VA can schedule your appointments online or by phone.
Vacation planning can be as tedious as planning a business trip. A virtual assistant can book it all based on you and your family's preferences—including meals out and activities.
Reminders of Important Dates
Need to remember someone's birthday or anniversary, or other important milestones for someone in your life? A virtual assistant will not forget and can even order appropriate gifts.
Virtual Assistant Task Processes
This list of virtual assistant tasks is not exhaustive. A virtual assistant can do any job that can be documented as a repeatable process and doesn't require subjectivity. Most businesses and executives have specific tasks unique to them that are easily converted into virtual assistant tasks.
To learn more about how to work with a virtual assistant, download our guide.
About the Author: Bill is Prialto's senior content marketing manager and writes about the future of work and how businesses can be more productive and successful. His work has appeared in the World Economic Forum Agenda blog and CIO magazine.