The past couple of years have seen a boom in the virtual assistant (VA) business. Do a quick online search and you’ll find hundreds of assistants for hire, as well as dozens of platforms to connect you with them. There’s also been a significant uptick in the number of businesses contracting with VAs, and how many they work with.
But why the rise in interest?
There are a few contributing factors. One is that with the widespread adoption of remote work, businesses are better prepared to delegate to remote assistants. Improvements in virtual hiring platforms have helped too.
But the main reason is simply this: that often, they’re the most efficient for getting a job done. Below are some of the main benefits VAs can bring to a business.
Not Just Admin: VAs for Sales, Marketing, and More
It used to be that VAs generally did administrative work like organizing paperwork and calendars—and many people still think that’s all they do.
These days, however, it’s quite easy to find remote workers to assist in more specialized facets of a business. Below are some roles VAs are most often contracted to fulfill.
Virtual Sales Assistants
A remote sales assistant can support your regular sales team by researching prospects, arranging meetings, and compiling notes. This lets your sales team focus on cultivating customer relationships and targeting higher-value deals.
Virtual sales assistants can also handle cold calls, emails (for cold or warm leads), and cross-selling or upselling. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have entire teams of remote sales assistants, especially during busy seasons.
Virtual Customer Service Representatives
Virtual CSRs can filter incoming messages, resolving simple concerns on their own while forwarding more complex issues to in-house support specialists. This way, you can make your business more responsive without cutting into your own time.
Virtual CSRs can be especially useful for responding to queries sent outside your regular business hours. Since VAs’ hours are flexible, many enterprises contract them to manage after-hours messages or to supplement their teams during especially busy periods.
Social Media and Marketing Assistants
VAs can fill a number of roles in digital marketing: copywriting, graphic design, ad planning, CMS management and lead generation, to name a few. Remote work hubs are likely to have both generalists and specialists among their freelancers.
You can also seek out assistants specializing in social media marketing. Social media VAs keep abreast of both technical and social trends, and can assist in content creation, ad planning, and community management.
VAs can help you either get started in ecommerce or expand on your existing presence. Remote ecommerce assistants can help you get started by developing and designing a store or an online brand. Alternatively, they can keep your storefront updated by entering product descriptions, managing sales, and so on.
Scale Up with Flexible Remote Workers
One of the major advantages of working with virtual assistants is the speed and flexibility with which you can bring them on board. With no overhead costs or long-term contracts, you can enlist their services as the need arises.
Many businesses use this to their advantage to meet seasonal demand. Virtual sales assistants, CSRs or marketers can be brought on for long hours during holidays or other sale seasons, and their hours reduced when it’s back to business as usual.
You can also scale for major projects. Creating or redesigning a website? Virtual assistants can develop it full-time for a few months, then stay on for a few hours of weekly maintenance afterwards. The same can be done for rebrands, marketing campaigns, product launches, and so on.
Experiment and Implement
With all the varied skills virtual assistants bring to the table, it’s possible to assemble entire teams of remote on-demand workers. This opens up possibilities for testing new initiatives with lower costs, less long-term risks, and shorter time to market.
Some of the more obvious uses for this include getting into ecommerce (or other digital pivots, as it were), but there are many other uses too. Launch new products. Gather experts to research in fields your current staff aren’t familiar with. Develop training programs. All of these and more can be undertaken quickly—and effectively—by specialized virtual assistants.
Introducing a New Way to Recruit
In other words, what virtual assistants do is present a new way to recruit. Not entirely new, of course, as remote on-demand arrangements have been around for a while. But with all the developments in hiring platforms, service models, and so on, there’s bound to be a method or two that your company hasn’t explored yet.
Furthermore, you can also enlist a VA’s services for managerial positions. These days, many senior specialists have embraced on-demand work—part of the larger gig economy—in order to stay flexible and work on interesting projects. As such, it’s not hard to find experienced specialists on virtual hiring platforms to head projects or teams.
Business leaders around the world foresee that these new forums of virtual hiring will play a pivotal part in keeping companies competitive. The question is simply how best to put them to use.