Get Offshore Leverage
I onboarded a new Executive Assistant this week and she’s already rocking! How? Simple – I have a Standard Operating Procedures document ready to go BEFORE she started.
What will we cover in this newsletter?
- Details of my EA’s Standard Operating Procedures document for Email/Calendar.
- Don’t let snarky customer/vendor comments about “offshore VA’s” distract you from your goals.
- CX hires – Philippines vs. India/Bangladesh?
- Don’t ask Level 1 offshore talent to run 5 jobs. Focus. Focus.
Details of my EA’s Standard Operating Procedures document for Email/Calendar.
In the Free Resources section, I’ve included an example from my Standard Operating Procedures document (specific to Email and Calendar Processing).
What are key learnings for you?
- Document the job BEFORE someone starts. This makes onboarding seamless.
- Provide the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) document in an editable format (like Google Docs) so that yourself and your EA can alter the document as you learn together.
- Focus on 1 section at a time, until that section becomes a habit.
Week 1 – Email Processing.
How to Process the CEO’s Inbox
- All emails are read and a “Read / Receipt Template” is deployed. Feel free to customize that template to provide personalization regarding the email request.
- Emails are tagged using the following format:
Blue Star – Not urgent or important. Review and file/delete by the end of the week.
Green Star – Not urgent or important (internal team email). Review and file/delete by the end of the week.
Yellow Star – Semi urgent or important (external customer or prospect). Review and discuss by tomorrow’s EA – CEO meeting.
Orange Star – Semi urgent or important (internal team email). Review and discuss by tomorrow’s EA – CEO meeting.
Red Star – Urgent and important (internal). WhatsApp text CEO to address today.
Red Exclamation Mark – Urgent and important (customer or prospect). WhatsApp text CEO to address today.
Purple Question Mark – We have asked a question, and we are awaiting response.
Green Check Mark – Completed. Ready for Filing, but unclear which folder to file into. Will discuss at the next day EA – CEO meeting.
Basic response of “Read / Receipt Template”.
This is Fazila Tunnesa, Jamie’s Executive Assistant.
I received your email before he did, and assumed you would appreciate a speedy response.
I’ve personally reviewed your email and notified Jamie of next steps.
We’ll get back to you with appropriate next steps shortly. Thank you for your patience in advance.
Week 2 – Calendar Processing.
Creating the Perfect Calendar Invite
Creating the Invite:
Include a description of all the components of a calendar invite.
- Prospect = Pipeline Signals & Company Name – Get More At Bats with Customers on the Move
- Customer = Pipeline Signals & Company Name – Name/Reason for Meeting
- Internal Meeting = Department – Name/Reason for Meeting
- Vendor/Supplier = Pipeline Signals & Company Name – Name/Reason for Meeting
- Add the emails for any guests being included in the event and send calendar invitations.
- For customers and prospects, email the company as the invite is created to ask if any other guest (not included in the invite) if more people need to be included.
- Based on our Rules of Calendar Invites and the Guests geo-location, aim to book the meeting in THEIR AM (example 9 or 10 am EST, or 10 or 11 am PST which is 1 or 2 pm EST).
Examples of Using Specific Colors for Events:
- Red – Internal Calls
- Sage – Prospect Calls
- Basil – Customer Calls
- Peach – Business Development / Prospecting
- Blue – Training Calls (for sales professionals / managers)
- Purple – Training Calls (for Founders, CEO’s, Executives)
- Orange – Travel
- Black – Block Time to work on projects, work ON business, personal, fitness, family.
- Peacock – Ideas, Thinking, IP Development, Innovation
- Yellow – Branding (such as podcasts, events)
3. Time In-Between Meetings
– Batch like-minded meetings back-to-back. If a prospecting call is scheduled for 9 am – 9:30 am EST, aim to schedule the next prospecting call at 9:30 am – 10 am EST.
4. Negotiating and Notifying Others of CEO’s Schedule
– In working with guests for a meeting:
a. Follow the Rules for Creating Invites
b. Always suggest three (3) dates/times based in the guests time zone
c. Suggest that if those dates do not work, leverage the CEO Calendly (but suggest dates/times on the Calendly within the Rules for Creating Invites).
d. If an outstanding meeting hasn’t been resolved and booked, follow-up every 24-hours.
Don’t let snarky customer/vendor comments about “offshore VA’s” distract you from your goals.
Expect it. Someone will make a comment. I’ve had two memorable encounters with a customer and a vendor. DO NOT let this discourage you. This is your life, your business, your money, your goals. Profit is hard enough to generate, so don’t let other people’s legacy bias affect you. Here is a quick story with a customer:
“In 2020 my company Sales for Life started working with a cyber-security customer that immediately sparked a red flag. During customer onboarding, the CMO (economic buyer) and sales enablement leader (program manager) met our delivery team. Our delivery team consisted of a Customer Success leader, Customer Support coordinator and the Head Sales Training for this program. All of our delivery team lived in the Philippines. The onboarding call went brilliantly. The CMO was excited to launch. That evening, we got a diatribing email from the sales enablement leader, not CC’ing the CMO. The email stated that we shouldn’t use “offshore labor” in the sales training industry, and that we should cut our service fees because “offshore labor is cheap”. I was furious. I was defensive. My gut wanted to put this sales enablement leader in their place, but cooler heads prevailed. I asked to schedule a call, and wanted to hear their side of the story. On that live call, this person backtracked and stated that they were merely “preparing for the expected objections from the sales team”. After clearly outlining that our delivery team had enabled four of their top competitors with outstanding results, we agreed to the following – if even one sales professional complained (or even noted where our sales trainer lived), we would switch trainers. As the weekly training cadence commenced, week over week their sellers would call our Daily Coaching Hotline and seek sales advice from our Filipino sales trainer. Dozens of sellers from their team were active participants on the Daily Coaching Hotline. They became quasi-friends with our sales trainer (common in our space). The overall Net Promoter Score for the program was 9/10. The sales enablement leader had a legacy bias that was dumbfounded, and projected that legacy bias onto his sales team. Not a single sales professional in their organization mentioned it, or cared. They just wanted great sales advice.”
What I’ve learnt is that “drive-by advice” is not valuable. Focus on delivering a profitable, quality service, and the geo-location of your team will be a moot point.
CX hires – Philippines vs. India/Bangladesh?
Talent is talent everywhere. We love the talent in all three countries. Our core detail to your CX hiring is the importance of video, phone communications with your customer base. Thus – language and accents become meaningful to your decision-making process.
Best practice – separate the communication mediums required in CX. Are you really looking for “Customer Support” (Chat, email, text, Slack responses), or “Customer Success” (live connection with customers on video, phone, etc.). The delta between the cost of the Customer Support vs. Customer Success role can be $500-$1,500 USD per month depending on talent, then you have to factor in the labor arbitrage of Philippines vs. India. I would recommend the following:
- Separate the tasks. Anything that is non verbal communication – make a Customer Support role.
- Customer Support for maximum operational efficiency should be in India or Bangladesh at $300 – $500 USD per month.
- Migrate your Customer Success teammates to the Philippines ($1,000 – $2,500 USD per month) where American English accents are the norm. This is for high value CX communication:
- Onboarding calls
- Customer discussions
- Business case reviews
Here is a sample application video from Mondo, a former teammate of ours at Sales for Life on the Customer Success team (training and facilitation). This is the level of American English experience the Philippines offers! Check the video out!
Don’t ask Level 1 offshore talent to run 5 jobs. Focus. Focus.
I got a call from a customer of ours who wanted to hire a Virtual Assistant (Executive Assistant). The ask was for this person to run what I would deem 5 jobs:
- EA work
- SEO work
- Marketing work
- HR work
- Accounts Receivables work
What? I want a unicorn working in my business too, but it’s not going to happen.
Remember there are 3 levels of offshore talent. Here is the definition of Level 1 = Crew member (boat analogy).
Level 1: Crew – Given a pre-defined project or series of tasks and run with those assignments to completion. They perform at an optimum level in correlation to the details pre-defined and documented in their role. The clearer the documented tasks and lines of communication, the better they perform. They are sub-optimal at either assembling these projects or tasks into a strategic initiative that can be incrementally improved on, manage “crewman” (team) of like minded people in this similar role, and unable to develop new strategic innovations within this role/function that lead to departmental improvements.
With the labor arbitrage you will achieve, FOCUS. Have your Level 1 teammate focus on a functional role (like EA / Office Administrator) and master that role. Become the operational efficiency you expect! If you’re doing this right, you will save 3-5x in labor costs per role, so you can afford focus, and you’ll receive an extraordinary return for doing so.
Don’t Forget – Benchmark your team against offshore talent.
- What is the profit increase you could expect?
- What is the sales relief / reprieve you could expect to generate the same profit?
Get ready to be shocked!