Many senior leaders aren’t able to justify a full time executive assistant, but are still drowning in hours of admin alongside a demanding workload.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, many enterprise execs are embracing a new trend — remote fractional executive assistants.
This new admin role can step in for a few hours per day, enough to significantly make a difference in the productivity and satisfaction of executives. It’s flexible, cost-efficient, and low-risk. But it’s a new concept that some execs can be reluctant to try.
If you’ve pitched the idea to your leadership before, but gotten nowhere, you’re not alone. Here are 5 science-backed techniques that you can use to convince a senior executive to get a remote executive assistant (or other admin support).
To start, it’s best to understand why executives say no in the first place.
Why Execs Say No (And What To Do About It)
With all of the requests, opportunities, and decisions that come at them, execs know that saying “no” is necessary to stay sane. They’re even taught saying “no” is part of wise leadership.
Setting boundaries is a smart move.
When you’re overly busy, it’s better to decline if there’s not enough time to carefully consider all options. You may hear it couched as, “Let’s look into that next quarter.”
There are fixed action patterns at work, those automatic habits an exec has relied on to accomplish work.
The problem is, while “no” maintains the status quo, it can mean protecting the sub-optimal. And resisting a desperately needed EA can be one of the biggest productivity misses in any org.
This means the burden’s on you to get to “yes.” Understanding how persuasion works can turn the tables.
5 Ways To Use The Science Of Persuasion To Change Your Exec’s Mind
Productive persuasion is not about manipulation. It’s about understanding how people think and overcoming internal barriers.
Here are 5 ways to do so.
1. Align an executive assistant with your exec’s goals.
First, understand where your exec wants to go and align an EA with that trajectory.
Think about your executive’s near-term goals. Are they (or their business unit) on pace to meet them? If not, what’s at stake if they miss these targets?
Know this and you’ve reached the core issue to build your case around.
Then, position an executive assistant as the answer to these strategic problems:
- What barriers to their goals will an EA help overcome?
- What new levels of productivity can your exec reach?
- How do admin tasks move the business forward?
2. Be ready with answers to common objections.
If you know your exec’s challenges or frustrations, you know what kind of questions are brewing in the background.
Unanswered questions are unknowns. Too many of those unknowns lead to a “no.” You need to be ready to handle objections like:
O: “I don’t have time to train someone. It’ll be faster to do things myself.”
A: “A great EA will onboard themselves, and even train you how to best work with them.”
O: “There’s no way I’d trust anyone to be in my inbox!”
A: “You can start small as you develop trust. There are more tasks than your inbox.”
O: “The last EA didn’t work out well.”
A: “Can you share what didn’t work? I’ll outline your requirements to find the right fit.”
O: “We don’t have the time or budget to hire another employee right now.”
A: “We can work with a fractional executive assistant whose hours can expand as you need them.”
Spend a few minutes noting possible objections and be ready with solid answers. For example, if an exec might be worried about cost, research how much you can expect to pay for various staffing models.
3. Use the right language.
The language you use guides the conversation.
For example, instead of “would you be interested in an EA” go with “would you be willing to try an EA?” By appealing to their willingness instead of their interest, you move the conversation toward a decision.
4. Know what triggers a yes.
According to Robert Cialdini, a renowned social psychologist and expert on persuasion, there are six key principles that will help you get what you want from execs. One of the strongest ways to trigger a “yes” can be social proof. We’ll add in a second — ROI.
Social proof is the idea that we’re more likely to do something if others are doing it. Show your exec that their peers have executive assistants, and they’ll probably want one too.
For example, senior executive and Boldly customer, Stu Loeser, recently said, “I was able to increase my productivity easily by 15–20% when I brought my Boldly EA on board.”
ROI, on the other hand, puts the decision in terms an executive is already thinking, time and money. At a minimum, the ROI of an executive assistant would be the value of an hour of the exec’s time x the time they’re spending on administrative tasks.
But it doesn’t stop there — if the exec can invest the time they’d previously been spending on administrative tasks on critical projects and strategy, the ROI starts to increase exponentially.
5. Reduce the risk.
Execs don’t want to take on more risk.
Frame your solution (in this case, getting an executive assistant) so that it has less risk than continuing with the status quo.
The subscription staffing model is excellent for this reason.
- Lack of a locked-in contract leaves the exec with the freedom to say no down the road.
- They get to meet their executive assistant before deciding to go forward and are carefully matched for skills and personality fit so there’s complete control over who they’ll be working with.
- They can increase or decrease hours as needed, reducing budgetary risks while remaining open to growth.
Go Beyond The “No”
When you know the solution—such as bringing on a remote fractional executive assistant—is a solid choice, persuasion is much easier. Have information and answers at the ready, use the science of persuasion, and show how the risk-free nature makes it an ideal solution.
Topic: Remote Executive Assistant
Published on October 12th, 2022