Introduction at networking meeting

The key to successful business is knowing your business inside out, having confidence in your ability to offer those services and knowing the right questions to ask prospective clients.

The latter is just as important as the former two points.

Why?

Because for you to be able to effectively help a business, you need to get to the crux of their needs. Not just what they think they need.

Effective communication is the only way to establish this.

In an earlier article I outlined ten questions for you to answer. Questions that will help you fully understand what services you offer, or more importantly what services you want to offer, and why businesses are in need of those services.

Today I’m going to outline ten questions you should ask any prospective client early on.

Questions that will help you:

  • Find out about their business
  • Understand their support needs
  • Determine if it’s a business you want to work with

Again the latter point is equally important.

But also, by being prepared with these questions (and any others you feel are relevant) your prospective client will get a sense of the professional that you are.

So many ‘Virtual Assistants’ call themselves that, but go about their work with little respect for what they do or for what their clients do. They simply want the money.

These ‘VA’s’ are easy to spot.

  • No professional website
  • No testimonials
  • No set procedures
  • No contracts
  • Low rates
  • (Haven’t signed up to our mailing list … haha!)

Want to be seen as a true professional?

Don’t fall into the same category.

Get your systems in place and you’ll appear more professional to others, as well as to yourself.

We’ve talked before about working with the right clients for greater business success – the better your business ethoses align, the more likely you’ll be compatible and have a long-term working relationship.

With that in mind, here are ten questions you should ask a prospective client to help find out if they are a good fit for your business, or not.

Q1. Describe your business to me

Q2. What exactly do you do?

Q3. Who are your target market, and where are they based?

Although you will have done your own research upfront (more on that later), you need to get their take on their business first hand.

Finding out what they do and who they are targeting, will help you decide if this is

a) an industry / area you’re interested in,

b) if you have experience in it already (making it an easier win), and

c) if you feel it may not be right for you due to experience, skills or desire.

Q4. What tasks do you think you need help with?

Q5. How much time do you currently spend on those tasks?

Both these questions are important to ascertain the client’s level of understanding for what you do.

For example, if they spend a lot of time responding to their customers / clients via email and social media channels and want you to take on that work, you know straight away if this is something you’re willing to provide.

Some VA’s do offer these services, others don’t.

Finding out right off the bat what they need, will determine whether to continue with the conversation or not.

Q6. Explain the systems / software / technology that you currently use?

Q7. Are you open to alternative solutions?

Here you’ll discover if the current solutions are in line with your own – do you have experience in them already? Are you willing to learn if necessary?

Or, to find out if the prospective client is prepared to change – you may have better systems and are keen to upgrade theirs for better ongoing management.

Q8. What are your expectations of the working relationship?

Q9. Do you have a timescale for the support requirements?

These last three questions (if you’ve made it this far with your prospect!) will help you judge whether they (or you) see this as a long-term relationship.

They will also give an indication of the time you’ll need to spend each week or month on their work – is that feasible for you with your current workload? Or if you would really like the work, are you prepared to lose another client to make room for this one?

Q10. What is your (weekly / monthly) budget?

And the final question, yet one of the most important, what’s their budget?

After finding out the work that’s involved, you’ll have a good idea of how much time you’ll need to spend each week or month.

Does this align with their budget?

If not, now’s the time to clarify the tasks spec, versus your rate. It’s always better to be upfront and transparent from the start – don’t shy away from it as it’ll only come back to bite you later down the line anyway.

So those are the main questions to ask potential new clients.

But it’s also worth mentioning, that it’s important to have as much information on the prospective client before the call.

Here are some suggestions on how to gather that information:

  • Company website
    • About page
    • Services / products page
    • Testimonials page
    • Existing clients / customer page (if applicable)
  • LinkedIn
  • Social media profiles
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
    • Pinterest
    • YouTube
  • Google search on company / person’s name

Do you have any other processes in place when talking to new clients?

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