Hi Tia I might suggest finding out what tasks they have to do on a daily or regular basis that they don't enjoy doing, feel are taking too long, or are taking away from other aspects of business they feel are more important (maybe these are things you can take off their hands!) I would also ask if there are areas in their business they are looking for specific improvements; goals they have in mind; areas of technology or the internet that they are interested in learning more about or utilizing. I would find out what their expectations in partnering with a VA are.
I would also ask if they have any questions for me
Don't worry - you'll do great! It's just another person on the end of the line
Take some time to focus a bit before the call; get energized about your practice, your services/skills, and yourself and you'll go into the conversation with lots of confidence.
The first question I ask is to tell me more about their business and what it is they are looking for. Then I ask for more details about the tasks they need help with. This gives me a great starting point for discussing my business, the VA business and how I can help them.
I have a routine when it comes to preparing for the first phone consultation.
- I check out the PC (pc=potential client) website if it they provided it, if not I ask them for it so I can familiarize myself with their work.
- Next, I search Google/Twitter/Myspace/Facebook/LinkedIn for their name and company. I'm finding it an awesome resource in finding out more about them & their work, good & bad. You can find out a bit about their personality. See if they are someone you would like working with.
- I keep notes of anything interesting I find
-During the call I keep there website open so I can refer to it, if needed. I also mention that I read their site, making sure to comment on something found there, and think working with them would be interesting
Some questions I ask:
-What is it you think you need me for?
-How much time do you spend doing those tasks yourself everyday?
-What else do you do all day? And what would you be able to do more of, once I take over the other tasks? This question lets you know what they feel is most important/most enjoyable, plus it may give you someideas for how you can help them with other things.
-I let them know some of the other things I could handle for them either right away or in the future. I tell them, I understand how difficult it can be to let go of some control over your business so for 30 days you will get a discounted rate, so we can see if we "fit" well (no mention of $/hr yet)
-How do you prefer contact be made? Email, Phone, IM, Skype,etc.
-How often do you prefer progress updates?
- At this point I let them know whether or not I think I could help them, personally. If not, I offer a couple options:
1-I tell them it is not really my area of expertise but I have an associate who can handle it. Would they be ok with my overseeing the account but having the associate handle to actual work?
2-I offer to direct them to another VA who may be a better fit (you could still sub it out to another VA but client would deal with other the VA directly & pay them through you)
3-I offer to submit an RFP for them (at a flat rate) to all the forums and boards I am a member of to aid them in their search.
All of these options provide an opportunity to retain the PC. Once they see how well you work, they may send more work and/or referrals your way.
Make your call a very positive experience. Listen more than you talk.
Lastly, I offer to write up a contract (which will state my rate) and send it over to them for their review. I recommend they look it over for a few days and if they agree to all terms, sign it, send it back and work will start asap.
I agree with what everyone has said. I might just take a copy of my Web pages and stick them in a folder. That is because not everyone is on line. I have a PC calling me who doesn't own a computer. I had to send him my Web pages. So you may want to think of that. Even though that does present a problem of "how do you send the work over"? I don't think this client and me are a good fit, he wants to drop off the work at my home and that is not something I am comfortable with. But it may be a workable thing for other people. Then I take forms like: client data form, contract, FAQ, rates that I keep in a special folder just for free consultations. Then I will leave them for the PC. Along with my business card attached to an inexpensive folder.
I also make it a point when the PC is talking I try to take notes for later cause I just know I will forget something that was important. Then I can followup if need be. I also take those notes and type them up, date them and put them in my "Inquiries folder" for those free consultations. If the PC turns into a client then I have a heavy cardboard folder with 2 prongs on the top. I use that to file any legal docs like: contract, NDA, etc. I also have another folder for each client with my copy of work done. You kind of have to do it as you go along and see what system really works best for you. One works for one person doesn't always work for another. HTH
lol... that sounds about right........ :gigglebox:
I have a form that I made up from information I actually found here... all sorts of inquiring questions. So I use that, and I am naturally nosey, scratch that, inquisitive.. I generally know when their kids get out of school before the first conversation is through.........
I also want to thank you all for your insight and input as to how to go about the first consultation, and for how to set up a routine/process to provide consistency to how one does business. I feel very lucky to learn from you all here. Thank you for being so open with your thoughts, ideas, and specifics. ~Annette