What questions do you ask new clients during your consultation, and what are their questions?

Top KoalaT

New Member
I definitely agree with finding out as much as you can online (company Web site, Google, LinkedIn, etc.) prior to the call, so that you can personalize the conversation.


New Member
Love Annerene's suggestion to ask what's their pet peeve. revealing - yes!

A question I like to ask is: why do you want a VA for this work instead of an employee? Granted, I may be pushing myself out of a gig with that one, but it is really important to me to know that the PC understands the difference between contractor/consultant and employee. My asking, instead of informing or lol lecturing, opens an easier conversation if they don't truly understand the difference. and I know from the start that we're on the same page.

Can anyone suggest a tactful way to ask: are you a control freak? :)


New Member

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.

Good Luck and Relax.
Exceptional response. Very thorough.


New Member
This was fantastic. I set up a Word Doc and pasted the questions in there so later on I can go back and make up a list. Thanks to all the contributors!

On My Wings

This is an older post, and the latest post that included a question was a back in July from "pkeahi." She asked a great question that was never answered...so I'd like to see if I could resurrect that question. :eek:ut:

She asked - How can you tactfully ask if someone is a control freak?

Also - as an addition to the discussion...couple important rules when talking to PC's. The one who asks all the questions wins and the more you let them talk about themselves the more they talk themselves into your services. Let them sell themselves.

For example: When you ask questions don't just wait for an answer and then jump in too soon with your solution or the "sell." Draw more out of them. Ask "what else" or "really?...tell me more about that." Make absolutely sure you are listening really well. Let me ask...have you ever gone to buy something, like a major appliance. How does it make you feel when the salesperson comes up and just starts telling you all the features of the item before they even found out what matters to you.

Then when you do talk about a solution be sure to put back in front of them the challenges they are trying to resolve. Keep their problem or desires in front of them as much as possible and develop scripts that will guide you along the path to help you make sure that you don't jump in too soon.

When someone sells themselves it is always a stronger sale.
Just when I think I've read everything that's personally useful to me and my new VA business, I find something like this thread. Thank you all. This forum just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait until I reach my 'posting' quota so I can really begin to participate!

On My Wings

Ahhh..shucks Mary. Thanks. I just have been blessed with a great mentor, that's all. I took her network marketing techniques and just learned how to apply them to everyday life. It's quite interesting.

For instance - are you married or have a sibling - or some other relationship where you sometimes have conflict? Next time you are in an argument or disagreement with someone, try letting them do all the talking. Be careful of the wording you use. For instance you don't want to say..."tell me more" because that can be taken as condecending (sp??)...but figure out how you can tweak your wording where they will be willing to continue...to go on sharing...etc. Watch and see what you get out of that. When I've done that I've found I didn't end up having to tell them anything about what they did as an offense to me. They end up telling me. The old saying about - give someone enough rope and they'll hang themselves...:) It's not 100%...but it does happen.

It's like job interview techniques. Effective interviewers will have periods of silence for a purpose. It's to keep the interviewee off balance because no one likes awkward periods of silence. So...if you stop engaging people will talk to fill the silence and interviewers know that people will be a lot more forthcoming if they learn to just be quiet and let someone else talk.

I LOVE communication stuff. It's so interesting!

Time Balancers

New Member
Here are some questions that I ask:

What administrative/technical challenges are you facing at the present time?

Regarding the administration/technical aspects of your business, what is it that you like doing the least?
If you could delegate two tasks to someone else, what would they be?

If I could take away your "pain", what would you do? (The answer should be "I would hire you!"

Does the company have any business debt? _________
Are you current with your bills on a monthly basis? ___________
[FONT=&quot]Are you paying all of your bills easily on a monthly basis? _________ [/FONT]

Based on the answers I ask questions for my team of experts:
What is the structure of your organization?

How many workers do you have? _____________

What is their status? q W-2 employee q 1099 Contractor

Do you use a payroll company? __________ If so, who do you use?_________________

If you have employees, what benefits do you provide? q Medical / Dental / Vision / Supplemental Insurance q Vacation / Sick Leave q 401K / Profit Sharing q Other *_______________________________________________________________

What types of business insurance do you carry? q General Liability
q Workers Compensation q Errors & Omissions q Directors & Officers q Other _____________________________________________

What forms of payment do you accept? q Visa q Mastercard q Discover q American Express q Cash q Check q Other

If you accept credit cards, who is your provider? ****________________________________

Who provides IT support for your computers and your network? ________________________________________________________________________

What types of marketing materials to you currently have and use? q Uniform Logo Identify q Trade Show / Fair Banners / Table Drape, etc. q Promotional Materials / Products, i.e., pens, pads, t-shirts, hats, etc. q Direct Mail q Email Blast
q Brochures q Tri-fold handouts / Sales Sheets / Flyers q Magazine / Newspaper print advertising q Web ads q Media Kits q Stationary, i.e., envelopes, letterhead, thank you notes q Other ___________________


New Member
The first question I like to ask is "Tell me about your business."

It's flattering to the PC and it begins a conversation.

I often find that, other than price, they don't know what to ask. So over time I created a list of questions that I need answers before I can quote a price. I like to know whether they have payroll, and what sales taxes they are tracking as this involves more work on their books.

I like to know whether the books are up-to-date or are they behind. Are the books messy or clean. I know I should charge more for messy books but I don't. But my rate is hourly so it takes longer to do those books.

Will the bookkeeping be done at my office or the clients. If its the client office I add a few dollars to the rate for mileage and auto costs.

Oh, and what software are they using. I know Simply accounting but QuickBooks is my choice.


New Member
I have been wondering about the best questions to ask a potential client. This thread is a great resource! Thank you!


New Member
I would also recommend that your questions be open ended not questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. The more information you recieve the better equipped you are to assist your new client!


New Member
This is brilliant! You can tell a lot about people from the way they communicate their pet peeves!

This one goes on my list for sure!

Thanks and Cheers,

I'm so glad I found this thread. I have a consult next week and the shared ideas here will be most helpful in preparing and running the interview.

Thanks once again,

Avail Virtual

New Member
I'm getting ready to give my first presentation to a prospective client whom I've not known before, so this has been very helpful. I want to make sure I make them feel comfortable in working with me - I appear confident and I listen to what their biggest needs are. Listening is key, so I know how to best serve them.