How do you start on the right foot with your clients?
Meeting and chatting to a client prospect can be a pretty intimidating or scary venture, and many VAs worry a lot about this part of business. That first meeting and the steps you take before, during and after it can make or break your business relationship.
It’s important to know how you want your business to run. What your goals are, how you want to work, when you want to work and for how much money you want to work. Being clear on your objectives helps you work out the smartest and easiest strategies moving forward with finding, securing and maintaining clients – the right clients.
Here are my 7 tips for starting off on the right foot with your clients:
- Make it easy for them. If you know who you want to work with, you should know how they communicate, what their pain points are and how you can ease them. Use this knowledge to make finding you and selecting you easy. Whenever I see someone respond to a call out for help with something like “I can help – PM me” I cringe. I highly doubt their ideal client loves researching more about VAs while the work they need help with remains undone.
Answer their questions, provide useful resources, arrange a time and location (F2F or virtual) to meet and have a chat. Use calendar booking software to make this easy.
- Do your research. From the moment you are contacted by a prospect to the moment your meeting starts, make it a priority to learn what you can about them. Not only so you can address their needs better, but so you can also ascertain whether or not they would be a good client for you. If they aren’t – make sure you don’t waste your time holding a meeting with them. That being said, not all prospects will end up clients, but you may find some because great friends, mentors, resources or referrers so don’t discount them if they could fit into the picture in another way. However, make sure you are upfront about where you stand and don’t lead them on thinking you’d be able to help them with their VA needs. You can always refer them to someone else.
- Set an agenda. When you get to the meeting stage, having a basic agenda will help guide the conversation, ensure all questions are answered and avoid wasting yours and your prospects valuable time. The agenda should also include setting out a plan following the meeting so you don’t walk away from the meeting unsure of what step you are meant to take next. Know who is going to do what and by when
- Follow up. Do what you said you would do and make sure the conversation keeps going. Give the client the confidence to know that that job is in hand and their life will soon be easier. Follow up using the agreed method of communication that works best for both you and the client. Where appropriate, guide the client in the processes and activities that need to be undertaken to achieve their goals.
- Have an agreement in writing. Always, always, always put your terms and conditions in writing. No matter how you feel about your client (and this goes for subcontractors too) you need to put everything in writing. Any person or business that you collaborate or work with should have an agreement in place. Agreements can feel like a real downer – they seem too formal and not ‘fun’ and it can be very easy to just say ‘we’ll be ok – I trust them and they trust me.” Famous last words. Not one person who has broken your trust has said that that was what they were going to do. That’s why it’s a breach of trust. You simply never know what could happen. So get everything that’s important and relevant in writing.
- Stay connected and always deliver. It’s not uncommon for a business relationship to start to lose it’s novelty and shine and for the people working together to start to feel less excited about it. If this could happen or is happening, it’s your responsibility to find a way to keep it important and interesting for you. When the novelty wears off and the shine has waned, you may find yourself dropping the ball a bit, letting things slide and no longer putting effort into ‘wowing’ your client. Keeping a client is what makes a successful business. Happy, ongoing clients make a business thrive. Once you’ve secured the client – your job is to get the job done and continually wow the client. Never forget this.
Regular meetings, goal setting, calendar planning etc can keep you both excited and inspired and make sure you keep working on those common goals.
- Get and give feedback. Make sure you know whether or not the work you are delivering and the timelines and method of delivery are making your client happy and achieving the results you’re aiming for. Ask for feedback and utilising the feedback to keep growing and improving. On the flip side, if there are things your client could be doing to make things work better, quicker or more smoothly, let them know. Work together to keep improving.
If you remind yourself daily of these 7 key points, you’ll be able to ensure that you are attracting the right clients and keeping them. Working as a Virtual Contractor successfully requires clarity, communication, dedication and a passion for ongoing improvement. Make these a staple in your business processes to avoid the pitfalls of attracting the wrong clients, not securing the right clients or losing the best clients.
If you’re a Virtual Contractor I’d love to hear from you. Have you had a terrible or a great onboarding process you’d like to share?