Annoyingly, you will regularly be contacted by people who have absolutely no idea what they want you to do. They know they need help, but they’re often so busy they can’t think straight and really aren’t sure of the best way to use you. You obviously need to fix this or you won’t end up doing any work for them at all!
I’ve been in this situation a few times. The potential client seems to think you’re a mind-reader who can see exactly how their business works, what they need doing and how you can help them.
Personally, I prefer to only work with highly organised people, but before I perfected my method of going out and finding the people I wanted to work with, I used these techniques to help potential clients work out what they need:
- Get them to write down everything they do over the next week.
- They then mark in red everything only they (or another professional like their Accountant, Web Developer etc) needs to do.
- They then mark in orange things that they’ll keep doing for now but might pass over to you later.
- Everything else on the list can usually be outsourced to you.
They don’t need to colour-code everything of course – they can just mark or highlight the different things. I’m just a big fan of lists and traffic-lighting stuff!
- Ask them to write down every task they do that takes them longer than half an hour.
- Then to highlight things they don’t like doing or don’t need to do themselves.
- Then to write down the things they want to do but don’t have time for – such as business development, giving their existing clients more value, spending more time with their family, writing an eBook, developing a new product or service etc.
- You can then either do those things for them, or free them up to do those things themselves.
Ask them a few probing questions such as:
- What things have been on their to-do list forever but they never get around to doing because work keeps getting in the way
- How many emails are in their inbox
- What one thing would they do straight away if only they had more time
- How they get their clients and whether they have enough of them
- Whether they have enough time to give their existing clients the best service or after-care they want to
- Whether they do follow ups with their clients, get testimonials or case studies from them, connect with them on social media, do feedback sessions or have any other relationship strengthening processes in place
- Where they see their business in 2 years time and if they’re on track
Tell them the sole purpose of you is to make them money, save them money, save them time or save their sanity.
They need to think about what their core role is. What it is they actually do for a living and love to do, what their value to their clients is, and why they went into business in the first place. Because your job is to enable them to do that.
These types of people can often be a bit of a nightmare because they’re disorganised and want you to sort their life out for them. This isn’t my bag at all, but if you love organising chaotic types (or cat herding as I call it) they’ll love you if you can show them immediately that you’re able give their lives some order.
And these techniques are a great way to demonstrate this.
Remember, after you give them their tasks you HAVE to follow up on them otherwise they’ll just wander off. So pre-agree a mutually convenient time to contact them, schedule it in your calendar and do it.
My experience has been that they often still just disappear back to God only knows where they came from and you never hear from them again. So don’t be too disappointed if this happens, instead feel thankful that you probably just dodged a bullet!
Another thing that sometimes happens is that a chaotic person uses you in the wrong way then, when they discover they haven’t saved any time or money and are still stressed, they decide to stop using you completely. It’s their job to use you in the right way but if you can help them see where to use you effectively, you’ll both benefit.
* I don’t have this problem any more because I decide who I want to work with then I go and find them. I don’t even leave the house actually! Find out how I get my clients here.
* I have a download called how to conduct a client consultation that you might also find useful when qualifying a potential client.
* Here is a great blog post with an exercise someone can do in order to work out what tasks to give to a VA.