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 direct marketing method (this is where I locate, research, qualify and contact people I want to work with), I used these techniques to help potential clients work out what they need:
- Get the potential client to write down every task they do over the next few days.
- Then to mark in red everything only they can do.
- They to 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 they highlight things they don’t like doing or don’t really need to do themselves.
- Then to write down the things they want to do but don’t have time for – their wish list. These are things such as business development, trying new marketing avenues, giving their existing clients more value or service, spending more time with their family, writing an eBook, developing a new product or service etc.
- You can then either do their wish list for them or take on the other tasks so they can tackle their wish list themselves.
Ask them some probing questions such as:
- What things are on their ‘other’ to-do list. This is the long-term list of things they never get around to doing because work keeps getting in the way.
- How many emails are in their inbox.
- The 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 one/two/three years time and if they’re on track.
Tell them that all their work can be categorised into £10 tasks, £100 tasks and £1000 tasks. Business owners who want to go to the next level need to outsource £10 tasks so they can focus solely on the bigger ones.
£1000 tasks are huge business-progression things like connecting with business partners, strategy and creating courses. £100 tasks are (for me) things like marketing and creating content. And £10 tasks are everything else.
£10 tasks still need to be done – just not by them.
They should be focusing on the £1000 tasks and some of the £100 ones. They are totally wasting time, energy and money by doing their own £10 tasks.
The core purpose of a Virtual Assistant
Potential clients 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 the purpose if you is to enable them to do that.
A business owner works with a VA because they want to make or save money, save time or save their sanity.
Confused prospects can be a bit of a nightmare because they’re often 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 to give their lives some order.
Remember, after you give them the exercises 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 will still often disappear and you never hear from them again, so don’t be too disappointed if this happens. There is only so much you can do and instead you should feel thankful that you probably just dodged a bullet!
Use these techniques at networking events
Use these exercises to compile a branded handout for networking meetings. This will ensure you stand out and also demonstrate your problem-solving and marketing abilities.
The handout is especially useful if you’re at a networking event where you have to give a short talk about what you do – pop a handout on each chair and discuss how you help business owners level up in your talk. Ask them to complete the exercises at home (or before your talk) and make sure your contact details are on each sheet!
* 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. You will find this doc extremely useful when qualifying a potential client.