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.