Interviewing Potential VA Clients: Use My 3-Steps Discovery Call System + Close The Sale

When you are interviewing potential VA clients it’s so important to use a rinse-and-repeat system. Make sure to have this system set up before you start working with clients, including a process that involves interviewing prospects. Do you have one set up already?

I call it the Discovery Session System. But you can call it whatever you want. Since this is a relationship-based business, you need to have an automated system for interviewing potential VA clients to find out if it’s a good fit for both of you. 

Remember, you’re interviewing each other, and it should be a mutual decision to either work together or not. If it’s not a good fit, say no and move on. The last thing you want to do is enter into a relationship that is not good for either of you.

The idea is to say yes to your dream clients and create a long-term relationship. My best advice is to trust your instincts. It’s so important to listen to yourself when you’re interviewing potential VA clients. Stop and listen to what your gut is telling you about this potential relationship. Your instincts are spot-on regardless of what you may think about it.

If you say yes to a bad relationship, it’s not beneficial for you, and it’s not good for them. So if you’re talking to somebody and the hair on your arms stands up, it’s probably not a good fit for you.

Have you ever taken on a client that you know you shouldn’t have? Maybe you saw the signs that they were not a good fit but ignored it. I know I have! I’m raising my hand here! I did it a few times before I learned to trust myself and say NO to potential clients that weren’t a good fit.

So remember saying NO is NOT a bad thing, and it’s also a complete sentence. No explanation is needed! If you feel that you have to give them a reason, then do, but it’s not required. If you want to provide an excuse, then you could say, “I can’t meet your deadline, or I don’t have the expertise that you’re looking for.” Or be honest and tell them it’s just not a good fit.

Follow These 3 Simple Steps For Interviewing Potential VA Clients

You see, interviewing potential VA clients is not enough to find out if they’re a good fit. You need to know what kind of information you should ask for, plus how to overcome common sales objections to close the deal. During the call, you’re discovering what the client is all about and how you can help them and if you want to.

#1 – Make It Easy To Set Up A Call With You

You don’t want to make it hard for potential clients to get on your calendar. For example, you have a 3-page questionnaire that they have to fill out before they can even get on the phone with you. You’re going to lose more people because they are:

  • Short on time.
  • Intimated by the number of questions you’re asking.
  • Frustrated by all the hoops they have to jump through just to have a call with you.

Why not make it simple for them to talk to you? The most important thing is to find out if they’re a good fit or not. Having a simple conversation can let you know pretty quickly whether they’re going to be a good fit for you or not.

Interviewing potential VA clients is the first step. If you have a questionnaire for new clients, don’t ask that on the initial interview, only ask what you need to know to decide if you want to move forward with this client or not. Once you make up your mind, you can ask all the questions you need because you’ve made the mutual decision to work together.

#2 – Ask These 2 Questions During The Call

OK, now let’s discuss the “standard” questions you should ask during the interview. For me, it’s simple. I just ask a couple of simple questions to get the conversation started and then let it flow. These are the questions I always ask:

  • How can I help you?
  • Have you worked with a VA before?

That’s it. The questions I ask after these depend on the conversation. It’s what works best for me. 

How Can I Help You?

Everyone is different and has specific needs, so I just let the conversation go where it needs to go. I don’t follow a particular script or questionnaire. I always start with “how can I help you” and then let them talk to get a sense of who they are and what they’re all about. Let the conversation flow and then listen to what your potential client is saying. I want to know what problems they have that I can solve for them. That is why they reached out to me. Then I follow up with

Have You Worked With A Virtual Assistant Before?

It will give me more insight into their previous relationships. And I’ll learn if they worked with Virtual Assistants before.

They Answer: Yes

If they say yes, then I want to know a little bit more. I ask a follow-up question that says, “how was that experience?” I want to find out if it was a good or bad experience because they’re going to have trust issues if they’ve been burned.

For example, if they hired somebody who took their money but didn’t deliver. Or they didn’t deliver quality and then fell off the face of the earth. You need to know that going in because you’re going to have to work harder to gain their trust because of their experience.

They Answer: No

They may say no, and then this is an opportunity for you to educate your potential client on how to work with a VA. Share your systems and expertise with them! I’m all about simplicity, and it works for me. Remember, my motto is Your Business – Your Choice. Do what works for you.

If you like more structure or want a list of questions to help you get started, feel free to download my sample questionnaire to give you some ideas of what to ask. Your Discovery Session system can be simple and tailored to fit your exact needs.

Freebie Discovery Session Questionnaire

#3 – Look Out For Red Flags

One other thing I think is important to point out is what I call “red flags.” These are things you’ll want to watch out for when interviewing potential VA clients. I’m listing the most common ones below. When it comes to red flags, everyone is different – you’re likely to have your list. But these are a few common ones I recommend you watch out for:

They Had Many VAs In A Short Period Of Time

For instance, they’ve been through six Virtual Assistants in the last three months. What’s the common denominator in that? The client is. Now it could be that they were project-based, and each person did different things. But you’re going to have to ask a follow-up question to see if you can find out why. It could be that the client is difficult to work with – so don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper to get the answers you need.

They’re Negotiators

They want to negotiate everything. You’re rate, the deadline, and your boundaries, how you run your own business, etc. These can be the type of people that question everything and can be a drain on your energy.

They Want To Dictate Your Schedule

They want to dictate when you do your work or when you’re available. For instance, your potential client might say, “you need to be available between 8:00 and 5:00, and you need to answer my calls whenever I call you. Plus, I’ll need to return my emails within 24 hours.” 

Not OK, you don’t work for your client. That’s an employer-employee relationship. The employer dictates when you work, how you work when you answer your phone, and when you don’t. When you’re working in your own business, YOU decide everything. They can’t dictate how you work and when you work, only you can. 

That’s a BIG no-no here in the U.S. They can get in big trouble for that with the IRS. If they try to dictate and tell you exactly what to do, that’s more employee and employer behavior. You can either educate them or walk away.

They Won’t Sign An Agreement

They won’t sign your agreement for whatever reason. Never work without a signed agreement. It’s not only a protection for you; it’s also protection for your client. If they won’t sign it, there’s a reason. And there is NO logical reason why they wouldn’t sign it. It’s a huge red flag for me – I won’t work without a signed agreement.

Now you may have some of your red flags. If you don’t, I suggest you create one that you can refer to when you’re interviewing clients. You’re looking for traits that you know don’t work for you.

My main red flags are:

  • Micro-managers
  • Firefighters (everything is always an emergency and on fire)
  • Negotiators

If, during the interview, you find out they have something on your Red Flag list, then you know it’s a “no.” Trust yourself – you know what’s best for you.

The Sales Conversation

The one thing that most people dread about interviewing potential VA clients. It’s that part of the conversation where you have to start the “close.” You know, where you have to start talking about your rates and how you work with clients.

For so many people, they dread having to talk about their rates; it can make them nervous or sick to their stomachs (that was me). But to close the deal, you have to talk about your rates.

You have to understand that you are the sales and marketing department. It’s up to you to get more comfortable with talking about what you charge because you’re worth it. Remember, they came to you for help, and they know you’re a business owner, and you don’t work for FREE! Go into each sales conversation, confident that you can help them, and you are worth whatever you are charging.

Work On Your “Sales” Mindset

Here’s a little mindset tip to help you if you’re nervous about quoting your rates. Double your current rate and then recite it to yourself in the mirror for seven days. It works! 

For example, let’s say your current hourly rate is $25 an hour. So double it and then stand in front of the mirror and say, “My hourly rate is $50 an hour”. If you sell packages, then do the same thing – double it and recite it to yourself in the mirror. You may think I’m nuts, but it works. Next time you’re having that sales conversation, and it’s time to talk rates, it will be easier!

Remember, this is your business. It’s your choice. You have the freedom to say no to anyone that isn’t right for you. The reason we all started our business is that we want to be passionate about supporting the people we want to help.

So, make sure that when you’re interviewing potential VA clients, they fit what you’re looking for. Be clear on what you’re getting into going in. Trust yourself. You know what’s right for you because so this is not a one size fits all industry.

What’s your system for interviewing clients? Feel free to post below and let me know – I’d love to hear from you! All comments and questions are welcome.

Thanks for reading – Susan

 

P.S. If you're ready to invest in yourself and a professional future, please check out my VA Success Training. It's for people that are serious about running a successful Online Business. It includes everything you need from business set-up, getting clients, client management, service packaging, a WP website, coaching, a supportive community, and so much more.

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Written by Susan Mershon

Susan Mershon started The Techie Mentor™ in 2013 to teach her no-fluff approach to the strategies and skills that Virtual Assistants need to create, build and grow a profitable and sustainable business.

With a strong base in project management, Susan brings her love of systems and teaching to offer in-depth training and mentoring to new and experienced Virtual Assistants.

She’s taught thousands of Virtual Assistants her proven strategies and systems for getting started, getting clients, and charging premium rates that can earn them 4x more than typical admin skills.

To learn more about her, how she’s different, and what she offers, please go to The Techie Mentor website.

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14 Comments
  1. Liza

    Hey – just watched your video and have a meeting with my first potential client tomorrow, so this was a big help. Thank you and wish me luck. Liza

    Reply
    • Susan Mershon

      Thank you and good luck. Be sure to let me know how it went!

      Reply
  2. Jeanette Kierstead

    I’m completely terrified thinking about my first client call. I love to help people, though, so I’m trying to change my mindset to – how can I be of help to them – instead of “selling” myself and my services. That’s the plan, anyway. You’ve helped me consider a different way to look at it. It’ll take some experience to gain the confidence I need! Just have to get that first potential client.

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Jeanette, you can do it! The more you do it the easier it gets – remember it’s a conversation.

      Reply
  3. Leanne

    Thanks Susan. I do struggle with what to say to a prospective client but am getting more confident each time. I find one of the hardest things is the follow up. How often should you follow up?

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Leanne, thank you for taking time to watch and comment, I appreciate it. I would continue to follow up until I got an answer from them – you need to do what is most comfortable for you. I would recommend following up at least 3 times.

      Reply
  4. Gabrielle

    YAAYYY for video #4 Susan!! Please keep them coming, you´re awesome!

    xoxo

    Gabi @ Mi Casa Organizada

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Gabrielle – I’m on a roll!

      Reply
  5. Michael Merritt

    Great follow-up to your VA Blueprint “Getting Clients” video – hits all the key points. Chomping at the bit for next weeks VLOG!!

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Thank you Michael!

      Reply
  6. Evelyn

    Thanks….I really needed that !

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      My pleasure Evelyn glad it was helpful!

      Reply
  7. Donna Shaffer

    This was very helpful and timely Susan! I have a Consultation Call today with a prospect. Thanks for the tips 🙂

    Reply
    • SE Mershon

      Hi Donna, awesome glad it helps. Good luck today!

      Reply
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