Attending that first meeting with a potential client can be so overwhelming that we act like we are in an interview. As soon as we do that we relinquish all our power, we display poor body language and before we know it, we’ve agreed to work for a client well below our rate. They leave grinning; you leave dis-empowered and confused wondering what it is you could have done differently. Keep reading.

This post will give you back the power so that you command your meeting, land the client and get it done on your terms.

Your preparation

When you get that phone call or email asking to meet up. Have a set of questions ready that you can ask that will help you prepare for the meeting.

We’ve all had those vague emails. “Hi, I was surfing the net for a VA and found your website. I think I need help.” That’s it; end of email. You want to find out who they are, what their business is, have they worked with a VA before, do they know what they need help with? Google their domain (assuming it is in the email address). This is always a great starting point. Conduct a Linkedin Search. This type of preparation will help you ask the necessary questions. You don’t want to ask them the obvious that can be found by a Google search. That would indicate you struggled in the ‘problem solving area’ and that’s not what they want.

Choosing a venue

Always pick a venue that is known to you (if possible) this will be the first step to ensuring you are comfortable with your surroundings from the get go. Knowing the wait staff and having them know you gives you an immediate edge. The prospective client will be at ease, knowing you are seen as the authority figure to begin with.

If you are meeting somewhere that you haven’t been before. Whip out Google, have a look at the venue, what do they serve, open / closing times. The venue might not be any good if your meeting is at 3.30 and the venue shuts at 4pm. This is something your prospective client might not be aware of, and by being prepared for this eventuality; you will be able to wow them with your preparation and expertise.

Rules of engagement

The following rules of engagement need to be controlled by you. By doing this, you take the pressure off the potential client. If he/she is looking at hiring their first virtual assistant, nine times out of ten they have no idea what to ask. Or, they have done a bit of research online and believe they have to interview you. We know unless they are going to hire you as an employee, pay you a salary, superannuation, holiday and sick pay. This is no interview. It is a prebusiness discussion between two professional people. Here is what you should discuss with him/her.

It’s like giving a presentation. Whatever you do, do not go over the time that has been allocated for your meeting. Make sure you finish at the time you are supposed to. It highlights you respect their time and tells them you are punctual.

Describe your business

Tell them who you are, what your business is about. Do this in three words. When I am describing JMJ – EA for a Day, I am telling prospective clients I am adaptable, I’m a troubleshooter and I’m discerning. Those three words tell my clients, I move with the times, I can solve problems and I can be trusted to keep their secrets. These are highly valued skills for any admin professional to have.

Share what your business is about

You should know what your business is about. JMJ – EA for a Day provides administration consulting and admin training to small business. The VA Project delivers a program to savvy individuals wanting to start their own VA business or lift their current VA business to the next level. If your business specialised in social media, then you would talk about what platforms, how you could build their online presence. If your a travel VA, you would talk to them about how you can streamline their travel, booking, processing, accommodation, etc.

Explain how you are the right fit for the client

One very important factor that I haven’t mentioned yet, and that is you need to have researched the person you are meeting. Who are they, what is their business? If you have an understanding of your target / niche market then, this should be a no-brainer for you. Let them know how you would use your expertise and authority to consult up, to provide them with a quick and efficient outcome.

Explain how you protect your clients’ information

Without getting all technical. Let them know how you would manage their data. Who has access to it (if you are part of a VA network)? How would you keep confidential information such as CC details, passwords, etc.? By showing that you have great systems in place you:

Let the prospective client know you are professional
You are showing your authority
Your business guarantee

Now, this could be a deal breaker. How do you guarantee your work? What do you do if something goes wrong? What is your mantra, the promise that your business lives by? I personally guarantee my services for ‘expertise, reliability and integrity’. That is my promise to my clients’. They need to know I am the SME that I am there when they need me and that my word is solid. Your guarantee should appear on your website and also be included in any documentation that is given to clients.

How you work with clients’

Let them know if you are presently working with other clients. It’s not an interview remember, so you don’t need to tell them, how many or who they are.

How you prioritise your clients work

Of course, if you are working with other clients, your prospective client is going to want to know where he / she comes in the scheme of things. This will also depend on the type of work they need from you and the amount of hours they are willing to invest. If your prospective client is wanting you to help with their eNewsletters only and they do one a fortnight. This becomes a mute point unless you are the one who has to write the content. I make it very clear to new clients that their workload and deadlines need to be sorted in the beginning.

If you collaborate or sub-contract

Let them know from the beginning if you work as part of a team of VA’s and if any of their jobs are likely to be given to someone else to do. Who is going to manage the work, check it and make sure that the end result is what the client is after. YOU ARE. If you are taking on the work, and then passing it to someone else to do, then you need to let the client know that they only need deal with you … sometimes the thought of having to deal with another person is daunting, it’s not what the client wants. It’s a huge step that they have decided they can delegate some of their business admin to you. You need to ensure that if it leaves your hands, you are responsible for it.

How you grow your business strategically

Your prospective client wants to know that the VA he / she is speaking to is a go-getter. Someone who is continually looking to learn and progress his or her own business. If you have no plans for your own business in either direction or expansion, what does that say about what you do? You need to show expertise, professionalism and leadership. They are looking for you to consult up.

What you can do for their business

The final step to close out your meeting is to provide your prospective client with a client induction package. This is a copy of the information you discussed. It should contain about you and your business. Packages / rates and what services you offer. As part of The VA Project, I will have a Client induction package template available. Your next step once the prospective client becomes a client is to understand their expectations. Keep your eye out for the next post as I share with you what it is you need to prepare for.

On a final note, if you go through this whole process and the client does not come on board. Know that you have done everything you could as the SME of your own business. If they haven’t come on board they are either looking for cheaper assistance or they simply are not ready to work with you. Either way, you don’t want to be working with a client that wants cheaper help or isn’t ready to accept help.

I’d love to know what you think, please leave a comment below.