Questions to ask potential clients

August 10, 2023
Questions to ask potential clients

What you need to know before deciding to work with a client

Congratulations! You have a potential client interested in working with you, or perhaps you've reached out to them, and they want your services. Now comes the exciting part - the discovery call, where you get to know each other and see if you're a great match!

When it comes to providing top-notch services, understanding your clients' needs, expectations, and goals is paramount. And guess what? You can do that by asking some well-planned questions that will give you valuable insights. These insights will help you decide if the potential client is the perfect fit for you.

In this article, we'll explore some essential questions that will help you get to know your potential clients better. Remember, it's not just about you interviewing them; they'll also be evaluating if you're the right fit for their needs. When done correctly, these questions help you select clients that will lead to a fruitful and enjoyable working relationship.

Ask these questions before deciding to work with a new client

Please, tell me about yourself  

Goal: Establish a connection

This simple yet powerful question opens the door to get acquainted with your client on a personal and professional level. As a virtual assistant, building a strong connection with potential clients is crucial for fostering a successful partnership. 

Take the time to learn about their background, their role, and the industry they operate in. Understanding their location can also be beneficial, especially if it involves dealing with different time zones or regional considerations. As you delve into their story, keep an eye out for shared interests or experiences. These commonalities can pave the way for organic bonding and set a positive tone for the rest of the meeting.

Remember, establishing rapport goes beyond just gathering information; it's about showing genuine interest and actively listening to their responses. By doing so, you create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that encourages open communication, laying the groundwork for a productive and enjoyable collaboration.

Tell me more about your business

Goal: Understand your client’s business

Encourage the client to share their thoughts openly, allowing you to discover the passion and significance they attach to their venture or project.

As they talk, keenly observe the finer details that unfold. This question acts as a window into their industry, providing insights into their market position, unique selling points, and potential challenges they may be encountering. By actively listening and showing genuine interest, you can grasp the core aspects of their business, identifying opportunities where your skills as a virtual assistant can make a meaningful impact.

Remember, this is not merely a data-gathering exercise; it's an opportunity to build a strong connection with your client. Appreciating their business vision and goals sets the stage for a collaborative partnership built on trust and shared objectives. So, let the conversation flow naturally, and through their words, you'll gain invaluable knowledge that enables you to tailor your support effectively to their needs.

Have you ever worked with a virtual assistant before?

Goal: Assessing virtual assistant experience

Getting insights into your potential client's history with virtual assistants is a valuable step in understanding their needs and tailoring your support effectively. 

For clients new to the virtual assistant landscape, they may require extra guidance during the onboarding process. By identifying their experience level, you can provide the necessary support to help them navigate this new collaboration successfully. Take the time to explain the benefits of working with a virtual assistant and offer reassurance, creating a comfortable and positive experience from the start.

On the other hand, clients with prior experience working with virtual assistants bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. Engage in open dialogue to learn about their previous collaborations, uncovering valuable insights into their preferences and expectations. Understanding what worked well and what didn't in their past experiences allows you to tailor your approach and build upon their previous positive encounters.

Remember, each client is unique, and their virtual assistant experience plays a pivotal role in shaping your working relationship. By asking this question, you lay the groundwork for providing personalized support and forging a successful partnership that aligns perfectly with their needs and aspirations.

What kind of help are you looking for?

Goal: Understand your client’s specific needs

This is a pivotal question that allows virtual assistants to grasp the client's unique needs and motivations effectively. By understanding their specific requirements, you can tailor your response to emphasize the value and benefits your services bring to their individual situation.

Imagine your client seeks assistance in enhancing their website's user experience to drive higher conversions and sales, and fortunately, you provide precisely those services. Tailoring your response to address their specific needs showcases your expertise and how your skills can contribute to achieving their goals.

Equally important, this question helps you determine if you're the right fit for the client. If their needs extend beyond the services you offer, recognizing this early on allows you to plan accordingly and potentially refer them to other suitable professionals.

Ultimately, this question serves as the foundation for building a successful collaboration. By aligning your offerings with the client's specific objectives, you demonstrate your dedication to meeting their requirements and providing tailored support that delivers tangible results. Embrace the power of this question to ensure a fruitful partnership that caters precisely to your client's needs and aspirations.

By working with me, what challenges are you expecting to solve or what benefits do you want to gain?

Goal: Aligning objectives

This question sets the stage for them to recognize the value and potential solutions you offer, ensuring a fruitful partnership built on genuine goals.

Encouraging the client to contemplate their expectations and desired outcomes helps them envision how your collaboration can address their specific business challenges effectively. It ensures that you work with clients who have real, tangible problems and are genuinely focused on achieving meaningful goals.

For instance, if a client candidly shares, "Our marketing campaigns haven't been generating the desired results, and we're struggling to reach our target audience effectively," acknowledge their openness and determination. By doing so, you create a positive atmosphere that fosters open communication and collaboration.

In response, you can outline possible solutions, demonstrating your expertise and how you can assist them in overcoming their marketing challenges. This collaborative approach aligns your services with their objectives, showcasing how your skills and dedication can lead to the desired benefits and outcomes. By addressing their specific challenges and delivering value, you pave the way for a successful working relationship.

Are you looking for an executor, strategist or someone who can do both?

Goal: Aligning roles and expectations

Clients vary in their requirements: some have a well-defined strategy and seek assistance with its seamless execution. Others are starting from scratch and need a virtual assistant who can contribute to crafting a winning strategy. And then there are those who require a blend of both strategic guidance and hands-on execution.

By clarifying their preferences, you can determine if your skillset aligns with the role they seek. If you specialize in task execution and the client primarily needs strategic input, it may not be the best fit for you or the client. Conversely, if your strengths lie in strategic planning and the client prioritizes execution, it may also signal a potential mismatch.

Honesty and transparency about your capabilities and preferences ensure you work with clients whose needs resonate with your expertise. A successful partnership arises when both parties share a common vision and understand how each can contribute effectively to achieving the client's objectives.

So, don't be afraid to ask this question early on. It sets the foundation for a productive collaboration, where your skills and talents are optimally utilized, leading to mutual success and satisfaction.

What does success in this role look like?

Goal: Define success for a fruitful collaboration

As a virtual assistant, envisioning success in your partnership with a potential client is essential for delivering exceptional results. One question that can illuminate this path is, "What does success in this role look like?"

By asking this question, you gain valuable insights into the client's vision of a successful collaboration. Understanding their expectations, goals, and desired outcomes empowers you to align your efforts effectively. With a clear understanding of what they consider success, you can proactively strive to meet and exceed those expectations.

Each client's definition of success may vary, ranging from increased efficiency and productivity to measurable business growth. Acknowledging their aspirations allows you to set a roadmap for success and tailor your support to address their specific needs.

Additionally, this question reinforces your commitment to delivering value. It shows your dedication to fostering a mutually beneficial partnership where your skills and efforts contribute to their overall success.

Will we be working synchronously or asynchronously? Or hybrid?

Goal: Establish communication and work preferences

In the realm of remote work, flexibility is paramount, and understanding the preferred mode of collaboration is vital for a successful partnership. With clients and virtual assistants hailing from different corners of the globe, time zone differences come into play. It is crucial to ascertain whether the client prefers synchronous work, where real-time communication is essential, or asynchronous work, which allows for more flexibility in completing tasks at different times.

For example, if you're a virtual assistant from Kenya working with a client from the US who prefers synchronous work, it's crucial to evaluate whether you can accommodate working during different time zones, such as evenings or nights to match the time zone of your client.

In most cases, a hybrid approach works best, combining asynchronous task completion with scheduled synchronous check-ins and meetings. This approach offers the benefits of flexibility while ensuring essential real-time discussions when needed.

By understanding the client's communication and work preferences, you can plan and organize your schedule effectively. It allows you to create a harmonious workflow that accommodates both parties' needs, leading to efficient collaboration and successful outcomes.

Remember, clear communication about working preferences lays the groundwork for effective collaboration, where both parties can maximize productivity and ensure a seamless working relationship regardless of geographical boundaries.

What tools do you use to run your business?

Goal: Understanding your client's business tools

Gaining insight into the tools your potential client uses to run their business is essential for a seamless and productive collaboration. Asking this question can provide valuable information that shapes your suitability for the role.

Various tools, such as communication platforms like Slack, project management systems like Asana, or social media marketing tools like Planoly, play pivotal roles in modern businesses. Understanding the specific tools your client employs allows you to gauge your compatibility and expertise in providing the necessary support.

For instance, if a client seeks assistance with email marketing and uses Mailchimp as their preferred tool, knowing this information helps you assess whether you're the right fit for the job. If you have prior experience with Mailchimp, don't hesitate to share your expertise, instilling confidence in the client that you possess the necessary skills.

On the other hand, if you aren't familiar with certain tools, honesty is key. Express your willingness to learn and adapt to new platforms, demonstrating your dedication to meeting their requirements. If you are not comfortable with learning new tools, graciously refer the client to another virtual assistant who specializes in their preferred tools.

By asking this question, you display a proactive approach to understanding the client's workflow and provide an opportunity to showcase your relevant skills. Tailoring your support to the client's established systems ensures a smooth onboarding process and reinforces the value you bring to their business.

What’s the budget for the project/work?

Goal: Discuss project/work budget

When working with potential clients, discussing the project budget is a crucial aspect of establishing a mutually beneficial partnership. Politely inquire about the budget for the project, ensuring it aligns with your rates and expectations.

For instance, if a client presents a budget range of $2000 - $2500 for a two-month period, and your rates exceed their budget, finding a middle ground becomes essential. Openly communicate and explore possibilities to draft a proposal that meets both parties' needs and constraints.

Even when discussing the client's budget, it's beneficial to have a clear price range for your services. This establishes your worth and provides a reference point for determining whether the client's budget aligns with your rates.

In cases where a client hasn't set a specific budget and is open to considering different options, share your rates transparently. If both parties agree, you can then use the agreed-upon rate as a basis to craft a proposal that outlines the scope of work and the corresponding compensation.

Remember, discussions about the budget should be handled with professionalism and respect. It's an opportunity to find common ground and ensure a fair and equitable arrangement for both the virtual assistant and the client.

By addressing the budget question early on, you set the stage for transparent communication and build trust with your potential client. This open dialogue allows you to negotiate, if needed, and craft a proposal that reflects your expertise and value, ensuring a successful and rewarding collaboration for both parties involved.

What is the payment schedule?

Goal: Clarify payment terms

As a virtual assistant, it's essential to establish clear and agreeable payment terms with potential clients. Inquiring about the payment schedule is crucial to ensure a smooth and transparent financial arrangement.

Discuss with the client how they prefer to structure payments - whether it's per month, weekly, daily, or hourly. Alternatively, you can explore the option of being compensated per project and set specific milestones, such as halfway through the project, for receiving payments.

Having a defined payment schedule ensures that both you and the client are on the same page regarding financial expectations. It helps to avoid misunderstandings and creates a solid foundation for a successful working relationship.

By addressing payment terms proactively, you demonstrate professionalism and set the stage for a mutually beneficial agreement. Open and transparent communication about financial matters fosters trust and confidence in your services, leading to a positive and rewarding partnership with the client.

How long are you planning to work with a virtual assistant?

Goal: Understand the duration of collaboration

This question is essential for aligning expectations and planning accordingly. You can also phrase it differently, such as "Is this a long-term or short-term role? Do you see this as a long-term collaboration?"

By knowing the intended duration of the contract, you can tailor your approach and ensure a suitable match for both parties. Some virtual assistants prefer short-term engagements, while others thrive in long-term partnerships. It's vital to find alignment in terms of the contract's length to foster a successful working relationship.

Understanding the duration of the collaboration enables you to plan your availability and commitments accordingly. Whether you are seeking a stable, ongoing commitment or prefer projects with defined timelines, this question allows you to find clients who share similar preferences.

This ensures that you embark on a partnership with clarity and shared expectations. As a result, you can invest your time and energy into collaborations that align with your career goals and preferences, leading to a more fulfilling and rewarding virtual assistant journey.

When would you like to start?

Goal: Establishing a start date

As a virtual assistant, knowing when your potential client would like to begin working together is crucial for planning and ensuring a smooth transition. This allows you to evaluate your work schedule and align it with the client's timeline.

The more specific the start date, the better, as it provides clarity and enables you to prepare accordingly. However, if the client is still finalizing details, they may give a ballpark estimate. During this time, the client might be focusing on getting everything in place to begin the collaboration smoothly. This includes having the necessary resources, materials, or access to systems that are crucial for the project's success. This gives you time to make necessary arrangements and organize your workload effectively.

Clarity on the timeline enhances your ability to deliver high-quality results while meeting the client's expectations, creating a positive and successful partnership for both parties involved.

What are the next steps?

Goal: Finalizing next steps

As a virtual assistant, it's essential to conclude your meeting with potential clients by establishing clear next steps. Don't leave the call without clarity on the path ahead. Ask the clients what you should expect next and also be ready to share your next steps.

If you need some time to think about whether you want to work with the client, communicate this openly and set a specific date or time when you will get back to them. If you require more information from the client to make a decision, let them know that you'll be expecting the details from them.

On the other hand, if you are eager to work with the client and are confident about moving forward, let them know so that they can share the next steps for the collaboration. This may include sending the proposal and contract, followed by planning a kickoff meeting to outline project details and expectations.

Regardless of the specific circumstances, always ensure that you and the client have a definitive next step before concluding the call. This demonstrates professionalism, leaves no room for uncertainty, and maintains a sense of direction for both you and the potential client. This also sets the stage for a smooth and successful journey, whether it leads to a fruitful partnership or a well-informed decision to seek other opportunities.

Ready to be matched with clients looking for your expertise?

Are you ready to start getting clients so that you can ask them these questions? Look no further. At Runnovate, we match top virtual assistants with clients. Submit your application to join our talent pool.

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