Often, my first contact with potential clients will be via email, and with a bit of luck, they will have an email signature with their website details included. This is a real bonus because it allows me time to check them out before I contact them back. As much as they are looking to me to possibly help them I need to know how to direct the conversation with them.
I have a very specific criterion for my clients. Micromanagers and narcissists are out, they need not apply. I’ve spent years of my life working with people who fit these two categories, been there done that, got the t-shirt! How a potential client answers my questions tells me an awful lot about whether they are going to be a good fit. Because working with a client is up to me and they need to be:
- great communicators
- happy to delegate
- passionate about their business
- trust me to get the job done
That said, my potential clients have me at a disadvantage. They have already done their homework on me because many come in as referrals from either a current or past client while others have found me on Google. So while they have some information about me, I need to to get the low down on them too.
How I deal with potential clients
- Do as much homework as I can on them before contacting them back.
- If they have been referred to me, I have a chat with the referrer (in all cases a referrer has let me know in advance of a potential client reaching out).
- Check them out on social media, I look for a Facebook page or Linkedin profile, to begin with.
- I always acknowledge receipt of their query within 24 hours. Even if it is on a weekend, I will either email or text message asking for a time to chat the following week.
What Questions I ask a potential client
- Why do they need help now?
- Why choose me to talk to?
- What isn’t working for them right now?
- How do they think I can help them?
- How important is fixing their problem?
What Their Answers Tell Me
By asking a potential client the above 5 questions, I get three super important pieces of information back.
- I don’t try and fit a square peg into a round hole!
- I don’t end up doing work I don’t like to do!
- Can I help them by recommending someone more appropriate?
What I do next
If I want to explore working with a potential client further, and they are keen to continue also, I prepare my information package and email it to them and there are 4 very specific things I include:
- Depending on what they need doing, I tailor the information about JMJ – EA for a Day to their requirements
- I include a costing table for the work they need undertaking
- I always include the terms of our working arrangement
- A signing sheet for them to commit
The potential client then has 7 days to take action from the date of the pack and come on board. If after 3 days I had not heard from them, I’d send a reminder, then a reminder that they had 24hours in which to accept. If there is no response within this time, it tells me something very important. They don’t need the help bad enough, so, therefore, delegating their work won’t be a priority and I would spend my time chasing them up for everything, in turn, micromanaging them.