So, you have received an inquiry about your services and you have arranged a meeting / conference call with a new potential client – here is my ideas on how you can prepare and get your new Client on board!
My first tip would be to research the potential client and see what you can find out about them and their business, a quick search of Google should suffice, and then once you have found the details, look at the industry that they work in, so you also have some background knowledge of this – just the basics, after all your potential client will want to tell you what they want. You could make some notes that you can refer to.
Make a list of the questions you want to ask and also a list of things that you have to explain about your business. I use a document called a “New Client Info Form” that I fill in during this initial contact and also I have some “Virtual Support UK Ltd Fact Sheets” which lay out the details of all my offerings so that I can ensure that the communication is clear and also that I gather all of the information that I need in order to set up the services they require – I have listed below the subjects that I cover on each of the documents
New Client Info Form
- Company name
- Contact name
- Contact details
- Company address
- Field / sector / industry
- Brief overview of business including details of sector they work in
- What services they are looking for
- If there is anything else we can help them with
- Is there anything they struggle with or find challenging
- Other people working in the organisation and their roles
- When they are looking for the service to start
Virtual Support Fact Sheets
These cover all the services that we offer – from general administration and accounting to the social media and website work we undertake. The pricing is detailed on these sheets, therefore the transparency starts at this point, and also they will be aware that these are standard documents that are shared with all potential clients, so the pricing is the same across the board.
The Actual Meeting
You have fully prepared, so the best way forward now is to be personable, not over friendly, be clear on your skills and knowledge, be honest if they ask you to do something that you are not familiar with, and above all keep calm and ordered – let them see that you are a capable, hardworking and honest individual.
You must listen carefully and make your notes, this is where I find the New Client Info Form comes in useful, as I fill in the details as we speak, making notes and also ensuring that the information contained is exactly what my potential client wants included.
Once you have gathered all of the information, then you must explain carefully your terms and ways of working. As mentioned before, if they have asked you to undertake something you are not familiar with, then you should let them know. I am lucky in my network that even if I cannot do something, then I have the resources of my network to fall back on, so I always advise the my potential client of this so they know that I can look after all their needs.
I also explain how I am fully accountable, provide them with a copy of my Confidential Agreement, plus details of my membership of the Information Commissioners Office, which demonstrates my dedication to Data Protection.
Hopefully by this point, you are setting out the terms and conditions that you will be working for this new Client
Agreements and Contracts
Following my initial meeting I always send a “thank you” via email and attach a typed up Client Set Up Form, which now has the details of the particular services that we have spoken about, requesting that they check it is all in order.
Along with this I send a contract outlining the terms and conditions and including the pricing that we have agreed, plus of course the all important Confidentiality Agreement.
I also offer to post or drop off the documentation to the Client in order to make it easier for them if they prefer so they don’t have to print anything.
Deposits and Credit Limits – Protecting yourself
In some cases, I will ask for a deposit against the initial work, but generally this is if it is likely to be in excess of £100 for the first period of working, but as a rule I demonstrate my trust in them, by not asking, but agreeing that I will be providing them with the time sheet reports on a regular basis so they can see how their charges are being incurred. I always set a £50 limit on my initial services before invoicing as well to ensure that I do not carry out lots of tasks without getting paid. I have never come across anyone that has not agreed to this either. They are in business, so they understand cash flow and risk.
Once all the paperwork is in order, then you must ensure that your new client is fully aware of how to send you the tasks that you are undertaking.
A few tips …
- Never be afraid to ask questions about anything you do or offer revisions until they are completely satisfied.
- Arrange regular calls during the settling in period – this way you can talk through any requirements or issues and ensure you have a happy client
- Always let them know your available hours if they want to call you
- Never pay for anything on their behalf until you have an established relationship – even then I often ask for the funds prior to the purchasing!
- Be available – they might be just one of your clients as time goes on but they are still important and need to feel the same!
I hope that you have found this useful and am happy to share any of my template documents – please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org