One of several frequently asked questions in my VA Coaching business is how to find clients. Today, I’d like to share several things to think about when looking to attract and find clients.
- Who are you looking for? So many VAs market their businesses to ‘everyone’. That’s probably not very realistic – instead, look at your current client list, services you offer, who you’d like to do business with, and do some research to find out who they connect with – like CPAs are good people to know if you’re looking to connect with attorneys; or mortgage lenders if you’re looking for REALTORS, etc. Once you know who you’re looking for you can decide where to find them.
- Where can you find them? Talk to current clients in that same industry and find out if they have an industry association (like IVAA.org and VANetworking.com is to VA’s), online community, trade magazine, certification options, etc. If you don’t have current clients in that industry – find some and check out their websites or give them a call and ask them some questions about their industry and how to connect to them. Then see if their associations have local chapters in your area where you can network with them, or advertise in areas they’re sure to find you (article submissions to their industry newsletters, etc.)
- What sort of media (especially social) are they involved with? Look at LinkedIn for groups catering to their industry, or Twibes, etc., to see if there are ways to connect to large groups of your target market for little to no cost.
- Get connected and start building relationships. Once you find out who you’re looking for, where they hang out, and what sort of media attracts them, it’s time to start building relationships so they can get familiar with you and your expertise. You can do this by writing articles that speak to their challenges and problems, problems that you can solve for them quite easily. Once they realize that you’re the expert they’ve been looking for they WILL start coming to you. You can also take those articles and turn them into blog postings, or 20-30 minute presentations for you to share at a local chamber, or group networking event where your target market, or those who can refer them to you, may be hanging out.
- As your marketing budget allows, craft a marketing message (something that speaks to ‘what’s in it for them’) and use it everywhere you can – brochure, tag line, website, business card, etc., anything that can be used in a way to connect you to people who want and need your services.
Okay, so that’s a good start in finding where your potential clients might be lurking – now what? They send you a request through your website, or call you on the phone –YIKES, what do you say, how can you come off professionally and close the deal?
- If you have an opportunity to research them and their company before you speak to them personally, this is the best. If it’s someone’s referral, or a website request with an indication of their company name or URL, see what you can find out about them, so that you can look sharp by mentioning something about their company during the interview.
- When speaking to the client, by phone or email – the most important thing is to ask how they found you. Keep good notes so that you’ll know what form of marketing is working best. Then devote more of your time, money and efforts to those things that attract the most ‘ideal’ clients.
- Next, have a set of interview questions prepared to ask each prospect. If you can control the conversation and steer them towards questions that will identify for you whether or not they’re a good fit (Do they seem like the type that will micro-manage you, or do they only seem interested in pricing?) and get good information about their needs and how you can solve their problems.
- Try and stay away from quoting a price until you feel comfortable that you have all the information you need to give them pricing/rates in a way that fits into what they’re looking to hear – do they work with a budget – have they worked with an independent contractor before – if they don’t solve their problem, what will happen? All open-ended questions that help them close the sale themselves.
- Don’t be afraid to suggest someone else if you’re not the right fit. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a VA say they can do something they can’t. If you’re not proficient in the area of support the client requires, consider other options like sending them to someone you know who is an expert in that area, or consider using a sub-contractor, etc. It’s not worth the possible bad feelings, or tarnishing your reputation to try and do something for which you’re not the expert
Finding and attracting the right clients takes time and knowledge – not only educating yourself on new technologies and options available, but in making sure that your message reaches the prospective client that is ideal for your business.
Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker, and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s). For her FREE article, “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?” Visit: http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: http://vabizcoach.com/contact-us/.
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