Part II: Four Warning Signs that Your Potential Client Isn’t Ready
Last week, I introduced the series “How to Recognize Good Client Potential in Yourself and Others”. In Part I, we took a look at key success ingredients for professionals who are looking to hire the support of a Consultant or Virtual Assistant. This week, in Part II, we’ll view the potential relationship from the eyes of a Contractor looking to land a contract with a professional needing assistance. I recommend reading Part I again and respectfully submit these 4 “red flag” tell-tale signs that warn of un-readiness on the part of your potential client.
1) Persistence is important when courting a prospect, but if your potential client repeatedly postpones scheduled exploratory meetings and preliminarily consultations, it may be an indication of un-readiness. Find a way to engage with this prospective client without dedicating time on your calendar. E-marketing and Social Media are great for this.
2) Overly cluttered office space, especially in home offices that don’t have clear barriers between personal and business work space. Unless assistance with organizing this space (and addressing the mind-set that lies behind the clutter) is part of the scope of work, this clutter is likely to be a significant hurdle when requiring the client to focus on new projects.
3) No budgetary awareness is another warning sign. An RFP may require that you submit a budget along with your proposal, but your client should know what “ballpark” they’re in when it comes to paying for your services and other expenses related to the project. Discussing full project budgets upfront may not be the preference of your potential client. If not, proceed with caution. If your proposed rate is accepted be sure to require enough information about remaining funds and allocation options as they relate to successful completion of your contracted project. For example, Big Rollers, Inc. may agree to pay your asking rate for an event planning project, but have no remaining funds for marketing and promotional materials, signage, necessary staff, etc. Be sure that your contract clearly addresses what expenses are covered in your proposed Statement of Work.
4) Watch out for UMTs (Uncategorized and Miscellaneous Tasks). Good Virtual Assistants are flexible and can adjust quickly on a moment’s notice to a new or redirected task. Great Virtual Assistants empower clients to establish task management schedules. If you are invited to offer virtual assistance to a client who forecasts a long-term relationship (especially those who say the length of the project term is dependent on “how well things work out”) ask about their willingness to provide tasks on a weekly basis. This doesn’t mean that you only communicate once a week, rather it allows you optimize your service with a weekly plan. If weekly (or daily) task lists are out of the question, consider why. If the reasons point to disorganized time/project management and addressing that challenge is not a part of your contracted service then, again, proceed with caution.
Thank you for joining us on this brief journey. I hope the “How to Recognize Good Client Potential in Yourself and Others” Series was helpful and empowering. Your comments are welcomed below.