This wasn’t technically submitted as a Dear Gritty VA question, but it was a question asked of me by one of my reviewers who is helping me with my new and updated “Client Consultation Process.” However, it was a perfect question for my column and so I thought I’d turn it into a Dear Gritty VA post and share my answer here…
Dear Gritty VA:
What do you do in those situations when a client wants to jump ahead or step over your processes in a consultation? –MO
Ideally (meaning “in a perfect world” LOL), your qualifying and preliminary processes and your marketing to your ideal clients and target market would attract just those who are the right fit. Those folks tend to be really serious about getting your help, committed to doing whatever it takes to get there and trust that you as the expert have a reason for doing things the way you do. Because of this, they aren’t as likely to try and take short-cuts with your steps.
But nothing is foolproof. All we can do is the best we can to make sure our time is reserved especially for the best qualified client candidates. You should expect that there are always going to be a few who aren’t quite a match who make it through and put a wrench in the works. They aren’t bad people or anything like that. They might just have priorities that aren’t fitting with ours. They might not understand the value of going through the process. Whatever the reason, it is what it is. Nothing is going to follow your script exactly like you want or intend, every single time.
But it’s always our job to help our prospective partners better understand. We have to be able to think on our feet and do our best to rein the conversation back into the order of our processes and standards. This is so that you and the client can make the best-fitting decision possible for both of you. When that’s not possible, you have to just chalk it up to not being right for each other at that place in time.
My best advice is to help these clients better understand the reasons for your process. Ask them to trust in it and explain that you will fully and openly talk about what it is they want to jump ahead to when you get to that part. If they are impatient with that, it can mean that they will be difficult to work with anyway.
It can be difficult to resist the urge to cave-in here, but I’ve found this to be a really important standard to maintain. The good news is that most of the time, people just need a little reassurance that you recognize the importance or relevance of the thing they want to get to and that you will get to that part of the conversation and pay special attention to it. How you give that reassurance and guide the conversation back on track is going to be up to your own unique voice and style.
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