A few months ago I conducted my first video consultation with a prospective client.  I’m pleased to report that after the first 30 seconds, it was a great success.

The first 30 seconds however, were a disaster.  So much so, that I’m very surprised I even managed to successfully sign the client up for my services.

For some reason, I wasn’t expecting to conduct a video call – I looked like I had been hit by a bus.  I hadn’t managed to have a shower, get dressed, nor sort my hair out (I would have done these things if I hadn’t gotten side-tracked by CRMs half hour before the call started.). Heck, I even forgot the one thing that makes a woman feel whole – a bra!

Never the less, I went in there (mostly) confident and dazzled the client with my natural skills and honesty.

There were quite a few things that struck me during (and after) the consultation.  Things I wish I had known beforehand.

5 things you should know BEFORE conducting your first video consultation

Don’t underestimate the power of being all suited and booted

While my first consultation can be deemed successful, I immediately felt off-kilter and marginally uncomfortable because I wasn’t dressed appropriately.  Even the little things (no bra) made me feel somewhat vulnerable.

I’m not even sure if the client knew I wasn’t suited and booted (well, she does now) but it still made me feel at a disadvantage.  If she did know, she was brilliantly discreet about hiding her thoughts.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… don’t get side-tracked before an initial consultation; don’t start a task that doesn’t absolutely need to be done.  It won’t end well for you.  Make sure you’re ready in plenty of time and feel free to have a cuppa to hand.

Knowledge and research are CERTAINLY NOT underrated

Yes, consultations are about getting to know the client and what he/she wants from you.  However, do not assume that you are using the consultation to find out more about what the client wants and how they operate.

I did do some quick reading up and send the client a questionnaire prior to the consultation but quickly realised that I didn’t have enough information during the consultation.  As a result, my pre-consultation questionnaire is now a little more comprehensive and I know what research I now need to do before a consultation.

A written agenda is pretty vital

I did have a written agenda, but that first consultation was an eye opener.

It was based on the client’s answers to the initial questionnaire, but I went into far more detail than I needed to for some things but not enough for others.

Personally, a printed agenda would have been better for me because I could have annotated it as the conversation progressed, but I ended up having to remember the information and what was discussed to write up after the call.

Always let the client know what will happen following the consultation

During the consultation you will have discussed brief terms, payments, rates, and the ways you can work together. However, one bit of advice I didn’t come across before was let the client know what happens going forward.

My client onboarding is thorough.  It includes a post consultation brief (basically minutes of the meeting), along with data consent forms.  Once that is agreed the contracts come out. That is yet another lengthy process and another load of consent forms, information etc.

I actually did detail this but now realise I should have given a little more detail.

Honesty really is the best policy

I’m just starting out as a VA; I’m still getting all my processes in place.

I told my client that and she thanked me for my honesty.

The thing is… Where would I be if I wasn’t honest about it?

Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes.  However, being new makes it more likely that something won’t be just right.

Being honest about the fact I’m new to the industry probably helped me.  It meant that my client knew what she was getting, and also knows that I’m working on improving processes and if something changes suddenly, it’s because I’ve found a better way of working it.

Additionally, be honest if you don’t know how to do something.  If you want to learn then great, if you don’t tell them.  They’ll appreciate your honesty far more than your frustrations later on.

Being new to an industry doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it right first time.  But as long as you treat every error as a lesson it’ll all work out in the end.

I learned a lot from my first video consultation, and I’ll take the lessons forward to my next one.