Is It Professional For a Certified Virtual Assistant To Lead The Interview With Potential Clients?

A businesswoman who felt insulted when she learned that the certified virtual assistant she contacted had a consultation process asked me this question, whether it’s professional for a certified virtual assistant (VA) to interview a potential client. The businesswoman felt that the VA was out of line interviewing her, when she’d be the client paying the bills.

It’s actually a great question and one foundational principle hints at the answer. Let’s explore that.

Are you looking to tango or line dance?

A great book called Dance Lessons by Chip R. Bell and Heather Shea uses five types of dance as metaphors for business relationships.

They compare working relationships that require a great deal of trust, confidentiality, loyalty and the ability to “move as one very quickly, with minimal explanation or discussion” to the tango. At the other end of the spectrum, line dance working partnerships are not symbiotic but work when “the convenience and comfort of an ongoing relationship is preferable to a temporary, transaction-specific encounter”.

the relationship is going to be more successful if both partners are working to the same end.

Now, is the person who wants to “tango” better than the person who’s looking for a “line dance” partner?

Of course not. Naturally, however, the relationship is going to be more successful if both partners are working to the same end.

And that’s where it can get a bit complicated for the business owner seeking a VA, because with no industry-wide standards for virtual assistance – not even a single, accepted definition of what a VA is – there are many “flavors” of virtual assistants out there.

You have VAs who define virtual assistants as professionals who provide virtual, across-the-board administrative support to a few clients in long term, collaborative relationships.

And you have VAs whose businesses are built around providing project support. They may have repeat customers, but the relationship is more of a transactional one.

As the potential client, you need to know what you’re looking for.

When is an interview process appropriate? And how does an interview or consultation process benefit you?

As I’ve shared in many other posts on this blog, I hold the belief that fit is the single most important factor in determining whether the relationship between client and virtual assistant will be a happy one.

For the client who’s looking for occasional, transactional support, line dancing as it were, there’s probably no special need to spend a lot of time talking with the VA ahead of time. You just need to know if the VA has the necessary skills and is reliable and the VA needs to know whether you’re going to be pleasant or difficult to work with and whether you’ll pay promptly.

When a VA and client begin to work together closely without a good foundation, nobody is served well.

But for the client who’d like someone to tango with, it’s a very different story. In this close, collaborative type of working relationship, you need to explore whether the two parties really mesh. Are their work styles, their personalities, their missions, and their values complementary? Are the required skills there? Do you see a basis for trust in the other party?

The only way to find out is by talking at some length ahead of time, which includes the potential client having the opportunity to ask any questions he or she may have.

When a VA and client begin to work together closely without a good foundation, nobody is served well.

So, is it professional for a certified virtual assistant to interview potential clients? I think so. But as aforementioned, the extent of the interview or consultation process really depends on the structure of the VA’s practice – what level of support she offers.

The businesswoman I mentioned earlier was looking for a transactional working relationship, but she went to a certified virtual assistant who specialized in providing tango-style support to just a handful of clients. My advice is to do some research into virtual assistance ahead of time. Know what it is you want and need. Once you do, the smart thing is to reach out to businesses that cater to that.

Related Posts:

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS