5 Steps To A Winning Clarity Call

You have probably heard of Discovery Calls, Exploration Calls or Consultation Calls before right? Me too and I used these terms until about a month ago when someone I follow on Instagram suggested we call it what it really is, A Clarity Call. Yes! This is that call you have with your prospect after they express interest in working with you.

I used to dread these calls. They made me so nervous and I always wished I could avoid them and just start doing work for a client. However, that practice ended in tears. You don’t want to embark on a project, or initiate a relationship without going through this very important call. When I finally figured it out, I changed the way I approached it all and call after call I started becoming less nervous, finding it easier to say ‘No’ to projects that were not a fit and most importantly serving my clients from a point where I had a clear understanding of their vision, mission, values and needs. I started following a process from booking to after the call had ended where I made sure both my prospects and I were clear on the requirements and relationship overall. Here are the major steps I followed then and still follow today.

  1. I schedule bookings for calls directly from my website. One of the very apparent Call To Actions (CTAs) I have on my previous website is the ability to book a call with me. It immediately opens up my calendar with selected time slots someone can choose from to book for a 30 minute call and it sends a notification to me to either approve or propose another time.
  2. I send an email to the prospect after booking the call detailing what they should expect from the call. I realised that many people hop on these calls with no idea what to expect and both the VA and the future client walk away from it feeling like they didn’t get exactly what they wanted from the call and particularly for the prospect, not seeing any value that could come from any further engagement. So, I make sure I share the structure of the call, some of the questions I will ask and the desired outcome of this call.
  3. On the day of the call, about 30 minutes before, I send reminders to the clients. These could be automatic using my calendar scheduler or, if I have the client’s number, I just drop them a quick reminder message. I do this because I know life happens, people get busy and to also remind my future client that I value their time and would also love if they valued mine by showing up for the call on time. Sometimes the client might have forgotten or may be facing an emergency, so it will be good to be reminded and will make a very good first impression for you on your client as their future VA.
  4. During the call, you need to follow what I like to call the 80/20 rule. I allow my prospect to do 80% of the talking whilst I listen. I ask them to share with me about their business, their vision, mission, short-term and long-term goals. I also ask about their challenges and areas they think they would want to fit me in. Most importantly, I ask them about the value they expect from our working together. It could be them not feeling overwhelmed, getting to spend more time with their loved ones, having better engagement with their online audiences or even getting more sales. At the end of the call, I share with them my process and rate estimate, how we will work together and also let them know of our immediate next action steps.
  5. After the call, within 24 hours, I make sure I write an email thanking them for their time, reminding them what we discussed and most importantly reminding them of our next steps. Usually that is our way of confirming a proposed scope of work or initiating negotiations around my rate.

The goal after step #5 is to make sure I remain at the top of my future client’s mind and to put the ball in their court should they need to make the next step. By rehashing their problem and shedding light on the value I will deliver, I want to make sure they don’t put it off as something that they will get back to some other time by installing some urgency to it so that they prioritse making a decision. At the end of the day, I want to have an understanding of my future client and clarity on the kind oof transformation they are looking for from our relationship. I also want my future client to have a clear understanding of what I do, my process and how we can move forward to the next steps.

…and that’s it! What do you think? What’s your process like as a VA/Freelancer/Consultant? Maybe you are a business owner finding yourself on the other side of this call: What has your experience been?

Small wins matter

My 4-year old niece recently graduated to a 200-piece puzzle. Since she is now a pro at her 100-piece one, my sister thought this would be a sufficient “upgrade” to the next level. She was ripe for a new challenge. But when the puzzle arrived, opened, and the pieces taken out of the box, everyone seemed overwhelmed. I remember thinking, “No way I am putting myself through this” and my sister actually said, “I am not even going to try” But seeing our little girl also feeling overwhelmed by all these pieces we decided to give it a go together to encourage her and show her it was possible. She is that kind of person who just wants to watch you do it wants before she tries it out on her own. And so we did…

Did we not sweat?! πŸ˜…

It took 3 grown ups plus a 4 year old a whole two hours to put together this puzzle. The celebration after fitting in that last piece made us realise that this wasn’t a small thing for a 4-year old to accomplish alone! It really was the definition of a challenge.

Two days later, I decided to try out the puzzle again with my niece. Once again, I felt overwhelmed but I was ready to tackle it. I was looking at the picture and trying to put together pieces that had the same pattern. I told my niece to do the same. She liked doing it this way because, even though she didn’t have the entire puzzle completed, she was putting together small related pieces in groups which we eventually started slowly joining together to complete the puzzle. And guess how long it took us?

An evening plus two hours the following day! πŸ˜‚

After we were done and looking at our masterpiece the process was just replaying in my head and I was thinking of how sometimes our plans in business and life are like these puzzles. We have so many pieces that we need to put together before we see the final complete picture. How many times do we want to give up because we are overwhelmed by not being able to see this final picture yet, we can put our energies in joining the smaller, related pieces which give us those small wins. Small wins are worth celebrating too you know!

Your small wins matter. Celebrate them!

Read that again.

Sometimes we think that it’s impossible to achieve something because it appears as if we don’t have everything we need when, in fact, all the pieces of the puzzle are there. There is no one way to solving a problem. In the case of our puzzle, we actually realised that we work better when we start with the edges or perimeter. However, my niece didn’t quite get this method and preferred to join similar looking pieces in groups. At the end of the day, after we joined them our different methods brought about the completed masterpiece.

As you work through your business, remember that it is made up of many moving pieces and your method of working around issues, even in a team setting, can be unique to you and it’s OK. What is important is taking those small action steps (piece by piece) towards coming up with that bigger picture. That means communicating your progress and getting help fitting in the missing pieces. Our commitment determines whether or not we are going to eventually going to fit the right pieces in those missing gaps. More than anything, we should discount or downplay the small achievements we make along the way because they are leading us to that desired outcome.

I cut my hair with scissors…

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to cut my hair. Why? Because between the baby and being a VA, I honestly don’t think I can squeeze in time for some natural hair TLC. I figured I needed to make the best use of my time and avoid feeling overwhelmed by my to-do list. If I could add a few more minutes or even an hour to my day by shaving this head off I was going to do it. So I asked my sister to cut my hair and she said, “Sure” and I waited…πŸ™‡β€β™€οΈ

A few days passed and thought to myself, “Is she busy or what?” but never asked her. I just thought, you know what? Maybe I don’t even need her help. I can actually do this on my own. So I looked for a pair of scissors and cut through my hair mercilessly. I repeat…mercilessly.

When my sister saw me she exclaimed, 😱 “Ko what did you do?!”😱

Me: “I cut my hair. You were taking time” πŸ’

My sister: “With what?” πŸ˜‚

Me: “Duh! Scissors”

My sister: “I was going to use clippers” 🀷

Me: “Wait…what?

I cannot even begin to describe how silly I felt. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Anyway, she had to try to salvage the mess I had left in my head with the clippers so that I could at least look decent.

As I looked into the mirror today at my now not-so-bad haircut I was just thinking about how even in business we sometimes make all kinds of messes when we try to figure stuff out on our own instead of asking for help and just allowing those who are skilled to take the wheel. Not that my sister was a professional (though she secretly believes she is, thanks Covid19πŸ™„) in my case but she had a better view of my head and better tools to carry out the task. I just grew impatient, didn’t communicate my needs properly to help her show up for me exactly when I needed her to and ended up with a head that appeared like it had been shaved with a bread knife πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ – leaving her to clean up the mess.

What problem are you trying to solve on your own in your business today? Are you equipped with the right skills and tools to give you the results you are looking for? Yes, sometimes we will try to solve sticky problems on our own to save costs – but the next time you find yourself wanting to do this, think about whether you are making the best use of your time and if the final result is worth the effort & time you put in.

Have you been trying to work on brainstorming a business idea on your own but don’t seem to be going anywhere? Talk to a business coach or mentor

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out how to design some nice graphics for your promo material? Set yourself free mama & hire a graphic designer

Do you have a lecture you would want transcribed into a typed transcript? Hire a Virtual Assistant

Are you overwhelmed with keeping up with responses to your content you are publishing on your social media? My friend, don’t leave your audience hanging. I live for tasks like that, hire ME! 😜

Anyway the point I am trying to drive home is this:

Let’s normalize asking for help in business and in life.

She’s been waiting for me…

Around 3 years ago a friend from high school called to tell me she wanted to introduce me to someone she believed I could work with as a Virtual Assistant. Now, situations like these always made me nervous because I found myself scared of disappointing the person who introduced us if things eventually didn’t work out. It’s a fear stemming from back in the day when I was still trying to find my way around the VA industry and…OK it’s a long story for another day. So let’s focus people: High school friend introduced me to a prospect and I scheduled the call (with knees tremblingπŸ˜‚).

A few days later we were on a discovery call and I must say, it’s probably one of the most memorable discovery calls I have ever had. This woman on the other end of the line was humble, energetic, loving, kind, respectful and filled with so much clarity of her vision. I vividly remember how warm she made me feel. I took that call in the evening, must’ve been around 8PM, and I went to bed smiling because I was ready to sign her up THAT DAY. The call had been scheduled to last just 30 minutes but went over 2 hours as we eagerly bounced ideas back and forth for her upcoming project she wanted me to help her with. I was beyond excited to get started after our very lengthy conversation.

Over the coming months, I found myself working with her and other remarkable people to bring to life her dream of touching the lives of young people through drama and song in the fight against drug and substance abuse. It was such an inspiring and transformational experience, not just for me, but also for nearly everyone who participated in this project. It’s also been one of the highlights of my VA journey.

Last week we reconnected after months of no contact and she sent me a voice note which brought back memories of that first time we talked back in 2017. Only that this time around she was saying, “I am so happy you are fully back at work – I have been waiting for YOU” And here I was thinking she probably moved on and found someone else. But no, she said she wanted to move forward with me. These are the most humbling moments of any virtual assistant am sure – to know that there are people who value what I do so much that they can confidently say, “I’m willing to wait for her” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my clients’ goals to be delayed – reason why I always try to give referrals whenever I can do so in confidence. It’s just that moments like these give validation that the work we do as VAs matters.

Throughout the week this got me thinking about the kind of experience I would want to give those I work with: clients, colleagues, other service providers. Have I been doing enough? How do I leave them feeling after each encounter with me? How can I continue to give them a positive memorable experience? I could write a book about the million and one ways I try to do this for my own clients. I just hope that I am not taking it too far πŸ˜‚

Anyway, today I just want to encourage you to audit your professional relationships and see if there are ways you could improve them because you just don’t want customers for today, tomorrow or next month. You want clients who will be your partners for life. Those are the best. They will advocate for you more than you will ever do for yourself. When I hop on a discovery call with a prospective client I am not hoping to be done with them in the near future or by end of the contract date. Something in me always seems to see me working with them forever. Unconsciously, I already see myself as part of the team and don’t want to hold back brainstorming ideas and solutions to address whatever problems are presented – even if the prospect doesn’t eventually sign up. Sigh…you can call it my weakness which (almost always) has led to amazing relationships. This is the experience I want to leave them with.

Speaking of being memorable: A woman I respect A LOT, is conducting a Masterclass on Personal Branding on October 10th for African women leaders. Thembe Khumalo of Brandbuilder is my favorite voice of reason when it comes to being a memorable brand. She is very passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience with African women and in the African context. So do yourself a favour, click on link below the video for more details about registration, sign up and elevate your brand going forwardπŸ˜‰

https://www.instagram.com/brandtobuildco/

Til next time…smile, be humble, be kind & be memorable😊

Fear means GO!

Have you ever found yourself self-sabotaging against taking the next best step in your life or business and continuously procrastinating because you are waiting for things to be (somehow) perfect? Well…I am there right now.

Just over two weeks ago I wrote my first blog post for this new website. I intended to launch the website on the 1st of September. However, that hasn’t happened yet. I am scared to share the new site with more people because I fear it may not be perfect.

Funny thing is this: I design websites for a living. Yes! I actually share some of the websites I have designed here. So what’s the big deal, right?

I sat down with myself and asked: Tariro, is it really the website or the changes coming with the website that you are afraid of sharing? You see, I am not just moving from the website that many have known for years i.e. twenty47va.com. I am dropping some services I was offering. I am focusing on just a few specialised services. There are a lot of things I ask myself upon coming to terms with this:

Will I find the right clients for these new services?

Are my old clients feeling like I just abandoned them?

What if I fail to impress my new clients?

…and so many more questions.

But as I type this, I am realising that it’s just fear that’s trying to take over. Fear is trying to prevent me from embracing change or allowing my clients to do the same. Fear is trying to remind me of the many ways things could go wrong so that I fail to see the many ways in which they could also go right.

As I type this I remember the two mantras I always go back to whenever I am gripped by fear:

FEAR MEANS GO!

FEEL THE FEAR & DO IT ANYWAY!

This is what I tell clients who find themselves on the edge about hiring me or anyone else as a VA. They know they need help but they are just not sure if establishing a relationship with a VA will work for them. I always say: Try it out for a week, two weeks or a month. You can always cancel if it’s not working for you. But you don’t want to be bogged down and drowning in tasks and projects you could have otherwise delegated to someone else.

Like me trying to launch this new website, hiring a VA is a new thing. You are bound to be afraid of many things that could go wrong. But there are many things that could go right and it could be one of the best decisions you ever made for your business and life.

That said, I am ready to tell the world what’s new in my world.

Let’s do this!

I have changed

Hi there!

Since this is my very first blog post here I thought maybe it would be good to start by introducing myself. But then remembered there are many other parts on this site where I did that so it wasn’t necessary. You can check this out here. So I am just going to jump into the gist of this post.

I recently had a baby. He just turned 2 months and has got to be the most adorable human being I have ever set my eyes on. I could look at him all day and all night (maybe except when he is crying his eyes out from colicπŸ™ˆ). My life revolves around him at the moment. He is literally my boss. Just check out how clings onto me like a koala. Little boy loves the cuddles 😍

But before he came into my life, I was a completely different person, with completely different priorities, bosses and little humans I found most adorable. My life really revolved around my work and I absolutely loved how I could get stuff done at any time of the day, anywhere I wanted. Heck, I was known as the Twenty47 Virtual Assistant for over 6 years! When my clients called, I went in running. I handled all kinds of tasks and definitely loved a good challenge. I couldn’t even imagine what life would be like not doing what I was doing. And then the day came… I was busy being pregnant when I suddenly felt I could not be that Twenty47 Virtual Assistant more. Don’t make me delve into the “Why?” You all know how most pregnant people sleep and are generally get lazy? Well, I am most and let’s just that fast became my reality. Fast forward 9 months later, my bundle of joy is here and I’m reminiscing what a dear client told me during one of our conversations about the new boots I was about to wear – the boots of motherhood. She told me I was going to change – that I could have this baby and start wanting different things altogether. Not just in my personal life, but in my business two.

Crazy, I thought. She’s just crazy. Twenty47 Virtual Assistant is my baby, I will never let go of it. If she went through that that’s her story. As soon as I give birth to this baby I am giving myself a month then I hop back into the game. You know, start being the awesome VA my clients know me to be.

Oh boy am sure the universe laughed πŸ˜‚ Because, all I can tell you as I sit here typing this at 2AM praying my baby doesn’t wake up before I finish is that SHE WAS RIGHT! I look at my life now and I see no way I can pull off 10 hour working days and even put in some hours in the middle of the night to meet tight deadlines. I look at the website for Twenty47 Virtual Assistant and it seems strange to me. The name of my business is no longer relatable to my current situation. So many things have changed and I am going to have to need more flexibility in my work. That’s my truth.

So I have had to sit down with myself and take inventory of how I can best serve as a virtual assistant and new mother because that’s really who I am now. Don’t get me wrong. Why I serve as a VA hasn’t changed. It’s only just been extended. Flexibility has also been a very big part of my Why, so with the new baby, I don’t want to be in a position where I end up becoming overwhelmed in my roles as mother and as a VA. That’s why I have had to have these honest conversations with myself about how I can move forward from here, what I can and cannot do, how I can provide the best value. That’s why I have moved from being the Twenty47 Virtual Assistant to being…well…just me, Tariro The Virtual Assistant! Not that I wasn’t me this whole time – trust me, I always give my authentic self 100% to my clients. And, as much as the journey has taken another turn, in a different direction, these things remain: I am still a Virtual Assistant. I am still serving. I am still chasing excellence.

But I didn’t want to move forward before I shared all this with you. I didn’t want to leave you wondering: What about Twenty47 Virtual Assistant? I just needed you know that the vision of supporting small businesses through flexible, economical and professional solutions is still alive. The direction of the journey has changed, however, because my circumstances have changed and I can no longer remain the same. There are services I offered in the past that I can’t offer future clients anymore. There are new new services I am ready & excited to offer too.

I have changed and look forward to sharing more stories about my current work and getting the opportunity to serve those special clients who will find my new service offering valuable.

If you have been part of the very supportive community that has been following my journey with Twenty47 Virtual Assistant and cheering me on for the past 6 years, THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you. If this is your first time stumbling upon me and my posts, WELCOME! I will try my best to make every encounter worth your while.

Otherwise, remember to keep smiling…it looks amazing on you πŸ˜‰

P.S. I have finished this post and my little human is still sleeping soundly. Now, that’s something to smile about, right? πŸ™Œ