10 questions you must ask when responding to leads if you want to succeed

Business coaching

Guess what? Setting up your business and telling people you exist just ain’t gonna cut it. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But there are some really important things you need to remember to ensure that you are not losing out on opportunities for your business, and instead are securing the clients you really want. How are you responding to leads?

In today’s day and age, we all have access to a huge number of resources – it’s so easy to ‘google’ something, email a forum, post on social media or check with a colleague. If you need business support, you’ll get a huge number of responses. But the quality of those responses can definitely leave much to be desired. Assumptions, laziness, arrogance, and misleading are words that I would use to describe some of the responses that you can get when you call out for a resource these days.

One of the main things I see people doing is responding to calls for help with a simple “yeah I want the job” type of response. Has that ever worked for you?

As a visual person, I liken this to someone at the bottom of a well calling for help.

[well - not obvious!] “Hello up there! I need help! Can you help me?”

Say there are three people at the top of the well. One person lets the person in the well know they are there and that they could help.

“Oh hello down there! I could help you!” they say as they resume reading their book on a lounge chair under an umbrella, sipping an ice cool glass of water with lemon and mint – certain that their helpless well-victim will reply with

“Oh yes please! I want YOU! What else can I do to get you to help me? I’m ALL yours! Hooray!!!”

The second person calls down

“Hey there! I can help you out too! I have all the rope ladder building skills you need – just visit my website for more details!”.

They might even throw down an ipad so the victim can do their homework. So thoughtful.

The third person throws down a rope ladder as they ask questions like

“Can you climb? Is it the top of the well that you wish to reach? What are you trying to achieve?”

Only the third person, who has taken some initiative, asked some questions and showcased their ability to help, will find out that the person in the well is actually in need of more light so that they can keep exploring and developing this exciting well in which they’ve found themselves. Person number 3 can then develop a fabulous tailored proposal for the person in the well and inspire their new client to always come straight to them when they need some extra light.

Which person are you? How can you be person number 3? If someone says they need support, ask questions.

Ask YOURSELF:

Does this task/job sound like something that I can and want to learn more about?
Does this sound like something that I can and want to do?
Can I clearly see what it is that the prospect is asking for?

Ask the PROSPECT:

Is my interpretation of your needs correct?
Can you clarify these gaps for me so I am really clear on what you need?
LISTEN – what are you hearing?
Based on this extra info, does this sound like something that I can and want to do?
If it is, how can I provide useful succinct information and examples to the client to make their decision making process as easy as possible?
If it is not, let the client know, and consider, can I possibly suggest alternative resources for them that/who COULD assist them?
Could my involvement here help me learn something or help build a relationship?
Don’t look at all questions that are asked of you as dollar signs. Sometimes you can learn from this discussion with the prospect and build a relationship.

Today I asked online (a Facebook group) for some support around business reporting. My question started off fairly vague but I was happy to see that some business owners contacted me directly to clarify exactly what my needs were. These business owners clearly wanted to help in some way – even if it wasn’t going to give them the job at the end of the day. They genuinely wanted to help and this instantly helps build rapport and confidence. They made useful suggestions and offered to keep an eye out for additional solutions to help ease my pain. Bingo!

Alternatively, a peer of mine asked a business support question in the same arena and was only contacted by people who wanted her needs to be moulded into what they wanted to offer. She knew what the parameters were that she needed to have met, but the people responding did NOT consider the 10 points above. They only looked at point 1 and failed to address the rest. Instead their list of points looked more like:

Does this task/job sound like something that I can and want to learn more about?

Hmm, almost.

Ask the client if they can modify their needs to meet what I’d like to offer.
Suggest how and why the client should do this.

The prospect found this presumptuous, as those responding did not think to ask first if she had considered the alternatives before they started trying to convince her that their solution and modification was the way to go. They wasted her time and their own so there were no winners there.

They also failed to do any homework to determine who it was that they were responding to and what her background and knowledge may be. In this case, the prospect would have definitely considered the alternatives that those people suggested as those alternatives were in line with the services that she would normally offer. She needed assistance because the parameters of this task were outside those of what she normally worked within.

Obviously there are times when the prospect is looking for ideas and potential scenarios – but unless they have specified that in their call for assistance, you should not assume it. If anything is unclear – ask first, suggest later. Do your homework. Don’t just show up and expect people to bend backwards and mold their needs to yours so that they can have the pleasuring of working with you.

Fly above the pack and make the choice easy for your ‘prospect’, or should I say, ‘new client’.


Rosie Shilo

Rosie Shilo

Owner at Virtually Yours

I own and operate a Virtual Assistant Network called Virtually Yours Virtual Assistance - www.virtuallyyours.com.au and I co-own the Australian Virtual Business Network. www.avbn.com.au My husband and I run a Website Development company called Webtastic Designs. I love working online and supporting other businesses with the growth of their business ideas and passions.

Virtually Yours

Virtually Yours

Business administration and support


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