One thing I hate as an introvert is being put on the spot. I’m not a quick-on-my-feet thinker. I need to prepare for calls and meetings. I don’t think this is unusual among introverts. There is some research that introverts have longer neural pathways for processing things.
When I do well is when I’ve had some quiet time to think about something first. It doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to brain storming or that interacting with others won’t grow my understanding. Rather having done that preparation means that hearing what others say can spark new perspectives and ideas on the spot. Something I don’t always manage to do if I’m coming in cold to an idea.
In setting up my business I’ve made intentional choices that work with that need for preparation. I’ve thought a lot (would you expect anything less from an introvert!) about how I can design my business to work with my strengths. These are four relatively simple changes you could make now to your business to support that need for preparation if you are providing coaching or consulting services.
04. Require people to complete pre call questions
Before I get on a call to someone, particularly if it’s a new person, I require them to complete a set of questions. These questions aren’t onerous and I’m refining them as I grow.
There is a balance to get here. You want to ask for enough information so you can prepare for the call, without putting people off. This will vary depending on the nature of the call and to an extent how booked out you are. For a sales call you may want some simple introductory information. But the more you tailor it to your business the better. What will help you decide if you are a good fit for the potential client and if they are a good fit for you.
For ongoing client calls you may have more in depth homework that you want clients to complete and send to you before the call. For me, because I work with introverts, this benefits my clients as much as it does me. They get a chance to gather their thoughts before we start talking. Leading to deeper and better conversations when we do meet.
With sales calls, the questionnaire has the added bonus that people who are more serious about working with me specifically usually put more detail into their responses than those who are just thinking about getting some support from someone. Not always and I’ll still get on the phone regardless of what people have written but it’s a handy indicator to have.
02. Limit how soon people can book with you.
I have my booking system set up so that people can’t book in with me the same day. The earliest that they can book is 48 hours. It can be even more than this as I don’t do calls every day. I purposely schedule days when I don’t have to talk to people unless I really want to.
When you are starting out in your business, there can be this fear that if you don’t get on the phone straight away then you’ll miss out on the sale. My take on this is if people aren’t willing to wait for the call then they aren’t my ideal client. For me it’s a red flag about what it’s going to be like working with them. Of course there are going to be exceptions. Particularly if you provide services fixing urgent problems. But it’s very rare for people I work with to have these kinds of problems.
I also like to think of this as great practice for me in putting in places strong boundaries. Something that is so necessary to do as an introvert in business.
03. Doing my own homework
As well as the questions I ask clients, I like to do my homework. As part of my initial questionnaire I ask people for their website address and social media handles.
Before I hop on a call with a new person, I want to have had a good look around their website. I want to see what they are currently selling, how its packaged and the outcomes they deliver for their clients. This isn’t so much about identifying their problems and coming up with solutions. Sure I might pick up some problems straight away – particularly if they are undercharging. But the main aim of this work is to get an understanding for the person’s business and what they offer
I may also check them out on social media to get a feel for their personality. I’m not a fit for everyone and they aren’t a fit for me. Though I’m having to do this less as I get better at my messaging and attracting my niche.
04. Giving myself permission to say I don’t know.
This has been a big one for me. When I first started working I thought I had to have all the answers. If I didn’t have the answer on the spot that the person asking would think I wasn’t up to doing my job. Which led to less than ideal answers and I’m sure highlighted my gaps much more than me saying I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that. Plus made me feel even more like an imposter.
Luckily I got this out of my system while I still worked in corporate. Now I’m very comfortable when I don’t have an answer to just say I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that a bit more and get back to you.
Using Scheduling Tools
The first two suggestions on this list are much easier to do if you use a calendar booking system. Most calendar booking systems have the option to provide a questionnaire when people book and these can stop people booking if they don’t fill in at least some details. It’s just another tool to reduce people booking who aren’t serious about your services.
The calendar booking systems also have settings about how far in advance people need to book. So appointments don’t even appear within 48 hours for people looking to book with me. These systems have other great features for introverts, like reducing back and forth emails which can be energy zaps and scheduling gaps between calls for a quick recharge.
I use Acuity but other option include Calendly and 10to8.
All of these are pretty simple changes to make but have had a big impact on how good I feel about my business. The choices also mean I’m in a much better position to serve my clients.
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