Getting prepared for your client meetings is crucial if you want to build long-lasting relationships with your customers and consistently make enough sales. Here is how to conquer your first client meeting by following these simple steps and using these easy tips.
9 Steps to prepare for a client meeting
So, how exactly do you prepare for a client meeting? Here are the nine steps to complete:
- Get Prepared Properly: First and foremost, you will need to get prepared you’re your client meeting properly. This includes everything from location to client and subject research to materials. In other words, make sure that you do your homework well. When you set up a location for your meeting, always make sure that you double-check that it is a good place and that it will be available exactly when you need it. Do as much research on your client as you can. You need to know who they are, what their background is, what industry they operate in, and so on. You should also do enough research on the subject you will be discussing so that you can offer the necessary insight to your client during the meeting. And, of course, make sure that you bring all the materials you need for this meeting including documents, presentations, research papers, and so on.
- Make A Good First Impression: The first thing you should do once you arrive is make a good first impression. It is virtually a fact by this point that first impressions can be the defining factors for the sale you make or don’t make during the meeting and the relationship you develop with the client in the future. Whether you arrive on time or not will show how punctual you are. How well you are dressed and whether you are groomed or not will show how much you care about your presentation. How you talk will show your professionalism. In other words, everything you do contributes to how your client will perceive and how well your meeting will go.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Have Some Small Talk: Yes, believe it or not, most of your customers will probably not want to feel like they are being sold to – or at least, they don’t want to feel like they are only seen as numbers instead of people. This is why having some small talk before you get down to business can really set the mood for your client meeting. That being said, you need to find a unique approach to every client you meet up with. This means that some of them will actually want to talk about business immediately. Your job is to carefully try out the small talk and see if they want to talk a little or they really want to get down to business. Follow your intuition and don’t jump to conclusions instantly.
- Have A Script Ready for Your First Few Times: Speaking of getting down to business, you might want to consider having scripts for different scenarios to be ready to do the right thing in response to a particular action from the side of your client. By the way, scripts can be written by a writer you can hire on a writing service reviews site like Online Writers Rating. For example, imagine this scenario: you have made a sale to your client, but you want to make another sale to them (e.g. an accessory to accompany the product they just bought). So, what will you do? How should you act? If you push too much, you might lose your client which means they won’t want to buy from you anymore in the future. But what if they are willing to buy the accessory? Having a script with responses will help you figure all of this out just in time.
- Don’t Set High Expectations Immediately: One of the biggest mistakes made during client meetings is setting expectations too high immediately. If you ask too much from your client right away, you might lose them just as quickly. For example, if your client feels like you are giving them nothing of value and already expecting them to agree to whatever you propose to them, they will be more likely to just try and get away from you as fast as possible. You need to be the one making compromises – or at least, you need to show that you are willing to make compromises even if you don’t actually make them in the end. The point is to expect the least but aim high which will motivate you to find new ways to communicate with your clients correctly and find new ways to approach them.
- Listen, Listen, Listen, Listen: Another huge mistake made during client meetings involves talking, so much talking from your side and no talking from the side of your client. What you should do instead is listen to your clients, listen to what they want and need, listen to the questions they have and answer them, and continue listening. You need to let them speak while you listen to what they have to say rather than being the only one talking. Remember that your client meeting is primarily a conversation between you and your client – not your own monologue. It’s about finding that connection that will allow you to sell your product to your customer and give them what they want while also making them feel like they had a good deal.
- Take Notes: Taking notes might sound like a redundant step, but you will definitely not regret it in the long run. This aspect of having client meetings is often overlooked, but it can actually help you improve your meetings significantly. If you take notes in your first meeting and all the following ones, you will be able to compare how well they went and then decide what needs to be changed to make them better. Moreover, you will also be able to recall what you talked about easier. What were your client’s main concerns? What did you answer to their questions? Even how long your meeting was can be helpful for organizing future meetings. Anything you deem particularly insightful should be scribbled down in your notepad or in the Notes app on your phone.
- Wrap It Up: After you have made the deal and talked through all the necessary points, you need to wrap up your meeting. This might be just as important as starting your meeting correctly. It’s somewhat like watching a movie. A good first scene sets the mood, but if the ending is bad, you might come out of the cinema with a negative impression even if everything else was great. Approach your client meetings the same way and make sure every stage is done well. After you are finished, politely say your goodbyes and let your client leave before leaving yourself. Even if you met up in a place that isn’t your office, treat it like it is and make sure that you leave only after your client left.
- Follow Up: If you thought that this is the last thing you need to do for a client meeting, then there is a surprise for you. Your next step should be a follow up to ensure that your client got everything that you decided on during the meeting. You might even manage to set up another meeting and maybe even sell something else, but don’t get your hopes too high immediately. Instead, focus on developing a lasting relationship with your client. You want to have a returning customer instead of constantly having to acquire new ones (customer acquisition is always more difficult and expensive than customer retention).
Tips for a successful client meeting
Along with the steps you should take, there are some valuable tips or best practices that you can use to make the preparation – and then the meeting itself – smoother:
- Follow Your Agenda: Before even organizing your first client meeting, you need to decide what your agenda is – and then follow it. To put it simply, your agenda consists of your values, the message you want to be sending, the reputation you want to have or the image you want to maintain, and so on. What is the purpose of this meeting you are having? Do you want to simply sell them whatever you are selling or is there something else to it? Maybe you also want your client to donate to a noble cause – a donation for a charity you might be working with, for example. Having an agenda is important because it gives you a way to stand out of the crowd and appeal to your client more, so don’t overlook it.
- Stay Focused: You might be indulging in small talk with your client or discussing some of the details about the meeting’s topic, but you should always stay focused. No matter what, try to direct your conversation towards what you want and what you need to talk about. You have a certain timeframe, so you need to be done with the meeting in time. You might also have a boss who will be angry if you don’t actually make a sale at this meeting. Your client also has a schedule of their own and might not have the time to just sit around and talk. Your responsibility is to make sure that your conversation is going somewhere and that you are actually getting where you both need to get to.
- Dress Accordingly: As mentioned earlier, first impressions matter. Dressing accordingly should be one of your top priorities when getting ready for a meeting. Your clothes are your face (and your face is your face too). Even subconsciously, your client will be making conclusions about you based on what you are wearing. This doesn’t mean that you need to have the most expensive suit or dress on. On the contrary, dressing accordingly means that you are dressed in formal clothes that look formal: freshly washed, properly ironed, and not provocative. Also, make sure your hair looks good too as does your face (e.g. a bad breath or brightly yellow unbrushed teeth are just as bad as a dirty pair of shoes).
- Be on Time: Speaking of first impressions, being on time is another element that will ultimately determine whether you are successful within your meeting or not. If you are late, you are not punctual. If you are not punctual, you are not professional. If you are not professional, you can’t be treated seriously. If you can’t be treated seriously, you will lose a client. If you have something important scheduled before your client meeting and you think that you might not be able to arrive on time, maybe it is better to cancel the meeting altogether and reschedule it for a different day. Your client might not be entirely pleased, but at least this will be better than being late.
- Keep Your Cool: Being professional is definitely not the easiest thing to do. Is this the moment when you should ignore all emotions and only rely on cold calculations? Is this the moment when you need to take into account the circumstances of your client and maybe do them a favor? What is it? How should you act? Well, more often than not, it is better to keep your cool. Even if your client is furiously screaming at you, you must keep your cool and show that you will not respond equally. And it’s not just important for your reputation – it’s important for your relationship with the customer. Negative experiences can be smoothed out by treating them reasonably and showing that you are willing to have a reasonable discussion with your client rather than arguing.
- Actively Ask Questions: Yes, it is necessary to let your client ask questions – but you should ask them too. You will probably be the one doing most of the talking, so there is no way your client will tell you everything you want to hear from them. It’s your job to ask these questions and hear them say it. For example, asking whether or not they have any questions will actually show that they do indeed have questions. You can ask your client whether they have any concerns about the shipping of your product or about the return policy, and so on.
- Offer Value for Free: As discussed earlier, setting high expectations is not a very good tactic. And offering value for free is kind of related to that. If you can show that you have something for your client that you are willing to give away without any strings attached, they will be instantly drawn into what else you have to say. Think about a small gift that you can give them at the beginning of the meeting. Or, on the contrary, something you can give in the end to make the memory of the experience better. Anything that will show them that they matter to you will work.
- Discuss Their Issues: Every customer has their own pain points. Maybe they are doubting whether they can afford what you are offering. Or maybe they are not sure about your reputation or the quality of your offer. Or maybe they are simply an indecisive person who doesn’t really like making such decisions and would prefer their spouse to be there instead of them to make the choice. Whatever it is, you need to discuss their issues with them. Talk with them about their pain points and find out what they are concerned about. Then, find a solution to offer to them that they will find useful. If you really do have something of value to them, it will be much easier to find a common language with your client and complete your client meeting with a success.
- Adapt and React: Last but not least, always remember that you need to be able to adapt and react to what happens during your client meeting. You need to be flexible – only then will you be able to become a successful marketer, entrepreneur, business owner, or anyone else you aspire to be. It’s common for things not to go as you intended them to. Your bus might be late, so you will need to find a reasonable way to explain this. Your flash drive might be broken and you might not be able to recover your files. The wind might mess up your hair. In other words, anything can go wrong, but you need to keep your cool and find a way to adapt to the situation. Try to approach things from their positive side and always find the good aspects of a situation, because by being an optimist, you will be way more likely to succeed.
All in all, client meetings might be scary at first, but once you get enough experience, they will no longer seem so unmanageable to you. Just follow the tips in this article and you will become a much better client meeting organizer.
Guest Article by Frank Hamilton
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at review service Best Writers Online.