When you run a good meeting, you show prospective clients that you can be trusted. The project will be in good hands because you are a pro. In your meeting you will show that you are prepared: you understand the clients’ needs and the needs of the clients’ customers. You demonstrate your value-added and ability to meet or exceed expectations. You know how to land the plane and they will look like a genius for hiring you.
Here is the continuation of the meeting primer developed by Geoffrey James, author of “How to Say it: Business to Business Selling” (2011). James suggests that you follow these rules to make sure that you make a good impression in your next meeting and I totally agree. I’ve edited and condensed his list.
8. Don’t start the meeting with a SALES PITCH. If you are meeting with a prospective client who would like to get to know you better, respect that wish and be grateful for the chance to build a business relationship. Do not be crass and push a selfish agenda. Rather, encourage the prospect to talk about him/herself and the business and what’s gone on in the past, what the preferred future will look like and the role you can play in bringing the business to that point.
9. RESEARCH the client’s organization, so that you’ll have a good understanding of what business priorities and concerns are likely to be before you walk into the meeting. Have ideas of how your services can benefit the organization. Visit the company website and read the mission statement, familiarize yourself with the organization’s primary products and services and get to know its clients. In other words, do your homework.
10. Remember the NAMES of everyone at the meeting. After the introductions, make a note of the names of all participants. Offer your business card to all and try your best to likewise get a card from everyone present, so that you can confirm titles and have contact info.
11. Take NOTES, so that you’ll have a record of what everyone has agreed to, especially you. Remember to bring a nice note pad or your notebook computer. It can be very useful to send a confirmation email to everyone, as a way to confirm any agreements and time tables.
12. Keep the meeting on FOCUS, so that you don’t lose control of the agenda and fail to get your questions answered. It will be up to you to bring the meeting back to the main topic if the client tends to meander into sidebars. Make sure the meeting is productive and not a waste of time.
13. End the meeting on TIME. Respect the client’s schedule and do what you can to follow the agenda. The only exception would be if the client is anxious to push forward ASAP and creates space in his/her calendar to spend more time discussing the project.
14. FOLLOW UP on whatever you agree to do, within the expected time frame.
15. Write a THANK YOU LETTER. If you were invited to meet with a prospective client or reconnect with a previous one, demonstrate your appreciation in writing. Get some nice stationery (time to get your own personalized business stationery printed up fast if you haven’t done so already) and write a three or four sentence letter. Drop it in the mail maximum 48- 72 hours after the meeting.
Thanks for reading,