We all have had those amazing meetings, where one person in the office contacts us about their consulting needs. We take diligent notes and get the twinge of excitement at a new prospect. Then we walk in on our first meeting and there is a boardroom of people and everyone is scowling. Here are a few tips I have learned on how to get through the initial client meeting.
1 Learn the Lingo
If I am going to meet with a prospect, I will often look up the business online and read some of the services they perform or products they sell. Then I may look up the industry as a whole and see if there are any trends or hot topics. Knowing the terms the customers may or may not use ahead of time helps them feel comfortable that you understand how they should be functioning and the industry process. Of course if they use terms you do not know, make sure to ask. The honestly will be appreciated.
2 Tech-No Problem!
Be sure to ask what the technology set up is of the customer. If you are doing a remote meeting with GoToMeeting or Citrix, be sure they understand how to call in and how to log into the meeting. If you are going on site, ask if they have a projector or if you should bring one. It is hard to huddle around one screen so a remote meeting may be a better suggestion for customers who don’t have conference rooms set up. Having these things worked out ahead of time can cease your anxiety and the clients’ when we are trying to get the meeting started.
3 Don’t Over Prepare
As a consultant, I have learned that the initial phone call generally covers a different process then the initial meeting. When other minds are in the room, sometimes the workflow is different. If you come too prepared based on the process initially discussed you may feel more off balance when the prospect takes a hard right turn. A lot of times during the first meeting it will be the first time the prospective team is discussing how the business operates together in one room. Let them talk through it and record your notes so you can come back with a proposal and suggestions. Guided conversation helps the customer warm up to you and hopefully your solutions as well!
4 End on Time
If you have scheduled for an hour on site with the customer, keep it to that hour. This sets a precedent immediately that your time and their time are valuable and that you stay within boundaries.