“It takes months to find a client, but it only takes seconds to lose one.” – Vince Lombardi.
First meeting with the client can be the game-changer for your business. It provides two scenarios, i.e.,
- It can help you seal the deal and take your organization to the next level, or
- It can affect the already made progress.
Obviously, you’d wish for the first scenario to turn into a reality. However, it isn’t as easy as you may have assumed.
The first meeting is not just about meeting each other and communicating effectively. It also includes hidden agendas. For instance, the client will observe the workplace, the way employees interact, and the confidence you have in your organization. Therefore, it is essential that you are well prepared for the meeting and know how to communicate.
Fortunately, the following tips can help you get on the right track.
The first and foremost thing that you need to do is to prepare for the meeting. It seems obvious, isn’t it? But, it is a crucial step.
If the meeting venue is your office, you need to ensure that it is clean and organized. To make the office look more appealing, you can also add some small paintings and plants.
In case the venue is outside the office, be sure about the address and reach on time. It will indicate that you are dedicated and honest about your work.
Besides, make sure that you have prepared all the information that needs to be discussed. Check whether the laptop is working properly or not. Also, keep a supply of business stationary with you. It generally includes company letterhead, compliment slip, and presentation folders. In addition to this, you should also note down or learn the name of your clients.
Put efforts in the first impression.
Whoever said “the first impression is the last impression” was probably right, especially in the corporate world. How you have groomed yourself, what clothes you are wearing and how you behave with others; everything counts. Therefore, you need to look presentable and observe your actions.
Even if you work in a creative industry, you should wear nice and decent clothes at the first meeting. Moreover, you should pay attention to your posture; it should reflect confidence and modesty.
Furthermore, you need to ensure that your every action reflects a positive attitude. It should look like that you are glad for the opportunity given to you.
Start with small talk.
“Breaking the ice” is a very crucial step for the first meeting. Do not start the conversation with the main topic as soon as you meet. Be relaxed and let everyone else settle. After that, start with small talk. It is the best way to break the ice and improve the overall atmosphere.
You can try some of the following conversation starters:
- Ask general questions such as how are you? Did you have any trouble finding the location?
- Talk about the weather.
- Compliment them. (But keep it professional)
- Offer something such as tea or coffee (if the meeting venue is your office, it is a must.)
Nonetheless, just make sure that your conversation starter is not looking like a complaint. Remember, it is to lighten the mood, don’t divert your attention from the main objective.
Listen! Listen! Listen!
Once the small talk is done, every client who’ll meet you would wish to know- “how your business will benefit them.” But before you start talking, it is better to ask your client about their business concerns and expectations. It will give you an idea about what your client wants and how you can help with it.
The key here is to be an active listener. Let them do all the talking and listen very carefully. To show them that you are listening, you can throw in a few words and gestures. It will also help develop confidence in the clients that you are serious about your work and really want the meeting to be successful.
Discuss the details
After the client is done talking, you need to start discussing the details of the meeting. Ask them questions, understand their requirements, tell them how you can help.
For better understanding, let’s suppose you are an advertisement agency and meeting a real estate developer. The developers would like to make more sales and increase social media engagement. In this scenario, you can ask them about their target market, and the USP of their projects. Understanding all these will help you present your company in front of them.
Also, if you want, you can note down the pointer on the notepad or compliment slip. You can refer back to these notes during the meeting or in future. Moreover, you can use these notes to describe your skills.
Present your best
Remember that communication is a two-way street. If you don’t speak your mind, the whole meeting will be futile. Therefore, after discussing the client’s needs, you need to tell- how you are best for them. However, keep in mind that “Actions speak louder than words.” That means, instead of talking about what you can do, show them what you have already done or plan to do.
For instance, let’s continue the above scenario. You can show the real estate developers the advertisements you have already made (whether print or video). Or you can share your knowledge with them on how they can launch ad campaigns to achieve their target. Share some unique ideas that occurred in your mind while listening to them. It will help in building trust.
All the preparations that you did are for this moment only. Therefore, you need to calm yourself and present your work. It should reflect your knowledge and experience. Even if it is your first meeting, it shouldn’t look like one.
Remember the phrase “fake it till you make it.” Be on your best behaviour and show your best ideas and work. Be confident about yourself, and the rest will fall into places automatically.
Wrapping it up!
Effective communication is the key to success at the first client meeting. With the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to impress your client and seal the deal. So, what are you waiting for? Start preparing now!