You are the heart of your business and your clients are the lifeblood. Most businesses have client interactions that involve meetings. The difference between a good client experience and a great one are often down to “touch points” with the firm, such as client meetings. Your goal for every client meeting should be to create and nurture a connection with the client. Whether it’s to deliver what you promised (your offering), to talk about an upcoming project or product, or to show a great big thank you by taking them to lunch, connection is always the platform for any meeting with a client.
Set up the meeting in plenty of time. Give your client, and yourself, lots of time to prepare for the meeting, if you can and if circumstances allow. This practice also allows you to create enough time around the meeting so that you’re leaving yourself lots of time to get there, and time afterwards so you don’t feel pressure to rush off. Allow plenty of time to get there. Don’t make your clients wait for you. Resist the temptation to do ‘one more thing’ before you leave the office. Respect them enough to be there when you say you will.
Whether this is the first meeting with a client or not, arrive prepared. Do the necessary research and prepare the materials you need. Decide what you need to bring in terms of reports or documents. Visit the client’s website and have a look at any publications such as their strategy or vision, so that you understand their business, their aspirations and where they are going.
Start with the personal. At the meeting, make a personal connection before you get down to discussing business. Take a few moments to ask about them, and even their family if you know something about them. If you know your client is into say, sport, then discuss a recent result or an upcoming game. The aim is to make a human connection with your client. You want to make them like you as people prefer to do business with people that they like.
Create an agenda for the meeting and send it to the client a couple of days in advance. However, if during the meeting, you deviate from the agenda in a positive way then just go with the flow. Let the flow of the meeting be determined by the client as much as by you. This doesn’t mean that you have to be held hostage when you have other commitments. Most people wouldn’t want that anyway. However it is valuable to give the client some latitude in your conversation. You’ll often learn useful information, and even give them a chance to offer you another opportunity to do the work you love to do for them.
Do the work required to follow up, and do it promptly. Do what you say you’re going to do. When you follow up you are building trust with your client and it validates the trust they already have in you and your business.