The first impression is often the most important, especially when meeting a prospective client. How you behave or what you say may have a particularly great impact on sealing the deal or forming a successful business relationship. So it’s imperative to show ourselves in the best light from the very beginning. We take notes and show clients our propositions. However, as it often turns out later — we didn’t understand their vision properly.
How to avoid such situations and make sure we and our Clients don’t lose nerves and time?
Good to know
To begin with, look for information about your clients. Find out what their company actually does,
so you know what can you offer in advance. If you respond to their core needs and pain points, you won’t really have to additionally sell your products or services, because they’ll be eager to try whatever it is that you offer. Use social profiles like LinkedIn or the company’s website to make a pre-meeting research, and determine key industry facts to discuss.
Then, it is also a good idea to spend some time researching your Client’s main competitors. This will help you understand the company better and provide you with ideas on how you may help them stand out. This will also give you a good perspective of what makes their products and services unique. With this kind of knowledge, you’ll definitely gain some trust and appreciation.
To the very heart
Often, clients have opinions about what they want, but the problem is they are not clear about why they want it. Your job is not only to listen to what the client has to say but also get an insight into why they’re saying it — sometimes even better than they do.
Instead of thoughtlessly following clients orders or trying to prove that their idea or solution is wrong — show them interest, and be curious trying to figure out the reasons behind it.
Trying to figure out the reasons behind the Client’s idea, here are a few questions you can ask:
- What problem are they trying to solve?
- What goals are they trying to accomplish?
- What do they like about doing it that way?
- Where else have they seen such solution?
- What experience are they trying to create for their user?
Don’t make them feel like they are being questioned. Instead, try to guide the conversation towards the topics related to your queries. Let your client do most of the talking. Remember about taking notes. Even if you’re able to memorize all the important details, by taking notes you’ll show the client that you pay attention and nothing will escape your notice.
The little things
According to Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, aka “The Bikeshed Effect” as a metaphor he used to illustrate this phenomenon — people would rather talk about the little, often insignificant issues than focus on the more important. At the same time, that’s what should be avoided when it comes to meeting clients for the first time. Talking about specifics before agreeing on the key points of the project is not the best beginning of a successful business relation.
It might be helpful to create an agenda for your conversation so that you can always remember what is the reason behind the gathering, or anticipate what to say and how to continue the relationship after the first business meeting. You don’t have to strictly follow the script. If you’ll get stuck the agenda will always come to the rescue.
Remember that business meeting is not a scientific conference. The participants are usually specialists in various fields and have different backgrounds. This means that they don’t necessarily have to share your knowledge or speak your professional language.
To be sure that you will be understood — avoid forcing too much information and details. Try delivering your content with the same merits but using language that is less technical and dedicated to your audience.
End each business meeting with stating what you’ve decided on that day. This serves two purposes. First of all, It ensures you actually make decisions — a lot of meetings consist of conversations where you discuss different options but don’t actually agree on anything. Secondly, it will help you make sure everyone is on the same page and save you all a lot of time and hassle.
Summarize, paraphrase and make sure that you understand everything well. If you are unsure of what is the answer to the customer’s question — don’t give final replies. Instead, suggest that you’ll check it and come back with details. This is definitely better than giving answers that may later turn out to be untrue. The client will definitely appreciate it and consider you as a reliable partner.
Last but not least — after the business meeting send a follow-up e-mail with all the details. This way, both sides will have a written summary of the project. You will be also able to get back to the key points at any moment.
A business meeting is just one of many, many tools that can be used to cooperate with the Clients effectively. And just like with every other tool — mastering it may take some time. Build a relationship with your Clients instead of focusing on immediate reactions and you’ll gain much more than you think.
This article was originally published in Polish at http://mamstartup.pl/sprzedaz/10818/jak-przeprowadzic-spotkanie-biznesowe-i-dowiedziec-sie-czego-klient-chce