For a solo entrepreneur, there’s nothing more exciting than getting a first face-to-face with a potential client. It’s a sign that your social media and website promotion has paid off and someone is actually willing to spend their time talking to you about your services.
But before you get ahead of yourself, this doesn’t mean the deal is sealed — far from it. That’s where client meeting preparation comes in.
1. It’s all in the research
Well ahead of time, you need to begin your client meeting preparation with some in-depth research. As a potential customer, they probably know a lot about you already, so you’ve got to match their knowledge to come across as respectable.
Furthermore, you’re unlikely to be the only option on their radar, so making them feel valued is ideal for creating a good impression.
Points to cover include:
- Learning about their company and their place in the market
- Matching their needs to what you can offer
- Noting down examples of similar projects you’ve done in the past
- A list of relevant questions you couldn’t find the answer to
The best places to get your information are from their website and social media channels like LinkedIn, but also on Google. However, if possible, have a quick call to go over their project, budget, and overall aims. It’s not just the professional side you need to work out.
If you support the same sports team or have kids around the same age, they are great talking points to spark a personal connection.
2. Work on your personal approach
When you’re at the stage of a face-to-face meeting, you know you’re dealing with someone who is interested. They’ve heard about you, weighed up their options, and are now spending their time to come and see you.
Therefore, your personal approach is a make-or-break part of your client meeting preparation.Some people ooze a natural, effortless charm, but the majority of us aren’t that lucky. However, you can work on yourself and fake it until you make it. Ask coworkers to observe you in rehearsals, or if you’re a solo entrepreneur, film yourself meeting a friend and analyze the recording.
Exactly how to start a meeting with clients varies on your personal approach, but you should always try to achieve:
- A relaxed smile at the beginning
- A cool, confident pitch
- Good posture and hand movements
- Active listening
3. Prepare your notes and don’t be late!
Preparation is something that can seem simple, but if you neglect the basics, you can cause yourself a lot of embarrassment and shake your confidence in meetings.
Make sure to have a cheat sheet with the following information on it:
- Names and roles of attendees
- Agenda of points to discuss
- Pain points for their business
- How you can solve their issues
Similarly, it’s important to be punctual for your meeting. This doesn’t mean arriving at the building at the arranged time, it means being ready and waiting at the right desk around 10 minutes before your meeting. Therefore, your client meeting preparation needs to include your route to the meeting, with a generous amount of leeway in case of traffic.
However, a huge amount of meetings are now online, so use that extra 10 minutes to test your video call software, check your camera and microphone and make sure your clients have the right link. As a final note on preparation, there is nothing worse than not having the right clothes, so choose what you’re going to wear and get it prepared days in advance, just in case. It will save you a lot of stress when the day comes, meaning you can turn up looking cool and confident.
4. Give your client their time to speak
It’s all-too easy to launch into your rehearsed sales speech from the get go, which is why client meeting preparation is so important. Ultimately, your customers are only interested in what you have to offer if it can help them. Therefore, you need to actively listen to what they have to say before you begin your pitch.
As you’re listening, show that you’re paying them your full attention. This includes occasional nods of the head, gestures to continue, and reiteration of points for support. You can take notes too, as well as write down any questions to address later.
But once you’re done writing, you need to get straight back to the focused attention. You should also know what you want to hear. For example, if you don’t get a clear idea of why your customer is sitting in front of you, ask them to clarify it in the question session that we’ll deal with later.
5. Outline how your skills and experience can help them
Now comes the time that you have to talk about why you are the solution to your client’s problems. You want this exchange to seem relaxed and effortless — almost like you’ve already got the job. It should be casually crafted to not sound like you’re reading your resume, while including all the highlights that will seal the deal.
Don’t restrict your planning to your hard skills. You’re focusing on techniques for how to impress a client in first meetings, so integrate examples of how you’ve helped clients in the past. And there’s certainly no harm in a slide that just happens to include a great testimonial or some killer stats.
However, the most important thing to remember is that nobody is asking for your life story. Focus your sales pitch on a few key points you need your client to hear and work on cutting out all the excess that just serves as a distraction.
6. Have a Q&A back and forth
Once you’ve both said your piece, you’re well into the meeting and it’s time for a more balanced interaction. A key part of your client meeting preparation is to get answers to your burning questions. Remember to include those that have come up as you’ve been listening too.
Common questions from your side could include:
- What does success look like for your project?
- Has your client ever worked with a company like yours before?
- If they have, how would they do things differently this time?
- What kind of communication are they expecting, and how often?
But it's not all about your questions. Your preparation should cover the questions you're expecting to hear, and you need to have focused answers to clear up any doubt.
Whatever your service, you should expect questions similar to these:
- How do you calculate costs and expect payment?
- What success stories do you already have?
- To what extent can your in-house team deal with the project?
Over time, you’ll learn what to expect from your clients, so you can incorporate common (and not-so-common) questions into your sales pitch itself. Apart from having a more streamlined meeting, you’ll show how much attention you’ve paid to the client in preparing for their questions in advance.
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7. Lay out a Client Contact Schedule
How many times have you kicked yourself because you haven’t outlined the next steps in your meeting? A simple addition to your client meeting preparation is how you arrange a future contact schedule. Have your calendar open in a tab, ready to go as you’re wrapping up your meeting. This way, you won’t just make a verbal agreement, or even take a note that you could forget about later.
When preparing, you can fill in a title and your client’s details, so all you have to do is pick a time and a place. But why are future meetings so important? A lot can be said in your client meetings, but that doesn’t automatically make them a confirmed customer.
By getting a commitment for future contact, you can keep the fire burning, remind them of your services, and earn loyalty. Resist the urge to contact them too frequently. Stick to your schedule and you can stay relevant to them without coming across as pushy.
8. Offer a little something for free
Let’s face it, we all love freebies, and showing your appreciation to your potential customer is going to go a long way.
What you offer is totally up to you. Maybe something that is relevant to your brand, but more importantly, something that will be of value to your customer. A piece of advice on how they can work on their business is great, but if you can package it into an e-book or a video, even better.
As well as being a pleasant surprise for your customers, you can build trust and show your authority in your field. Therefore, your clients are more likely to return for repeat business or even spread the word about their good experience.
9. Wrapping things up
Hopefully, with enough client meeting preparation done in advance, you'll reach the end of your meeting in good time, having covered everything you planned to.
Take a moment to go over what you've discussed and ask if there are any outstanding points from your client’s side. Although it might be tempting, the end of a meeting is not the time to put on high-pressure tactics to try and secure a deal.
Keep the same cool head you’ve shown throughout the meeting, and even remind them you understand the decision is up to them. This way, you show yourself to be a sympathetic, understanding collaborator which could play to your benefit. Be careful not to get too excited at this point.
Stay polite, clear up after yourself, make sure you haven’t forgotten anything, and keep the small talk going on your way out. A firm handshake and an appreciation of their time are more than welcome, and there’s no harm in leaving a business card too.
10. Save all your records in your CRM
You want to appear cool, friendly, and easy-going on the outside, but your client meeting preparation has to be meticulous and methodical under the surface. A powerful customer relationship management tool is where you store all your records, track every interaction, and plan for future meetings.
If you’ve been taking notes by hand, the first thing you need to do is to type them up into a document and attach them to your client’s profile within your CRM. You should also have up-to-date records of their contact channels and social media profiles, as well as their preferences for communication and the services you offer.
CRMs such as Bitrix24 are automatically synced with your calendars, sales workflows, marketing tools, and so much more. Therefore, you can save yourself time on the admin side and focus more on the personal touch. For example, when setting up your client contact schedule, you’ll be able to find all the details both in your calendar as well as your CRM.
11. Analyze and evaluate your performance
Despite the relief (and hopefully joy) of ending a meeting, your job is not done yet. While everything is fresh in your mind, take 10 minutes to reflect on how it went.
Things you can take note of include:
- Difficult questions
Stumbling blocks in your presentation
Overrunning your meeting time
Suitability of the venue
Topics of conversation to avoid
If you really want to step up your analysis, consider creating separate feedback forms for successful and unsuccessful meetings. Remember to tell your potential customers that you’ll be sending them a form, and use it as a practical way of maintaining contact.
This is the moment when your client meeting preparation starts for future events. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re doomed to repeat them, so start writing up a list of dos and don’ts that you can refer to before future meetings.
So now you’ve got yourself familiar with our tips, congratulations! You’re almost ready for your first meeting. But before you set off at 100 miles per hour, think about how you’re going to combine all your preparation, client details, and communication pathways.
Bitrix24 does a lot of the hard work for you, with an all-in-one platform that covers each of your business needs. Over 10,000,000 companies have already put their trust in Bitrix24 for their client meeting preparation and much more, so register today and take control of your customer management.
How to start a client meeting?
Start a client meeting with the following steps:
- A quick welcome
- Thank them for their time
- Briefly explain how you can help them
- Confirm the time length of the meeting
- Hand out any relevant materials
How to impress a client in the first meeting?
- Being fully prepared and on time
- Offering them something for free
- Showing you have done your research
- Outlining examples and statistics of your past successes
- Actively listening to their pain points