How to Create a Great Client Meeting
You are the heart of your business. And clients are the lifeblood.
OK, the medical analogy may not be for everyone, but hopefully you get the picture.
Clients give you the means to create flow, and they receive what you have to give out into the world.
Most businesses have client interactions that involve meetings. My goal for this article is to set you up for the best possible in-person interactions with your clients that you can have!
So let's begin. What is the goal for every single client meeting?
OK, I'll just say it. It's connection.
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.
If you have connection with your client going for you, it's the vital link between strangers and friends, between mild interest and strong loyalty.
Connection is what you want to nurture, to cultivate, like a garden that keeps bearing fruit.
Connecting with your clients isn't a nice-to-have, if you want to retain those clients and save yourself a ton of work and time finding new clients every time you want to offer something. It's a necessity.
Plus - and this is huge - you get the personal boost of being with another human being in a way that feeds you both. It's energy that can help keep you going, when things are looking a little (or a lot) dubious.
If you are clear that clients are important to your business beyond simply the flow of money that comes your way, you are way more likely to offer really stellar service. You'll really care about them and their concerns. People do pick up on that. And when they do, you'll have a steadfast relationship on your hands.
So in the realm of face-to-face meetings, how do you make that experience so awesome for your client, that it can't help but deepen your connection? Here are the key ways:
1. 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 buffer 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.
2. Get focused
. Find out the purpose of the meeting, if your client has called it, and define the purpose if you do. Knowing what you want to cover is respectful to you both: you can get right to it, and focus on what's most important.
3. Be prepared
. Whether this is the first meeting with this client, or the 50th, arrive prepared to discuss the purpose of the meeting. Do the research. Prepare the materials you need. Decide what you want to wear, so you feel good about yourself going in.
4. 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.
5. Start with the personal
. At the meeting, make a personal connection first. Take a few moments to ask about them, and even their family if you know something about them. I like to take note of specific interests that a client has, or a recent event in their lives. Next time we meet, I'll ask about it. To keep track of this, I'll make a note in an email to myself, and include the client's name and the information. Then I can search for their name and pull it up no matter where I am. I've also used client relationship management (CRM) software to keep track of this kind of thing in the notes, as well as their contact information. If you use a PC, ACT is a great platform for this.
6. Read your client's state of mind
. It's helpful to know what's on your client's mind. It will help you put whatever happens in your meeting into perspective. For example, a client may be pressed for time because an issue just popped up, and you may be able to tell that immediately from non-verbal cues, if they don't tell you directly. If you're not sure, ask! Finding out the client's state of mind will help you know how to approach them, especially if the topic is challenging.
7. 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. I do mean that it's 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! It also means knowing when to leave. When the client signals the end of a meeting, gracefully pack up and be on your way.
8. Do the work required to follow up, and do it promptly
. This is also part of a credo that has created great success for me over the years. Here it is: Do what you say you're going to do. Seems obvious, right? Surprisingly, few people do it. When you do, you're building trust with your client and it validates the trust they already have in you.
Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Even if your client is a big business CEO, she still needs some love, just like everyone else. So treating her, and every client, with respect and real consideration will work with this crowd as well as anyone else.
Really, this boils down to love. Do you love your clients? If you do, the benefits for you and your business will roll in. Loyal clients, great connections. Who doesn't want that?
When you have an opportunity to show some love to your client, take it. Accept their calls. Listen to their concerns. Offer the gift of yourself, in time and effort, something that no one, no one, at companies who have the same offerings can provide.
They picked you, right? Help them know they made the right choice.
Build your connection with your clients, and you'll build not only the loyalty that allows you to keep serving them. You'll have that human connection that's essential to us all.Ursula Jorch, MSc, MEd, mentors entrepreneurs starting their businesses and seasoned entrepreneurs in transition to create the business of their dreams. Her coaching programs provide knowledge, support, clarity, inspiration, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to empower you to reach your goals. Start with a free guide and other valuable info at www.WorkAlchemy.com