How to effectively structure and run a client meeting
Business owners, managers, salespeople, and team members have a part in creating the ideal conditions for a client meeting. There is no successful meeting without proper planning, preparation, and execution. When you showcase your business proposition or come together to plan future moves, you should be all set up. This way, you will be able to retain clients and attract new ones. Having a good reputation regarding how you meet up with clients and the hard work you put behind every meeting can make you a prominent figure in the business market.
This article will explore all the preparatory stages that can lead to effective get-togethers with a client. So, find out how to build your working routine towards a client meeting to avoid blind spots, sloppy work, and lack of knowledge.
Identify the nature of the client meeting
As you can imagine, there is more than one type of client meetings. People in business come together for different reasons that need different preparation and have different outcomes. Some meetings concern the sales department. Others involve higher management, and some others may offer deep information around a project’s progress.
Introductory client meeting
This meeting type is pretty self-explanatory. It is quite important since first impressions matter, for good or bad. So, a new client may be dazzled or disappointed by your portfolio, experience, and proposition. The same rule applies to existing clients. Regardless of past collaborations, your present approach towards each new project can be a dealbreaker or a formula for success.
Business consulting session
This part is similar to the many online articles on “50 questions to ask in order to know someone better”. In this case, that “someone” is another business that needs professional help. Learning more about its philosophy, processes, goals, and problems is possible through keeping a fruitful dialogue and asking critical questions. Consultants or salespeople in your team should focus on getting a deep understanding of a client’s profile. This way, you will be able to propose more fitting solutions based on the knowledge gathered during the consulting session.
Presenting a business proposal is an elaborate process fueled by extensive research on the client’s needs and project goals. Of course, it is a very crucial meeting since it can seal the deal or lead the client to go in another direction. However, the better the preparation, the more effective the arguments during the meeting, and the easier it will be to get the job, leaving the competition behind.
Client update meeting
Projects, especially long-term ones, are in great need of reporting meetings. During these meetups, different stakeholders and clients should discuss how the project progresses and potential problems or concerns. By regularly hosting this kind of meeting, you make sure that your work is aligned with the client’s project scope and improves client retention. All in all, client update meetings function as checkpoints for the trouble-free development of a project.
Research like your life depends on it…
If the entrepreneur you are meeting with is a new entry in your client base, you should go on an in-depth research expedition. You need to know your prospective client’s industry, background, and network circles. This way, you will be able to connect better with them, understand their needs, and know how to treat them. People in general and businesspeople, in particular, are not all the same.
In the case that the client is regular, then the research has already been done in its bigger part. However, there will always be new things to investigate and learn in order to work better on a future project to satisfy your client’s business needs.
Turn your findings into insights
The time you have spent researching should have provided you with valuable information. So, be prepared to showcase it properly. First of all, make sure that you have all the necessary documents like industry reports, visual presentations, and mock-ups at your fingertips. Then, the gathering will be smoother than you think since your research will fuel the presentation and discussion. You should also ask and answer the right questions, present your arguments, ideas, and plans while inspiring trust and providing assurance.
Create the perfect conditions for a client meeting
Finding the right place that matches the purpose of a meeting is essential. For example, it’s better to hold an introductory meeting at the client’s office or company headquarters. This way, you get the chance to better understand the client’s company and put the client in a safer and comfortable position. In turn, a proposal meeting can be arranged in your office or headquarters, or conference room in a co-working space, depending on the nature of your business.
However, video conferencing has become the new standard in these difficult times since COVID-19 has changed business meeting norms for corporations, startups, and freelancers worldwide. So, regardless of the place, you can still create favorable conditions to discuss a project. Your ultimate goal should not be to impress but offer a complete solution to cover the client’s problem. Moreover, you need to think whose presence is essential for an online client meeting and invite them as well. Otherwise, you should be very picky when it comes to assembling the right people since online meetings can be plagued by distractions and people who just look and do not participate at all. According to statistics presented in bettermeetings, the number one reason a meeting may be problematic is the time wasted on off-topic discussions. So, make sure that your team is always punctual and to the point at every client meeting.
Overall, you should always create the perfect meeting conditions, either online or at a physical location. A quiet environment without distractions, a well-structured meeting agenda, the proper visuals, and a positive attitude will most probably give you the job.
Start a client meeting with an agenda
It’s vital that you build up an agenda around your client meeting. Remember that structured communication and collaboration are key factors that affect the outcome of a client meeting. In other words, you need to know exactly which topics you wish to address, discuss, and resolve. Then, you should communicate the agenda to the client so that they know how the meeting will be structured. This move also indicates professionalism and devotion to α business collaboration. On top of everything, you will not be wasting both of your time on project discussions without a specific purpose.
The importance of following-up
Let’s say that you have completed a client meeting in the best possible way. However, the end of a meeting is just the beginning of a project phase. Thus, after a proper wrap-up regarding responsibilities, a follow-up plan should be arranged. All the tasks discussed and decisions made have to be put into action, so follow-ups will ensure everyone has done their part.
In a nutshell…
Mapping and managing a client meeting is a demanding process. It requires in-depth knowledge of the client and the project itself. Simultaneously, team managers should clearly delineate and even time track meetings for better time management. All parties should be involved and informed for better communication and collaboration to reach business success.