How to Prepare for a Meeting with a Client [7 Tips]
Getting a client meeting isn’t the easiest thing to do. When you do get a meeting confirmation, a surge of excitement occurs. The words, “I would like to know more about your product or services,” are magic. Some assume this is the completion of a long trek. But the reality is that the journey is just starting. While there are important things that you must do before, during, and after a meeting to ensure it is success, meeting preparation is a requisite. Without the right level preparation, the success of a meeting is assuredly in doubt.
Meeting Preparation Checklist
It is more than simply identifying the different questions they might ask and what other solutions they might be considering. Rather, whether you’re a freelancer, agency, or small business, you must prepare for the meeting. Following is a checklist that will help ensure your meeting is successful.
Know the Company You’re Meeting With
Researching the company and its key business drivers helps you focus on the issues that matter to those with whom you are meeting, while enabling you to avoid topics that are irrelevant or even potential detractors. Aligning your presentation to the client’s business drivers and objectives are a requisite for a successful meeting outcome.
Here, some of the questions you should ask before the meeting include:
• Have we worked with other organizations in the same industry sector?
• Do we have other clients with similar challenges and objectives?
• What approach have we taken that resonated with those clients?
In addition to the above, not every client is the same—and they approach each meeting with different goals and objectives. In a prior blog post, I broke client profiles into four types:
• Searchers are those seeking information but do not have a specific intent to purchase. Identifying searchers early in the process will help you avoid wasting valuable time and energy.
• Researchers are charged to evaluate different solutions and report back to management which ones meet business and technical requirements. They have a very definitive requirement and you need to determine as early as possible if there is a potential fit.
• Budgeters are driven by cost and view solutions as a commodity. Gaining an understanding of their budget enables you to determine if it is worth proceeding.
• Problem solvers want a solution that adds value and solutions that uniquely solve a business problem. For obvious reasons, assuming you have a unique value proposition, these are the best clients.
Know Who You’re Meeting With
Getting a full list of those attending the meeting and understanding their roles and responsibilities is a critical starting point. This includes their history with the company and their prior career roles. LinkedIn is a great tool, but others may be worth considering in instances where you need a deeper dive. These tidbits of information often foster rapport and personal connections that are just as important as business-related issues. Pinpointing decision-makers versus those who will simply influence decisions helps you prepare for the questions they may ask as well as hone the questions you likely need to pose. New technology tools that enable you to evaluate the personality/psychological profile of your meeting attendees can provide valuable insights.
Here, some of the questions you should ask before the meeting include:
• Who is a decision-maker versus influencer?
• What are the key responsibilities of each meeting attendee?
• How are each member of the meeting measured?
Understand the Problem the Client Wants to Solve
Research on the client and the different meeting participants helps you get a good lay of the land. However, you likely need more information than just the above. Understanding the problem the client is trying to solve is crucial. The best way to gather information is to schedule a brief call with the primary client contact. Go to this call with specific questions in mind. Keeping this call short and keeping the focus on a few questions is important. The questions need to focus on issues such as the problem the client is trying to solve, who is the decision-maker and key stakeholders, and where they are at in the evaluation process.
Pinpoint Client Competitors
In addition to understanding what they client does (products and services), you need to get a sense of their competitive landscape. Who are their main competitors—and their strengths and weaknesses? Review sites like G2, Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, and others include competitive comparisons that enable you to get up to speed quickly and easily. A simple Google search can provide competitive information if none exist.
Prepare a List of Questions
Once you’ve gathered information on the client with which you’re meeting, now you need to generate a list of questions for the meeting. While you way to ensure the meeting is friendly and somewhat informal, you also need to ensure it adheres to some structure. Preparation of these questions enables you to guide the conversation. The questions you prepare should reflect the client’s challenges and objectives. You should also include a question that ferrets out why they agreed to or requested a meeting with you in the first place, what budget is available, what their timeline looks like, and more.
Put Together a Winning Presentation
First impressions are really important, and having a winning presentation plays an important role. If you’re simply showing a demo of your product, then it all goes back to your product. Regardless, you need to understand what features are pertinent to the client, and which ones aren’t. In the case of a slide deck, you need one that is professionally compelling—one that succinctly conveys your value proposition. Too long of a deck, and the client will get lost in the weeds.
Reserve a Meeting Room
Meeting the client at their facility is typically a bad idea. It requires zero effort on your part, but their office comes with a lot of different challenges and distractions—confirming a meeting room that is the right size and one with the presentation tools you need, ringing phones, other client employee who intrude on your meeting, and more.
Hotel conference rooms are expensive and simply don’t convey the brand experience you likely want. They also don’t come with the presentation and collaboration tools you need for a meeting. Similarly, your local coffee shop is a bad idea. They typically are noisy, and you lack privacy—from patrons at adjacent tables listening to your conversation to unsecure internet connections. Additionally, you don’t have the ability to share your screen and collaborate on presentations, which is a requisite for a successful business meeting. Finally, like hotel conference rooms, coffee shops don’t come with presentation and collaboration tools used to facilitate successful meetings.
Rented meeting rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms are a great alternative for client meetings. You can view and evaluate them beforehand and select one that is the right size and moreover comes with the presentation and collaboration tools, administrative services, and catering you need for a successful meeting. They are in business locations that garner respect, and they give you the privacy needed for a great meeting.
Get Your Meeting Off to a Great Start
The amount of preparation that you do for a meeting obviously will vary based on the client with which you’re meeting and the nature of your services and products. The bigger the client opportunity, the more time you need to spend prepping for the meeting. Following the above checklist of seven items will help ensure that your client meeting is successful—even before it starts