The Do's and Don'ts of Meeting with Clients
You've received an inquiry and the potential client wants to meet with you. It's the next step on gaining a client, a sale, and perhaps, if you do it right, a new friend. These meetings can't be taken lightly or flippantly.
DON'T assume: The number one mistake to make during a client meeting is assuming that the client is going to book with you. It doesn't matter if they have made you all the guarantees. Until you have a signed contract, every time you're out with a client, you should always be selling yourself without being salesy. How does this translate? In everything you say and do, aim to instill relational trust and educate them on why they should buy your product or service. Dress appropriately, always pay for their drink, dinner, etc - and always be informative and friendly.
DO let your personality come out: The first few minutes of your meeting is usually filled with small talk. Ask the client about the details they have shared with you in their inquiry. Ask them about who their pulling for in the Superbowl. Here's where you show a little of your personality and see if you click with your potential client.
DO choose a comfortable, neutral location- we typically suggest coffee shops as they are relaxed, casual, and your tab can only get so high (great for new business owners with small expense accounts). Always ask a client's location and try to meet them in the middle.
DON'T start off with numbers. Leave the details til the end - this should be a conversation that makes your potential client feel engaged and appreciated. They are not only trying to confirm your qualifications but also want to make sure they feel comfortable working with you. Thus always wait til the end of the meeting to go over contract specifics.
DON'T do all the talking. Part of the reason for meeting with clients is to learn what they want past the straight forward package or product. Ask them to explain their vision or plan. Ask them what about your service or product is their favorite. For example, if you're a florist ask them what is the general theme they desire to communicate through their arrangements. If you're a water color painter, ask them if they want a certain tone captured in the art piece. Get a feel for their vision.
DON'T push a contract signing. Never ask if they are ready to sign but instead give them a window such as "No need to sign today but I'll touch base with you in a week to see how you're feeling" etc
DO define the next steps. You have spent the last hour getting to know their vision, and informing them on what you have to offer. Now lay out to them the next steps. Be careful not to pressure them here. For example, you can offer to send them samples, or a contract to read over and explain that you will follow up in a week at which point they can inform you on if they want to proceed, take more time to consider or move on. This DTR conversation with your client will keep you from unnecessary anxiety and give the client some direction of what to do next.
DO end well. Shake their hand, and thank them for their time. Always.
-Jo and Jess