6 Things to think about before your next client meeting

Posted by Keith Jolie on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 Under: Strategies
They've asked us to meet with them!!!
Ok Bucky...before you get all excited, let's talk about your upcoming meeting.  I know that you've been trying to get these guys on the phone for your entire career (or so it seems).  You've been put off, transferred to different departments and finally after promising you'd be brief and presenting a clear statement of the value you present to your clients - you had a great phone conversation with your prospect and they've now asked you to meet with them in person to discuss their needs.

There are 6 things I want you to keep in mind before you go to the meeting (and while you're there)

1.  What is the objective for the meeting?
Before you arrive, make sure you know why you're meeting.  Seems simple, but sometimes people get so excited that they got THE MEETING that they forget to find out why.  So if you haven't already..ask them what their objectives are for the meeting.  Something along the lines of "I want this to be a good use of your time, and I'll be able to discuss our services in detail, but is there something specific I should be sure to address when we meet?" 

Never go to a meeting if you don't know why the client is meeting you - it can be a big waste of time.

2.  Once you arrive - Listen very carefully.

You know what's best for your clients...right? Wrong.  not yet.  You need to listen carefully to the client and really hear what challenge they are trying to address, where they've failed in the past, where they've succeeded, and where they need to go.  Make sure you ask careful questions related to what they've told you when you need more information to understand their situation.  State back what you hear from your client as you go along and gain agreement that you've got it right.

3.  Avoid the temptation to propose a solution

In fact, don't even think about it. Throughout the conversation, you may think that you've got just the thing to fix your clients problem.  Keep it to yourself - and also...stop doing that.  The moment you start thinking about what you can do for them, that's the moment you stop hearing what they are saying.  Just listen, and don't start addressing they're need until you're sure you have it all.

4.  Discuss options and get feedback

Once you've heard the client, and when there are some clear solutions that you may be able to propose, it is usually helpful to discuss a few options that may be part of your overall solution for the client.  Presenting them as "options" that "may" be part of a solution brings them into the process of finding the solution. Ultimately, when you do propose a solution, you'll want them to feel as though they helped engineer it - this process helps with that.  Discussing "ballpark" pricing (aim high) is also important so that you can start to gauge whether their budget is in line with your offering.

5.  Gain agreement to the opportunity

In my books, an opportunity to do business with a new client is defined by 3 factors 1) they have a need  2) they have a budget to address the need 3) They have a fixed timeline within which the need needs to be addressed.  If you don't know about all three factors - you need to do more probing.  Once you are satisfied that you think you know them - ask the client if you're right.  Something along the lines of "If I can provide ________ (service/product) by ________ (time) and the estimated budget were ____ (high end of what you think it might cost), could you commit to working with us.  This gets at 2 things: 1) the opportunity, and 2) is this the right person to approve your deal.  The wording (could YOU commit to working with us) is very deliberate.

6.  What is their priority

The client may want your solution and they may even have a budget for the solution and they may even want it right now...but what are their other priorities?  A couple of questions that you can ask that will help you to understand whether your solution is at the top of the pile or just on the list might be:

Are there other projects or initiatives that this project depends on?
Are there other projects or initiatives that depend on this project?

By understanding those two factors, you can quickly understand what priority your proposal might be given.

In the last 20 years, I can assure you that not all of my meetings accomplished all 6 of these objectives, but I'm getting better, and hopefully your meeting goes well too.  If you could use some additional advice or coaching for your business, contact me today - I'd love to set a meeting with you. :)

By Keith Jolie

In : Strategies 

Tags: sales opportunities prospects meetings qualification funnel pipeline calls 
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