You’ve scheduled your very first client meeting and now you’re nervous. Will the meeting go well?
Of course, there’s no way to know for sure if your meeting will succeed, but there are some steps you can take to stack the odds in your favor.
In this post, I share ten (fairly) easy steps to help you prepare for the perfect client (or prospective client) meeting.
10 Meeting Planning Steps
If you’ve scheduled a meeting with a client or prospective client, use the following steps to help the meeting go more smoothly.
- Study the client. A big part of meeting success is doing your homework. Learn all you can about your client or prospect. Read their website. Type their name into the search engines. If you have any questions or concerns, call or email your client contact person.
- Plan the meeting agenda. It sounds simple, but you’d surprised how many freelancers go to a meeting expecting to answer questions without any preparation. Even if the client departs from the agenda, your planned agenda will give you something to fall back on.
- Choose the right venue. Where you meet is important. As a freelancer, you may work from home and likely don’t have a meeting room there. If your client is also small, you may need to pick a public location.
Look for a site that is quiet, conveniently located for both of you, and (of course) has an Internet connection available.
- Bring the right tools. If you need a tablet or laptop, be sure that you bring one. If you will be using presentation software (such as PowerPoint), make sure that it is loaded on your machine. Don’t forget meeting staples like a notebook and pencils.
- Bring the right samples. It’s likely that your client will want to see an example of what you’ve done before. If you can, put together a brochure or some printed samples for the client to take with them. Don’t forget to include your business card.
- Bring extra. It’s not unusual for a client contact to bring extra people to a business meeting. Be prepared by bringing extra business cards and samples.
- Listen. You may have done an excellent job of studying the client and bringing the right materials, but once you are at the meeting be sure to give your client a chance to speak. Listen carefully to what he or she has to say and try to determine how your business fits in with their goals.
- Ask questions. Some freelancers are afraid to ask questions, fearing that it will make them appear to be less of an expert. However, if you ask intelligent questions the exact opposite is true. Plus, questions show the client that you are truly interested in them.
- Ask for the business. As the meeting draws to a close don’t forget to tell the a prospect specifically that you want their business. It seems corny, but asking for the business really works. You may get the business right then, but even if you don’t, at least the prospect knows that you’re serious.
- Follow up. After the meeting is over, don’t just let the client or prospective client drop off your radar. Drop them a note to tell them how much you appreciated meeting with them. If you didn’t get the business at the meeting, call in a few days to see if they’ve made a decision.
What should you do if you struggle with some of these steps?
Practice the Awkward Parts
Do some of these steps seem contrary to your style?
Maybe you normally have trouble asking a question or asking for the client’s project.
One tactic that can help is practice. Alone, or with a friend playing the part of a customer, practice the parts that you wouldn’t naturally do.
For example, if you’ll be giving a presentation to a client, give it to your friend first. Have your friend think of a few objections that might come up so you can practice answering those. Practice asking for the business until it becomes second nature to you.
Planning and practice can help you get the gig.
How do you ensure that your client or prospective client meetings go well? Do you have any tips to add to the steps above?
Share your answers in the comments.