10 Steps to the Perfect Client Meeting

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Your Turn

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.

Comments

  1. says

    Another aspect that can come from getting to know the client and choosing the right meeting place is making them feel comfortable. With this you can see what the client truly likes and dislikes, which makes it easier for you to not only be more secure in asking for the sale but also more liable to set a solid platform for referrals.

  2. says

    Great points. When I started using an agenda in my clients meetings I found that they went a lot smoother and stayed on-topic more. The other thing I find effective is to end all meetings by recapping any decisions that have been made during the meeting as well as the next steps that need to be taken (and who needs to take them).

  3. says

    Hi Web Design Nottingham! Thanks for your comment. I understand how you might feel about looking up your client on Google, but odds are that they’ve already looked you up.

    David Y, Excellent point. :) If you know what type of environment your client is most comfortable in you can take that into consideration.

    Some Design Blog–Thanks for sharing that experience. I think this is one step that is often overlooked, but it’s very important.

  4. says

    Good tips! I second the advice to practice the awkward parts. For me, that’s discussing my fee. Even if you can’t give a quote right then and there, better practice having a reasonable ballpark figure roll from your lips.

  5. says

    really great tips and some beautiful clients’ pic too…jokes apart..i think because of nervousness we do tend to make a mistake or two…following these tips can pacify the nerves to some extent

  6. says

    Barbara–I think a lot of freelancers balk at the fee, but that’s why it’s so important to get used to hearing yourself speak a more reasonable rate. It also is a good idea to thank about what you would charge for changes or revisions.

    Ensemble, Thanks for your kind words. :)

    Will. Definitely! Bookmark it and return to it when you need it. Feel free to look around the site and bookmark some other posts as well. :)

  7. says

    Thanks for your great tips. I think the skills for having a perfect client meeting is really important, not only the freelancers, but also the enterprises which want to gain the partnerships or at least a good deal.

  8. says

    Great tips! I like your 1 to 10 tips, it’s help to my business. because sometimes I feel shy and nervous to my clients. but when i read this tips I feel 100% confident. hehe

  9. says

    Great post Laura. I always find that asking questions can be the hardest part — thinking of what you need to know before you necessarily need to know it! I agree planning ahead is essential.

  10. says

    Another major thing to bring to a meeting is the less obvious stuff. A smile, a good attitude and a passion for your work. When people can see that you love it, they’ll love hiring you.

    I had a bunch of promotional stuff made for my own company (that I sell on etsy as well) and when I meet a client, I’ll bring a sticker or a pin. That way, they’ve got something floating around to remind themselves of me. Especially if they have kids or a significant other, offer one up for them too.

  11. Xavier says

    This is a great article.

    I must say that I’m practically obsessed with meeting preparation. I must be in control! Kidding.

    I truly appreciated the follow-up bit. Thanking your client for the meeting and recapitulating the discussion points really demonstrates a professional way of dealing, and it also gives another opportunity to drive home the value you can bring to the relationship and project.

  12. says

    Hey,

    thanks for this very brief but usefull post.
    Something i like to do in meetings with small companies is get them involved in the design since the very first contact.
    Reference pictures, fonts, drawings… I’ve noticed that they enjoy it, feel lots more involved. To me it is the starting point of job too. And I’m always surprised by the amount of feedback I get on clients expectations and tastes.

  13. says

    Always make sure to ask questions during a meeting. This will help you in the long run and you will appear way more knowledgable during the course of the project life cycle.

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