So, you’ve secured the funding to get your business off the ground, you’ve carried out all kinds of marketing initiatives, and now you’re finally ready to run your first client meeting. First of all, congratulations! Obviously, this is going to be a very exciting time for you and everyone else with a stake in your company. Don’t let it go to your head though! Your first client meeting is extremely important, so here are a few tips for making sure it goes smoothly.
Give Great First Impressions
As I’m sure you’re aware, first impressions can count for a lot in various social and professional situations. I’ve heard some seasoned business owners say that from the moment you meet a prospective partner, client or employer, you have about seven seconds to inspire as much confidence in them as you possibly can! Make sure you’re maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor, even on days where things are always a little more casual in the office. Speaking of your office, make sure your client can see that you’ve gone out of the way to accommodate for them. Remove any distractions by silencing phones and blocking any IM windows you use. You may also want to tell some of your employees to clear the clutter off of their desk, and even hire in some office cleaners.
Use an Agenda
Now that you’ve been running a business for some time, you’ll understand the true meaning of the phrase “time is money”. Time is going to be extremely valuable to both you and the client, so make sure you’re keeping the meeting focused with an agenda, and not straying off down any kind of abstract tangents. Your client is sure to appreciate how efficiently you’re running things. It will not only make them feel valued, but will also bolster their faith in your professionalism and ability. Aside from that, drafting an agenda will also help to keep the client on track. Like you, the client is probably very proud of all they’ve achieved at their business. When talking things over, it can be easy for some clients to stray off from the subject you’re there to discuss, and start going into their whole company history! I’ll say it again; time is money!
Be Open and Manage Expectations
Obviously, you’ll want your client to have faith in your business’s professional abilities. Once you’ve gone through enough details about the project your client needs help with, you’ll probably be able to throw together a plan for going forward, and lay out some possible outcomes for the client to chew over. Just bear in mind that not everything is certain to go according to plan. There are going to be certain factors which are completely outside of your control. It’s best to stay open about these, tell your client about the challenges that may lie ahead, and what they’ll mean for them. This may sound like it will mar how they think of you, but believe me it would be even worse for problems to spring up unexpectedly instead!