Editor’s Note: This post is part of our series on The 5 Types of Work Meetings.
For all of the meetings we are in on a daily basis, the client meeting is one that can make even the most social person have a fear of speaking in meetings. From the initial meeting or first meeting with a prospective client to conducting customer meetings on a recurring basis, if you are nervous about client meetings, have anxiety attacks in meetings, or anxiety sitting in meetings, it is time to ask yourself, “why do I get nervous in meetings with customers?”
The client meeting definition or client meeting meaning is typically defined as collaboration and communication with a customer to help understand and meet their needs. Many of us work on overcoming speaking anxiety in meetings & presentations with clients and tend to be nervous before meetings with them because we either don’t like not knowing what to expect from the client meeting conversation, we are afraid we cannot solve their problems, or we generally have a fear of meetings phobia so when speaking in meetings, anxiety overtakes us.
Here are a few important things to consider when navigating through the most challenging parts of conducting client meetings so you can face the challenge head-on with confidence and enthusiasm.
Before picking up the phone or knocking on the door, it is crucial you do a little homework. Working off of a website lead, cold call lead, or just reaching out on a whim means extra effort to not let that opportunity slip away. Client meeting etiquette dictates that you prepare so as to not waste a potential client’s time. Do some research to learn more about your client and create a sales meeting preparation checklist so you know how to prepare for a sales meeting each time or client meeting checklist that you can use for future new engagements.
Build a rapport
Yes, we need clients and yes, sometimes we need them more than they need us. But instead of approaching a client as a commodity that makes us feel a failure if they are lost to competition, if we instead view them as a human who has a need or challenge that can be solved for, then the challenge switched from “making a sale” to “understanding the problem.”
When you make a new friend, you may not realize that in the beginning. It starts with a common thread like another parent at the school drop-off, waiting in line at the grocery store, or sitting on the same bus at 6:05 am every day. Someone says hello, someone shares a compliment, or someone asks a question and conversation begins and blossoms into a friendship.
The client meet and greet is your chance to casually get to know your prospect or client. To prepare yourself for this, start thinking through first client meeting questions or recruitment client meeting questions and create a recruitment kick-off meeting template or recruitment meeting agenda that will arm you with a list of thoughtful questions you can have in your pocket.
When thinking about how to approach clients for recruitment and setting up a client meeting for the first time, ask if you can have some time with them to get to know them, their business, their challenges, and successes.
Create an agenda together
Once you have started building a rapport with a prospect or potential client, it is time to start using the information you had from the initial meet and greet and put the information to use. Hopefully, by now, you understand more about the client and their needs and have identified ways you might be able to help. However, if you go straight into presentation mode, you may immediately turn off an open ear to hearing your solution. What better way to move forward then to build the client relationship meeting agenda together!
When starting to build the framework of the agenda, try these tips.
Use the agenda to show you listen
If you have already had an introductory meeting where you used your questions to ask a prospective client, you are most likely armed with details about the person, business, and challenges they have. Use what you know from your questions to ask at first business meeting and apply those throughout the next agenda to take them a step deeper into the problem you hope to try to solve for. Use a meeting tool like Docket to create your agenda and organize it in a way that emphasizes the customer’s needs.
Build agenda items as questions
When an agenda item is like, “present product demo to customer,” you are telling them what you are going to do rather than how you are all going to work together. If you create an agenda item as a question, you open the topic up to being a collaborative step in the meeting where the customer will see they are a part of solving or answering the question. For example:
Questions to ask a client about a project might be, “What are the expectations for what we are trying to solve for?”
Questions to ask a client when designing a system might be, “What is the minimum viable product anticipated as an outcome?”
Questions to ask client on visit as a project follow-up might be, “What results are you seeing from project X and how can we help you take it to another level?”
Questions recruiters should ask candidates when helping to place them might be, “What are you looking for in a position and why”
Questions help create conversation and reduce the necessity to feel like an entertainer to fil space which can create additional challenges. Make sure each item is something that can be answered or actionable so you can show progress and success in the current and subsequent meetings.
Leave room for decisions and next steps
Make sure there is a spot at the end of the agenda (with time allotted) for decisions and next steps. This shows the client there is space for both of you to agree to what’s next and gives them comfort in knowing you plan to do more beyond the meeting.
Share your brand
Brand creates familiarity, builds confidence, and shows care. When you create an agenda, make sure your brand stands out so your customer immediately feels confidence in the information they receive. Use a meeting tool like Docket to create customized and branded agendas you can share with your clients.
Share the agenda and invite collaboration
Prior to the meeting and with notice, share the agenda and make it clear to the client that they can review and add to the agenda, leaving them open slots to ensure they can discuss what is important to them. By doing this, they will feel a part of the process, know they have a voice, and that your visit is mutually beneficial. Provide a workspace the client can easily access and feel comfortable working in and make it simple for them to contribute and collaborate with you.
Set an appropriate cadence
Assuming you will meet more than once, establish a cadence that makes sense for both parties. As part of client meeting best practices, take into consideration whether it makes more sense for an onsite client meeting, phone, or video call. Use every opportunity to meet in person when it makes sense so you can have a direct relationship and use video as an alternative. When thinking about why do some companies arrange social meetings with clients, sometimes it is best to just socialize rather than have set agendas. This can open up doors to conversation that may not happen within the confines of a templated meeting.
If you take the pressure out of the equation and focus your attention on getting to know your client and their challenges, you can apply your expertise and offerings as a service in support of all you learn about them through your client meetings.