The meet and greet is the business world’s equivalent to a job interview. The process of meeting potential clients can make even the most fearless of us break into a sweat.
When I set up my own business, I thought that the dreaded job interview was a thing of the past. Then, as I started to build up the business I realised to my horror that every prospect meeting involved going through that same process!
Here are some ways to make the meet and greet with potential clients your friend rather than a traumatic experience that produces no results.
The most important thing you need to do before you set foot anywhere near your potential clients is to research them thoroughly. Make sure you know the basics; location, travel time, their industry, their market and the type of work you’re going to discuss.
Then take your research further so that you know some background on their business, their competitors, all of their products and services and possible business development opportunities.
Part of your research should give you an indication of how you should present yourself in a meeting. For instance, law firms will expect business clothes whereas a design or IT company is likely to be more relaxed in its dress code. Look at the design, language and philosophies of the company’s website for clues.
Since we all make a decision about a person in the first 30 seconds of meeting them, this is important to get right. The potential client needs to feel comfortable that you are the right fit for their team.
Solve their problems
When you prepare work samples, make sure you target it to their particular issue. Being a whiz at producing sensational web copy isn’t going to help them create intuitive user-documentation.
The right work samples will do more than impress them that you’ve done your homework, it will also give your prospect the opportunity to evaluate whether you can produce the kind of work that they need.
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Make a personal connection
It’s essential to relate to the person that you are meeting with as a person, not just as a set of dollar signs. This is probably the single most important aspect of the meet and greet.
Although your potential client needs to be confident that you can deliver what they need and that you hold the same philosophies as them, finding a connection on a personal level gives them confidence that the relationship can develop and work over the long-term.
Circumvent the process
If the thought of the meet and greet still makes you break into a cold sweat, try making a connection before you meet.
One way to do this is to set up a work practice on your website whereby you offer a free one hour consultation over the phone. That way you can establish exactly what they are looking for and whether you are right for them. This has the added bonus of eliminating those hours of traveling to and from a prospect’s office only to find out that it was never going to work in the first place.
The previous ‘meeting’ enables you to arrive on more equal terms. You have a firm understanding of what they need and you can be prepared with a strong proposal ready to hand over there and then if you haven’t already sent it to them in advance.
Chalk it up to experience
If you walk out of a meet and greet with a less than enthusiastic feeling, put it down to experience, especially if you’re new to the game. Anyone other than a seasoned salesperson is going to have difficulty selling themselves in the beginning.
As your confidence levels grow, it becomes easier to establish a relationship and find ways of getting that all-important personal connection. And remember, even when you’ve been around the block a few times, there will still be people that you just don’t gel with.