By: Avenu President & Chief Customer Officer, Louis Schiavone Jr.
Now that face-to-face meetings are rare, it’s more important than ever to think about how to hold a productive and valuable meeting with your client or customer. As with any meeting, preparation and consideration are key for virtual conversations. Here are three things to keep in mind:
If there’s one resource there’s never enough of, it’s time. If a potential or current customer asks to meet with you, consider it a privilege. You are being given their time, and the meeting should be handled with that in mind. This means returning that gift with full preparation and a readiness to provide true value.
If your meeting has been scheduled for one hour, don’t draw it out just to fill the time slot. A short, impactful meeting is always appreciated; no one ever regrets an extra fifteen minutes to take care of work or personal issues. And if you think you only need thirty minutes to accomplish the agenda, then only schedule it for that time period.
Be the master of ceremony, not the speaker. Prepare well before the meeting by doing your research on the customer and the topic at hand. If this is your first meeting, have a good understanding of the company, check to see if you have any mutual business connections, and know if there has been any recent media coverage on the company. Create opportunities for the customer to open up based on what you’ve learned through your preparation.
Don’t discuss solutions until the problem is completely understood and the customer asks to hear what your company can do.
Follow up immediately. Busy customers will move quickly onto something (or someone) else. Deliver post-meeting value, whether that’s a proposal, an idea, an action item or a follow-up meeting on a specific interest. If you’ve offered to send a proposal or document, don’t send it later than you’ve promised it.
It’s also a good idea to show appreciation by sending a note of gratitude that reflects your understanding of the discussion and itemizes the follow-up. It’s helpful for everyone to have a written account of the points discussed that they can save for future reference.
Your customer should come away from any meeting feeling that the time was productively spent, the discussion was useful, and their issues were heard and understood.
Customers that are respected, understood, and appreciated are more likely to listen to the solutions you bring to the table. Whether they choose your solution, the relationship and respect built along the way will pay off in ways you may not predict in the future.