5 Things You Must Do Before Meeting With A Potential Client

by Lauren Schneidewind on December 16, 2015

Great job on getting a new lead AND getting it to the next step: the first meeting. Now it’s time for some homework. This is one of the most if not the most important steps in landing a new client. We need to sit down and make the effort to get to know someone. The amount of time you spend depends on many things such as: how well you know the industry, the size of the client, etc... My rule of thumb, I tend to spend about 30 minutes on an audit client (10 hour service) and 2-3 hours for larger clients that need development work. Honestly, I hate that I spend less time on the audit clients, since all clients are important, but I am human, I am going to spend more time prepping on the larger client. Regardless of how you manage your time, there are five crucial steps that must be done before every single new client meeting.

Check Out Their Company

This is pretty straight forward, but necessary. We need to know what a company is about by finding out what all their strengths and core competencies are. This information helps us increase our credibility because we can better hone our sales pitch and better align our talents with the potential clients. However, this can also lead to information about whether or not they are a good fit from the consultant perspective. We might find out that they aren’t the fit we thought. But hey; it’s better to find out this information early on rather than several weeks in. The bottom line is we need to go into the meeting educated about what their company does and where they fit into the market space.

Check Out The Person You Are Meeting With (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc…)

I would argue that Googling the person you are meeting may actually be more important than researching the company. This is because we are talking to a person rather than a company about what we do and why they are looking into outsourcing their issue. I love to Google people, which tend to work better when you have a name like Schneidewind, rather than Smith. I feel like I can find more real information about someone this way and even potentially find more information than I wanted. My go-to social media is LinkedIn. This seems to be the best source of professional information. I hardly ever check out Facebook because I really hope we all have our privacy setting up and don’t let random people see our personal lives. I am a big fan of privacy regarding Facebook. Facebook is also personal rather than professional. It might be a good source to find common ground with someone but other than that, I don’t spend much time on it to research potential clients. Anyway, back to why we are social media stalking our potential client. I like to know who I will be talking to, which is going to alter how I approach the entire situation. If I check someone out on LinkedIn and notice they are a developer, I am going to grab our CTO for the meeting compared to if the person is in Marketing, then I am going to handle the meeting myself. This information can be used as a launching pad for valuable information. This research also lets me be nosey, in a minimally creepy way. I also really like this part. I am always curious about the person I am meeting, as well as it provides me with information that assists me with how I speak to the person I am meeting.

Find Common Ground

All of this socially acceptable cyber stalking is great, but one of our objectives is to find common ground. We are trying to determine how to speak to someone and finding something in common is a great way to break the ice. For me, I am a big scuba diver, so, if I notice someone that likes to travel to the beach, I am going to start that conversion. As a bonus, I love talking about scuba diving, and this gives me a reason to bring it up more often. All we are doing here is trying to relate to our client, most people like to connect on some sort of personal level, but then again not everyone does, so take the info online and gauge it with their nonverbal queues they give off during the meeting.

Find Areas Where They Excel And Be Sure To Mention It To Them

We all like to be acknowledged for things we do well, so this is a great time to let a potential client know when they have done something awesome. This area of complimenting can get a little hairy because you don’t want to come across as too eager, but rather a professional fan of their work. These compliments also need to be genuine. There is nothing worse than receiving positive feedback from someone that isn’t being genuine, it is much worse than not saying anything at all. So, be careful with this one, you really need to believe what you are saying.

Determine How You Fit In With Their Needs

This one might be a bit obvious also, but we need to fight the urge to tell someone how great we are. We need to focus on what we have to offer that the client is currently looking for. We might need to wait until the meeting, but you were probably able to land the meeting because the client already thinks you have something to offer. It is great to be on the same page so you can be properly prepared for the upcoming meeting.

The rule of thumb in this situation, and really anytime you take someone else’s time; make sure the homework is done. It was embarrassing not being prepared in school; but the stakes are much higher now. This first meeting can also be somewhat of a first impression. It is much better to blow them away with what you know about them and how you can help them, than coming in not prepared and seeming unprofessional.

What do you do to prepare for a potential client meeting? Let’s start a conversation!

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