If you are about to meet your first potential client and you’re unsure how best to prepare for the meeting, then you’re in the right place.
In today’s article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to prepare for meetings with customers.
Set yourself targets and gather information
Preparation is key when it comes to meeting customers. First of all, you should be clear about the objective of your meeting. Is it your first face-to-face contact? Or are you hoping to get a contract by the end of your meeting? How you should prepare and present yourself will depend on the type of meeting.
The purpose of an introductory meeting is for both sides to get an impression of each other. Your main aim should be to establish a relationship with your potential client and create a sense of trust. At a pre-sales meeting, on the other hand, your goal is to secure the contract and make sure it does not go to a competitor. So you’ll need to actively demonstrate your strengths and experience to show that you’re the best choice.
In addition to defining your aims, you also need to find out about the company and its products. As with a job interview, you don’t want to go to your meeting unprepared, so it makes sense to do some research and find out more about your potential customer. But why make all this effort? Preparing for a meeting has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with the downside.
The downside of preparing
The obvious disadvantage of preparing is that it means investing time and effort into planning. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. You will have to spend time finding out about your potential client in order to get a first impression of them. The second negative aspect is that, despite investing this time and effort, you can never be 100% sure that you will get the contract. Maybe the company has requested quotes from other freelancers too and will only make a decision after interviewing several others. If you don’t get the job, you will have put in all that effort for nothing.
Another potential problem is that if you concentrate intensely on your own agenda and issues, this won’t leave you much room for spontaneity and it can even make you seem less authentic. So make sure you show some flexibility as well as being well prepared. However, the advantages of preparing can compensate for the negative aspects.
The benefits of preparing
Nothing beats thorough preparation. Yes, you have to put time and energy into research, but this investment can really pay off. It helps if you know your customer: the better prepared you are, the more convincing you will be when talking to your potential client. Your research and the background information you have gathered will give you confidence. And this confidence will come across in your meeting with a client. You’ll create a professional, competent and convincing impression and win over your potential customer. Aspects such as your charisma can make a difference and convince a client to give you the contract.
Another advantage is that you can use the information you have researched to establish a relationship with the client more quickly. You know what they are talking about and can impress them with your in-depth knowledge. Your detailed research into the subject shows the customer that you are really interested in the project and that you’re dedicated. Your interest and commitment will also have a positive effect on your relationship by building trust and increasing your chance of getting the job. Thorough research and preparation will also help you and your potential client to negotiate efficiently. There will be no need for any lengthy explanations as you have already considered the issues in advance. This allows you to concentrate on the important points.
To sum up, the first step towards preparing for a meeting is good planning and research. The better you know your potential client and their company, products and services, the more likely it is that you will make a positive impression on them and get the contract. Your careful preparation and the time you invested will usually pay off. Your aims will vary and you will have to communicate differently depending on the type of meeting.
Working as a freelancer: how to prepare for meetings with clients (Part 2)
In our first article on ‘how to prepare for meetings with clients,’ we looked at the importance of preparing. In addition to research, other criteria also influence your success in a meeting. In our next article in the ‘Working as a freelancer’ series on Friday, 15 November 2019, we’ll give you a tips on how to get off to a professional and confident start in meetings.