by Denise Giacin*
You finally confirmed a meeting with the client you have been trying to schedule with for weeks. Your boss is watching closely and you know this opportunity is too important to fly by the seat of your pants. Sometimes being face-to-face with a client is cause for momentary lapses in judgment. Sitting across the table from someone you lose the comfort of writing carefully worded emails or the ability to hide your hair twirling habit a client never sees on a conference call. Everyone has quirks; however, it’s important to know how to keep yourself in check during client meetings.
These six tips will help you stay focused and reassure your clients they are in the best hands and can serve as an important reminder for both new and seasoned professionals alike.
Know who you are meeting with and have enough materials for everyone attending. (Bring extra just in case there is a last minute sit-in.) Make sure you understand the reason for the meeting as well as how you are going to contribute. If you are demonstrating a new product or service, make arrangements for everything you need (such as a laptop, Internet connection, conference room, etc). The more prepared you are, the more comfortable you will be and the more confident your clients will be in your abilities to provide them with the services they need.
Fully understand the product or service you are presenting and provide accurate and intelligible information to your client. Speak clearly, intellectually and choose your words wisely. Remember: you will need to adjust your approach depending on who you are meeting with, their familiarity with your product or service, and their position in the company.
Never Say Never.
While it is important to manage client expectations, try to avoid saying “no” or “impossible” during your meeting. If a situation arises, communicate how you will make an effort to look into any concerns or requests and that you will get back to them with a solution or appropriate alternatives. And give them a timeline of when you plan to follow up.
Clients do not want to hear how bad your day is going or how much work you have at the office. Pointing out negativity is only going to lead the conversation in that direction. Focus on positive, energetic conversation points to keep your client interested in what you have to say.
This should be a no-brainer; after all, you are a representation of your company. You do not want to show up at a meeting looking like you just rolled out of bed. Depending on your corporate culture, your dress may vary. Most companies make it quite clear how they would like you to dress and if there is any confusion you should inquire with your supervisor.
Mind Your Manners.
Always be polite and respectful. Never swear or use derogatory language, even if your client speaks freely. If you are having a meal, use proper etiquette. If alcohol is involved, know your limits and do not cross the line. Your maturity in these situations is reflective of how you will handle the account and, again, reflects on your company or brand.
If you are new to the area of client services, what do you find to be the most challenging aspect of client-facing meetings? If you are a seasoned PR, marketing, or client service pro – what tips can you give for weathering client meetings? What have been some of the challenges you have faced at client meetings and how have you handled them? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.
*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce