It’s a Date: How to Prepare for Your First Meeting

Posted by Elliot Jolesch on April 6, 2018

You may think that you’ve already made your first impression during your wooing of your potential client to set up your first face-to-face meeting. While it’s true that you’ve already started to make an impact on the person you’re meeting, it’s nothing compared to what they’ll take away from your first encounter. What you do before, during, and after your meeting can set the stage for a positive outcome now and into the future.

Preparation Activities

Once you’ve set the date, there are several activities and brainstorming necessary to prepare.

  • Create an agenda for the meeting covering everything that you’d like to accomplish during the session.
  • Brainstorm any concerns and questions that the client may have during the meeting to ensure that you can have a response prepared for them at the meeting.
  • Find ways of how your service will make your client’s life easier as a way to promote your product.
  • Boost your credibility during the meeting through providing research, other client feedback, and other methods.
  • Run through your presentation for practice in advance of the big meeting.
  • Go over any activities that will prepare you and your staff for the meeting.

Activities for During Your Meeting

When the day of your meeting arrives, there are several activities that you need to keep in mind during the meeting.

  • You may find that it’s necessary to bring all other key staff members to present portions of the presentation. It’s better to have them on hand to answer questions then to leave the client hanging.
  • Follow the lead of your client when it comes to the format you present.
  • Be ready to listen. Yes, you’re going to go over your presentation, but it’s vital that you pay attention to what the client has to say whether it’s comments or questions.
  • Follow through on any promises made for the meeting, such as having a particular figure or information they need to make a decision.
  • Provide them with the information necessary to seal the deal.

After the Meeting

You also should have several activities in place after the meeting, no matter the outcome.

  • Follow through with any promises made during the meeting as soon as possible.
  • Continue to work on the relationship between your company and the client.
  • Don’t get discouraged from hearing no. Go over what went wrong and what went right to find how you can prevent the problems and strengthen the positives.

Incorporating these different activities can help you to make a rockstar impression on your client during the meeting by selling yourself and your company.

The Elephant in the Room: Negotiation

One of the hardest things to handle is the negotiation during that first meeting as it can be intimidating. There are a few tips that can help you in making negotiation come naturally to you.

  • Create a pricing strategy, and stick with it. It can be easy not to set prices and just go with the flow, but this not helpful in the long-run.
  • Determine what you’re offering to the client, and prioritize the best characteristics first. This information will help you determine what you can give in on, and what really matters to you.
  • Take your time, and don’t feel as though you need to give in too quickly in the process. This action can lead to you selling yourself short, but knowing your value can help.
  • Keep in mind that no matter what you’ll still have to deliver a quality product or service at a price you agree upon.
  • Focus on negotiating with the person rather than the company they represent. Don’t allow them to put the company before what they believe would be a good partnership.
  • Remember that you shouldn’t lowball yourself too much. Once you’ve agreed to a figure, it’s complicated to get that number up. You need to make sure that you’re keeping your profits in mind.
  • Offer add-on services that can boost your profit margins and provide for the client’s needs.
  • Write up any requests for proposals that you get carefully to achieve a deal that does more than look good on paper.

The negotiation process doesn’t have to be feared when you know exactly how far you can go without sacrificing too much just to get a yes.

Nurturing Your Champion

Once you’re dealing with a company, it’s essential to maintain a good relationship with your contacts. This contact is the representative of the company that you’re speaking, and you should be grooming this individual or individuals to be your champion. You want them to be your ally now and in the future. This relationship can make it possible for them to vouch for you in the future in case of additional dealings.

While you may not be able to have free reign to pick your champion, there are a few characteristics that you want to look for in your potential champions.

  • Your champion should be someone that is respected in the company by supervisors and decision-makers.
  • Your champion should be able to consider the long run for their company’s interests rather than just short-term gains.
  • Your champion should have a good social network.
  • Your champion knows how to handle the system and get things done.
  • Your champion should be the type of person who’s willing to give credit where credit is due.
  • Your champion should have similar vision, values, and philosophy as you to work well with you.

You have the tools and know-how to prepare for all the exciting details of your first meeting. You’ll be able to plan and execute your proposal while working on improving your business relationship with those involved.