Seven Best Practices for Client Meetings and Proposals
by Eileen Monesson, CPC, PRCounts, LLC –
July 19, 2017
Meetings give you the chance to enrich a relationship with a client or prospect. Provided you prepare, focus on the individual’s needs and deliver value, meetings can present a business development opportunity.
Here are seven best practices:
- Prepare for the meeting a week in advance. Even if you have worked with the client for years or know the prospect, review their website. They may have launched a new brand, introduced a new product or service, expanded their facilities or hired key personnel. Read recent press releases to ensure that you know what they are doing and why. Take the time to investigate strategies to help them save money or work more efficiently. Look at industry trends and government regulations that might impact their company. Owners of small and mid-sized companies do not have the time to keep updated on everything. They rely on you to do this for them. You can add value by coming to a meeting with recommendations to help them grow their business or solutions to potential issues.
- Know who you are meeting with. Most people will read an individual’s biography and/or social media profile(s) before a meeting. Take it a step further and Google them. You will be amazed at what you might find out about the person. Information on social causes, charities and volunteer work will come up, as well as published articles, media mentions, seminars, strategic relationships and family news. You can use this information to develop a stronger connection with the person. Consider setting a Google Alert (google.com/alerts) on key individuals to keep abreast of what they are doing.
- Send an agenda. It is advisable to have an agenda for every meeting to ensure that the right topics are discussed. An agenda will also serve to keep you on track. Send it to everyone a few days beforehand to help them prepare. If someone is expected to contribute to a conversation, add their name after the topic. If applicable, also include a summary of what was discussed in previous meetings and what people were supposed to do for this meeting.
- Be professional. You have less than seven seconds to make a good impression. Show up early, start and end the meeting on time, and dress appropriately. Consider investing in a portfolio and nice pen. Organize supporting documentation according to the agenda for easy reference. Package participant handouts in a branded folder. Allow people to express their ideas within limits. Be respectful of them and other people’s time. “Park” ideas for a future discussion, if appropriate.
- Listen to what the client has to say. Let the client or prospect talk for 80 percent of the meeting. He or she will give you everything you need to know if you ask the right questions and allow them to talk. Resist the urge to take over the conversation with all the information you know.
- Take notes. Many topics can be discussed during a meeting. Make sure that you remember all points addressed by taking notes on who said what, what was said and who offered to do something. If someone has a side conversation with you after the meeting, write down a summary of that discussion. It could serve you well if an issue arises.
- Send a synopsis of what you heard after the meeting. Include what was discussed, assigned tasks, deliverables and due dates. Ask the client or prospect if everything is correct to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
If you are meeting with a prospect who asks for a proposal, focus it on the points discussed and what you learned. Present your services and solutions around their pain points. Emphasize how they will benefit from working with you instead of how wonderful you are.
Clients and prospects are impressed when they know you can help them. Everyone wants a return on their investment. Present the value you bring to a relationship, and you will have a client for life.
This article appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.