At a point in time when it seems that everything can be done electronically, making the time to meet with clients physically, face-to-face, is more important than ever.
As important is making sure that the meeting is successful, that it furthers the relationship, and that your client feels more satisfied working with you than they did before the meeting.
To that end, there are five client meeting mistakes that you’ll never make again, and one tip about something you should always do after the meeting.
1. Run Late
It sounds simple—so basic that it shouldn’t need to be said. But, with all the excuses around for running late—a last minute phone call, traffic, losing track of time—most of which are avoidable, simply showing up on time demonstrates that respect for the person with whom you’re meeting.
Career and entrepreneur coach, Farnoosh Brock, writes that being on time for a meeting shows that you respect the person with whom you are meeting and demonstrate that you’re are reliable simultaneously. After all, you made the commitment to be at a particular place at a specific time, and you kept your word.
2. Meet without a clearly stated reason
Even if you are just doing an annual touching-base meeting, there needs to be a clear purpose to the meeting. Do you have new numbers to report, or want to address the impacts of new policy or a leadership change? Is there a particular concern about a specific investment? Creating an agenda and communicating it to the client ahead of time is imperative.
Everyone is busy, so respect the time that your client is taking to meet with you by making it an effective meeting. This article on Blueleaf suggests an agenda that reflects your goals, but also–and this is key–proposes that you ask your client what they would like to discuss. Connecting before the meeting about the goals and purpose of the meeting will make for a much more useful sit-down.
3. Talk more than listen
The best way to show your client that you hear them is to actually listen. In today’s social media communication-all-the-time climate it often seems like there’s a lot being said, but no one is listening. And what’s being said can sound like nothing more than white noise.
Setting down your phone, being in the moment, and really focusing on the conversation will help you do the best for your client. According to an article in Psychology Today, active listening is the best way to further a relationship.
Poor listeners, however, are doomed. According to Psychology Today, “the problem with poor listeners is not only that they are perceived as rude but that they miss out on important knowledge.”
If your client is worried about ROI, or is anxious about an investment, for example, you need to know that. They may not sit down and dive right into such an emotionally charged topic. Attentive, active, listening is key.
4. Botch the Q&A
Even the best-planned meeting could take a turn into unknown territory. Your client’s great aunt just purchased shares of a pistachio farm in California and wants to give them to your client—so what are the tax implications?
Clearly answering questions that you don’t need to research is a great thing to do during the meeting, if you can. But if you don’t know or aren’t quite sure, it’s better to dig into the topic and get back to your client. Accurate, informed, information is one reason your client hired you.
As Neil Gaiman once said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Be sure to set a time frame to get back with the answer, and stick to it.
The One Thing You MUST Do!
Always follow-up with a thank-you. It doesn’t have to be roses and chocolates — a note or email will do — but your number one concern is that your clients leave the meeting satisfied and wanting to stay with you. A sincere “thanks for your time” goes a long way towards making that happen.