When you go to meet with a new client, you need to have a list of objectives to accomplish during that meeting. A plan, if you will.
Why? Because it’s just so easy to fall into the trap of casual conversation for an hour or two—only to find that at the end of your time together, you haven’t closed the deal on any new business.
Before you take your next new business meeting, I want you to have these five phrases on your “must say” list. They’ll make your meeting much more efficient and productive for both parties.
“I’m not sure I can help you”
You probably read that phrase and thought, “Whoa…why would I say that to a potential new client? I’m here to close a deal.” Correct—you are. But you also want to make it clear from the beginning of your meeting that you have a specific skill set, and if what the client needs would be better suited working with someone else, you’d be happy to make that introduction.
This is a major trust-builder with a new client and shows that you’re not just taking this meeting because you want the money—you’re taking it because you care that this person finds the best possible solution to his or her problem.
“Tell me more”
Asking the person you’re meeting with to tell you more about their specific problem helps you gather the details you need to clarify a few unanswered questions, like:
- Do I have the skills/resources to help solve this unique problem?
- What obstacles is the client currently facing?
- Is this problem something I have helped someone with in the past?
Letting the client elaborate on the issue at hand is the time when you should be taking notes and actively thinking about what you can bring to the table.
Bonus: It shows interest, and demonstrates a willingness to create a custom solution. Everyone feels like their problem is new and different—so let them explain why.
“What is your process for decision making?”
This question will help you gauge how much the client has thought about potential solutions—and what tactics they have in mind to try out. It’ll also tell you a bit about his or her work style, which you want to have a good picture of up front.
If the client isn’t sure how to answer, this is your moment to propose some decision-making tactics that illustrate your expertise. Propose some plans of action and show that you have a clear path in mind.
“What’s your plan B?”
You want to know what the client’s second option is—especially if it’s not working together with you. This will help you identify threats to the working relationship and shows that you’re already thinking ahead.
If you’re worried that you’ll be having the same conversation with the client six months from now, you need to ask this question. Show that you have a plan to solve the problem today—and that you can help them immediately.
“Are you ready to work together?”
So many people forget to make the hard call to action at the end of the meeting while they’re still face to face with the client, and as a result, they end up trying to chase down the client via phone calls or email to finally seal the deal.
Don’t assume you’ve got a new client—make the formal ask by saying, “Let’s do this. I have a plan, are you ready?” If you get an affirmation, lay out the process, the costs, and get them to sign the paperwork right then and there.
Get the Most Out of Each New Business Meeting
With these five simple phrases, you can completely transform your process for a new business meeting so that both you and your potential client waste less time and leave feeling like you accomplished something worthwhile.
In business, you know that time is money—so start making your time more profitable.