When I first set up my business in 2000, I had the opportunity to speak with a potential new client. I earned a visit to his office and wanted to find out about him, his business and issues that I might be able to help him with. I remember asking the question “Tell me about your business?” It went well.
Recently I was speaking to a delegate on a sales programme I was running, recounting a similar story, but his was based in 2015. He asked the same question “Tell me about your business?” and he was promptly thrown out of the door. He couldn’t understand until I explained that the world had moved on.
If a salesperson asked me that question about my business, I would throw him out too.
Here’s a four point checklist for perfect client meeting preparation:
- Determine your objective for the meeting. Don’t go for the usual outcome based objective but the process you want to conduct. For example, rather than setting the objective of achieving permission to send a proposal, I would set my objective to carry out an effective exploration of the customer’s challenges and issues surrounding their needs.
- Have a structure or an agenda. Share this with the customer in advance.
- Prepare any technology you’ll be using. Make sure the battery is charged, wifi is available, the slides are working or you have a set of whiteboard pens in your case.
- Research your customer’s business and self. I like to LinkIn with customers if I can and find out all about their business. I usually start my meetings with “I’ve been researching your business from the web. If I recite what I know, will you correct any omissions?”
Rather than “Tell me about your business?”. Back in 2000 it was acceptable, but it’s not now.