It’s the most nerve-wracking part of any business that needs it. Without doing it right, you’re not going to be able to make money. But you don’t have to be a Mad Men-esque charisma magnet to win over your clients. You just have to know how to present yourself and what you offer in a way that demonstrates value over everything else. We’ll look at how you do that.
Be a professional
The importance of showing your professionalism cannot be overstated. People can sometimes feel that too formal an approach can be a little stiff and impersonal. That’s true, but misjudging it in the opposite direction makes you look incompetent. Dress well, arrive before time and know your etiquette. Let them be the first person to break the professional barrier if they feel like it. If they do, always make sure you’re not pushing the boundaries of informality more than they are.
You shouldn’t just be coming in here with the same pitch you have for everyone else. People don’t like to be treated like just another face in the crowd. They like to be treated as a unique opportunity. If they’ve given you an indication of what they want before the meeting, then make that a focus. Otherwise, do your research on them. If you find they work in a certain industry, then make it clear how what you offer can help them in that industry. Do your homework. Make the value you offer specific to them.
Prepare a little something
You’re not here to give them a whole pitch verbatim. But you should be able to show them that you have a whole pitch’s worth of information for them if they’re interested. Bring a tablet with you and use it to develop and deliver a well-designed, data packed Google presentation. If they’re interested in seeing it, run them through it. But don’t make it overly rehearsed. If you spot opportunities to make the content more relevant to them, then take it. They don’t want to see someone who relies too much on what’s directly in front of them.
Keep adding value
The pitch doesn’t end just because the meeting does. Always follow up. Whether it’s later in the day or the next day. You need to strike while the iron is hot. It serves as a reminder that you’re there and of what you’ve discussed. To make a follow up truly valuable, you should use it to just add a little bit more value to the meeting, too. For example, remember a subject you discussed and provide a helpful link to illustrate a point you made. Show them that you’re thinking of them and what’s important to them. But don’t keep pestering them after that. Let them make their own decision without feeling like you’re desperate.
Remember that it’s important to be confident and be loose during client meetings. Don’t go in looking and feeling totally rehearsed. Show you have the materials to display your competence, but be willing to improvise a little if you feel it will work better for you. Your gut usually knows how to lead.