As the Coronavirus pandemic shows signs of receding, so too do its effects on the business world; the number of UK companies that are trading has reached 90% and is steadily increasing. As a result, many practices are returning to normality and start-ups are attracting clients for the first time. But how to make the best first impression? Here are some key ways to ensure your first client meeting goes smoothly.
Research Your Client
Your first port of call should be research. Knowing your client’s name, business and mission is a common courtesy, enabling you to provide quality service and retain their custom as a result. It also enables you to understand their needs on a deeper level, meaning you can tailor your service and, where possible, upsell to benefit both them and your company. Ahead of that initial meeting, go over what they do and exactly what they might need from you – and make sure to memorise the name of the representative you’re dealing with.
Demonstrate Good Hospitality
If you’re meeting in person, it will likely be on your turf – whether in a conference room at your workplace or at a venue or function space of your choosing. By ensuring your client is comfortable and treated well, you are sure to make a positive first impression. If in your office, ensure you have a range of hot drinks and biscuits available, and that the temperature in the room is within a reasonable range. If at an external venue, be sure to book a quieter table, and to cover the cost of the meal and drinks as a courtesy.
Maintain a Tidy Meeting Space
Whether you’re meeting in the office or via a digital medium, it is crucial that your environment is clean and tidy. Your conference room should be free of boxes and paperwork, wiped and sanitised, and ready for a professional conversation. If you’re meeting virtually, you should ensure the area covered by your webcam is similarly free of clutter. Mess can convey a lack of organisation, and can undermine any confidence your new client may have in you.
Personalise Your Proposals
If you are meeting with a client directly, it will be in order for you to understand each other properly; your client will want to convey their needs, and you will want to convey your offerings. If you come unprepared, your client will walk away and find a more engaged provider. As such, you should create a personalised portfolio and proposal, using the information you’ve learned through your research. This will impress them, and demonstrate that you have a keen eye for detail.
Prepare Business Cards
Image is extremely important when it comes to first impressions; a clean meeting environment is only part of the equation. Ensuring you show your company to be a well-organised, professional venture is key – and offering high-quality business cards for the client to take away is a key indicator. It’s also an excuse to get your direct contact information in their hands.
Allow Time for Questions
Finally, once you have delivered your proposals, you should ensure your client has room to ask any questions that may have occurred to them over the course of your meeting. Impressions don’t end with the declaration of the service you can offer. Time spent explaining points they might not understand or exploring alternate pathways within your proposal are all part of that crucial first meeting. It can all lead to a greater understanding – and an increased chance of securing new business.