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Organic Client Meetings

05-18-2011

Spring is here! In this spirit, we offer you some meeting skills tips to help you tend the garden of important relationships you have with clients and colleagues. And while much of your contact may be on the phone or through email, the most effective way to grow your business relationships is through strategic face-to-face meetings.

Before you meet - plan your garden:

  • Think about why you are meeting and set collaborative goals. Perhaps you are meeting with a client to ask them to approve a process you developed. Consider the benefits of the process to your client and ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” By specifically addressing what they need, they will likely respond more positively to your ideas.
  • Keep an open mind. We often prepare for meetings in order to educate rather than to learn. To break new ground with your client, plan some open-ended questions that you will use to probe for their perspective early on. Their input will help you learn about their priorities and enable you to position your ideas more effectively.

While you meet - get your hands dirty:

  • Plant your main messages up front. For example, you should be able to summarize your main idea in 10 simple words. You can go into detail later, but headline your main points up front and probe to gauge how your audience reacts.
  • Discuss the details of your information at the appropriate level. Consider your audience. Are you meeting with a technical person who will want to dig deep? Or are you meeting with a decision maker, whose ultimate focus is on the impact of your idea? Uncover what your audience needs and then tailor your information to them.
  • Get your client to articulate outcomes. Ask: “What results would constitute success?” By encouraging the decision maker to say the benefits of your idea, they are better equipped to promote your approach to others.
  • Summarize and clarify next steps by agreeing to ‘who will do what, by when’. Your job then is to follow up and follow through.

By planning ahead, tending to your audience’s goals, and listening to what they say, your relationships are sure to blossom!

Best regards,

Exec|Comm
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