Plan and Prepare
When preparing for the first meeting with a new client, it's easy to get caught up in everything that you want to accomplish. Depending on your business, you might want to sell the highest number of units or set the design direction of the company's new Web site. But even if you think you have the best products and the best ideas in the world, the only important opinion is the client's.
In the days leading up to the meeting, do as much research as you can about the client. Read the company Web site from top to bottom, paying particular attention to mission and vision statements. Companies put a lot of time into crafting these messages, so your pitch has to jibe with company culture. Read recent press releases and blog posts to understand what the company is most excited about right now. Then make a list of questions that remain unanswered. These might be useful at the meeting to get the conversation rolling.
Put yourself in the client's shoes, says client loyalty expert Andrew Sobel [source: Sobel]. What are the client's key business concerns? What pressures might the client be feeling in the marketplace? Where does the client want to go and how can you help him or her get there? Keep all of these concerns front and center as you craft your proposal.
When it's almost time for the meeting, get everyone on the same page with a well-written agenda. We'll discuss those on the next page.