Meeting a new client for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Regardless of how long you have been working in sales where meeting with clients is the norm, you probably still get a little nervous right before a big, new meeting. To calm your nerves, you should keep in mind that both you and the client want the meeting to work favorably for both parties—this is why you got in touch in the first place. Your first impression is still crucial, of course, since behavior can potentially make or break a deal. Your new client meetings can happen in a variety of different settings that can affect both your behavior as well as the client’s, so you’ll need to be able to make a good first impression no matter the situation. Here are a few ways in which you should act in different settings.
For some, meeting a new client for the first time means making a presentation in a conference room. If this is your situation, you’ll want to dress professionally and make sure you are well prepared for the presentation. Go over and rehearse your presentation several times and anticipate any questions that may be asked of you. Know the material forwards and backwards. Your professionalism and knowledge of the client coupled with your ideas will make an excellent first impression.
Over the Phone
In some cases, your introduction to a new client may happen over the phone. Your attire may not play into this situation very much, but your attitude certainly will. You need to be sure to speak clearly at an appropriate volume. You should also try to avoid crowded areas like coffee shops or restaurants for phone meetings. In public places like these your phone can pick up a lot of background noise that will make it difficult for both you and client to hear. Consider a quieter, more private place that’s better-suited for your phone meeting.
With the proliferation of services like Skype and FaceTime, more professionals are making use of video chat to hold meetings and for meeting new clients. Whether this is an interview, sales pitch, or just a check-in, you’ll want to dress professionally, and you should consider what will be displayed on screen. Find a location that has a plain background so as not to distract the person on the other end of the call.
At a Restaurant
You might also meet a new client at a restaurant, most likely over lunch. Come to a mutual decision with your potential client about the restaurant where you will meet. Try to arrive five to ten minutes early so that you can greet your client and ensure they will not have to wait for you to arrive. Once seated, don’t immediate dive into business talk. Spend some time before opening the menus getting to know each other and build a rapport. When ordering, choose something light and easy to eat—something that will be conducive to conversation. At the end of the meal, insist on picking up the tab. Just remember to keep the whole experience simple.