It's important when going into any meeting with a client that you prepare (everyone know's the old motto "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail") but how can you do that? First of all, consider what sort of meeting it is, find out who's going to the meeting and why they're there. Once you have this information you're good to go.
The first client meeting
Although you may be a little nervous at the first couple of meetings, this is perfectly normal, just remember that they've asked you there so they're interested in what you have to say -after all, you're the expert!
It's very likely that they client will want to know more information about your company (not you!) so having a short synopsis of your company that can act as a base is very important. For instance, The Site Doctor has something along the lines of:
The Site Doctor specialises in creating bespoke web based applications centred on your business requirements. We work with some of the world's largest and most successful organisations in both the public and private sectors as well as a wide selection of SME's.
By combining specialist technology skills, with excellence in design, usability, accessibility and a unique business management process, we are able to deliver results-driven solutions including websites, intranets, Content Management Systems, enterprise portals, business applications and extranets.
As well as developing major applications, our skills in marketing and communications ensures that we deliver a consistent message across a number of interactive communication channels and also integrate your objectives within an off-line environment.
Since establishing The Site Doctor, we have encouraged all those involved to participate in the relevant online communities to not only improve their own knowledge and expertise but also give something back and help further other's careers.
To be fair, this monolog changes depending on who we're meeting and the general feeling of the meeting, for instance if you're addressing a panel then we might leave off the SME part and replace it with a list of your clients as they're more likely to be interested in your larger work.
Whatever your monolog is, it should be short and concise (I can digress somewhat sometimes when introducing The Site Doctor), make sure it's no longer than 2 minutes as if they want to know more, they'll ask.
Make sure you've prepared a short list of questions for the client either about themselves or the project they have in mind, some of these you might already have answers to so prepare questions on the responses. Here are a couple of standard ones:
- What are you looking to achieve with this project -do you have any goals/objectives already defined such as number of visitors, % increase in sales etc?
- Similar to above, a good question is "What would make you consider this project a success?" -then link it to their targets above
- Do you have any literature, designs or mood boards that would help with this project already prepared?
- What are your timescale's for this project?
- Are there any events or meetings that you would like to have this project completed in time for (99/100 there's a trade show coming up that they forgot to tell you about without being prompted
- Have you thought about a budget for this work? (They'll most likely say no, you tell us what it'll cost and we'll decide -there's a way around that which I'll blog about later)
If you manage to get this information (and any other relevant information) you're off to a good start with your project! Don't fret too much though if you can't get all the information or you don't manage to get the budget from the client the first time around, there are ways around it.
The most important thing about the first client meeting is that both parties feel at ease with one and other as this will form a good base to build the project on. If you're liked by the client they're more likely to do business with you -especially if they have to pitch you to their superiors.
My next post will blog about the project meetings and client feedback/sign-off meetings. At some point I'll blog about my successful networking tips and how to get a budget out of a client but that's enough for today!
What do you say when in your first meeting? Do you have any tips for what to say in meetings? Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts.