Making coffee count
By Russ DantuFeatures
Put some thought into your sit-downs with clients for best results.
Have you ever been asked to coffee or lunch with a supplier and afterwards you wondered what the point of it was? Maybe they didn’t seem to pitch you, ask for help or thank you for your business. I’ve had many of these meetings over the years where I left scratching my head and wondering why I wasted my time. To further compound the issue, there was no follow-up afterwards. Most of us are very busy and cannot afford to be wasting time.
So, if you want to impress a possible prospect or current customer when you invite them out for coffee or lunch (or golf, hockey or other event), follow these suggestions below which will help you be more successful.
Specific is terrific. Be specific when you ask to meet with them. Let them know what it is you are hoping to achieve. This will get their wheels turning and help them be better prepared for when they meet with you or have them decline so that they aren’t wasting your time and you aren’t wasting their time.
Once they agree to meet, do some deeper research. Look for recent news or something interesting on their website or LinkedIn that you can mention when you meet with them. This will impress them that you took the time to learn a little bit more. Follow up the day before to make sure they are still available. I always leave my cell number with them, just in case they have issues right before the meeting.
Arrive 10-15 minutes early. It’s never a good thing for your prospect or customer to arrive before you. Arriving early gives you time to clear your mind of all the clutter that may have been happening in your head before arriving. It also allows you to review whatever agenda you have with that specific person. It’s never a good thing to be late to a meeting. If you want to annoy a prospect, being late will definitely do the trick!
If it’s coffee, definitely pull out your wallet to pay because you invited them. If they argue and want to buy their own, push but not too hard. Some people may think you are trying to buy their business. Since they have given you their precious time though, I think you should always buy. If it’s lunch, dinner or an event, you absolutely have to buy.
Don’t ask for several things in your initial meeting with them. Have one clear objective and if it goes well, then you can schedule a time to meet again in the future to ask for something else. When I do well in the first meeting, I’ll usually ask if I can see their place of business and let them know that it helps me refer them if I hear someone mentioning a need for whatever it is that they do.
I always take a notepad with me. Our minds can forget a thought in less than 30 seconds. Having paper and a pen nearby helps us remember important things said during a meeting.
Always respect your customers’ time. If you asked them for 30 minutes and they agreed to that, at 25 minutes, make sure you bring it up and see if they have extra time or need to wrap up the meeting to stay on time. This again, shows you care and respect your customer and their time.
Follow up afterwards. Thank them for meeting with you, recap what you spoke about and what the next steps are. Book a second appointment if necessary. Even with a prospect where the coffee date didn’t go exactly as I had hoped for, I usually ask if I can check in with them in three months or six months. Sometimes things change by then and the prospect is now in need of what I offer.
We all have too many meetings each and every week. When you set up a meeting with a prospect or existing customer, be prepared.
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit russdantu.com.
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