As my brand has grown, I get more and more requests for business meetings, opportunities, and of course customers. However, as my brand grows, my available time to meet becomes less. So it is imperative that my meetings are timely and stay on schedule. It has also become very apparent that not many people understand how to conduct a meeting, or their role in the meeting. So let me explain, at least in dealing with me.
Look at a meeting as a first date. You are trying to impress your potential client. You want to show them the best of who you are, and what you have to offer. You are not likely to get a commitment from a first date, much the same as you may not get one from a first meeting. It is purely the opportunity to make yourself known on a more intricate level. And if all goes well, you can move on to the next level. At times, it is a screening process, designed to weed out people being considered. Especially in a first meeting, check your ego at the door. Unless you are selling something your potential customer has to have, that no one else sells, it is all about them. If they don’t like you they will not buy from you. I am the same way. I will pay more to work with someone I like, than someone I don’t.
First: I am a busy man. I don’t meet for the sake of meeting. I don’t schedule meetings to fill up my calendar. I meet with a purpose, and if that purpose is not fulfilled, it was not a successful meeting. If you meet with me, have a reason. Know about my business. Don’t tell me you want to meet with me to see “how our businesses can work together”, if you don’t know what I do. I consider it a sign of disrespect and lack of professionalism, and I WILL NOT work with you period. In fact I will sit in that meeting waiting to leave. I will delete your number from my phone (if it is in there), and I will never call you again.
Second: I initially meet in person. I don’t have phone meetings with people I don’t know, until I am comfortable working with you. I ‘m a country boy from Arkansas, I like to look in the eye of the people I deal with. I have to know who you are as a person before I deal with you. So don’t ask to have a phone meeting initially. It won’t happen. Don’t assume that our first meeting will be a phone one. You will be mistaken.
Third: Be aggressive. Show me what I have to look forward to in dealing with you. My photographer, became my photographer because she was aggressive. She had talent, but she was confident and respectfully aggressive. She knew she was good, and she was ready to show me.
Fourth: Have a plan. Have a plan when you meet with me. Don’t spend 30 minutes with useless chatter, then rush to finish the meeting because you have another appointment. I view the way you work with me, as a reflection of how you will work for me. So if you are disorganized with me, I see you as disorganized. I can only judge what I see from you.
Fifth: Call me. I am not going to track you down to spend my money with you. It isn’t my job to track you down. If I tell you I would like to meet with you to discuss using your services. I’m not going to call you again. If you aren’t concerned enough about your business to follow a hot lead, then you won’t give me the service I require. I feel that if I have to track you down and ask you to call, then that’s what our relationship will always be.
Sixth: Tell or ask don’t assume. I’m the customer. Don’t assume I know your business. I know suits, not PR or photography. If you do PR, and I am looking for a PR person. Ask what I am looking for, but understand I’m not a PR professional, so I don’t know all of my options. I expect you as the expert to paint a detailed picture from my general set of goals. I expect you to be able to map a path to my goals.
Seventh: Do try to sell me. I know when I want to buy or not. Don’t try to sell me. If I’m interested I will let you know. Though i like aggressive when it comes to your personality, I don’t like pushy salespeople. If I tell you let me get back to you, I will get back to you. If I’m not interested, I’ll tell you. But even if I am interested, and you are too pushy, I will get your service from someone else.
Eighth: If I’m looking at your service, impress me. Typically, I’m a person that talks to a number of people that do what you do. I will interview a number of companies for various reasons. Most important being, you will be a part of my team and you will represent me. It is important that your brand represents my brand effectively. Cost isn’t always the most important factor. It’s about how we work together, and how well we speak the same language. I need to know you fully understand my brand so I know you can represent my brand.
Ninth: Dress Appropriately: I’m a professional, and I expect my potential business partners to be as well. I prefer you to dress professionally when we meet. I understand not all businesses require suits, but I do expect you to dress in a manner that reflects how you do business.
Tenth: Get me emotionally invested. If a person has a personal connection to a product he is more prone to purchase it. I am currently looking for a PR person. I have spoken with a few. I have been given quotes, and I have list of services. What I haven’t been given is a plan. PR is an unquantifiable service. A person can be working their but off and get no results, or they can make 3 phone calls and change your world. Since there isn’t a tangible product that is being offered. I would like to know what the plan of action is; especially since it’s the success of my name and brand that’s at stake. If I’m shown a plan I can look at, understand, and believe in. I am more prone to work with that person. I don’t expect a plan in the first meeting. As I said, the first meeting is about getting familiar, and comfortable, with each other. I would expect to get a plan in 2-4 days.
As you can see, I have a specific way that I like business to be conducted. It may not work for you, or it may. But as for me, this is what I need in order for us to do business. Understand, a meeting is an audition for a role as provider of your services. You are one of many that may be vying for that position, so you never want to give your competition a leg up on you. The initial meeting may be the only opportunity you get to show someone who you are. So don’t blow it.
God bless and dress well