I was recently with an entrepreneur friend of mine, who had a meeting set up with a client. He wanted me to come along just so I would get the feel of being a proper entrepreneur, and learn how things work while discussing directly with the client (who was also an entrepreneur). So, I went with him and sat through a lot of stuff which amazed, surprised, confused, and scared the hell out of me. But, why ?
10 things I learned from my first few business meetings –
1. Information must be yours –
As this was my first business meet, I was initially just sitting there listening to those guys talk about policies, bank accounts, money transactions, etc., I didn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation BECAUSE I didn’t know anything productive to say. As a result, the clients who initially were speaking to me like I mattered, stopped paying attention to me. They realized I had nothing to contribute.
The lesson here is to know the business. Know every single aspect of a meeting – how transactions are made, bank policies, technical aspects of the business, and the client themselves.
2. Body Language speaks –
When they thought I wasn’t a real player, I had to do something. I had to get their attention to me as well.
I had read other blogs which spoke about body language. How it can be leveraged in your favor; all those fancy stuff. So I did. I puffed up my chest, crossed my legs, and sat there like a king, mimicking other business-men who were there, meeting their clients.
In a span of roughly 3 minutes, that client (who was a bit of a pain) automatically started addressing me. Asked me about what I do, how my business was going, what I could to their business. In-fact, we struck a deal for me contributing to their startup. All this from puffed chest, and crossed legs.
3. It’s perfectly normal if clients are arrogant –
These were my first few business meetings; and I instantly found the client arrogant, cocky, and a plain ass ! Now, my friend who had invited me along warned me about this. But it was only natural for me to have found this annoying.
Firstly, clients are supposed to seem arrogant, because otherwise we don’t do our jobs properly. Fear is the best motivator (not the only one though).
Secondly, it’s really each person’s character. There are some clients who are incredible to work with, and some who are hard to. When the latter happens, you need to know that it’s perfectly normal. You’ll get used to it.
4. Meetings are supposed to run for atleast an hour –
This is simply straightforward. There’s a lot to talk about – how to make the transaction, requirements of the clients to be discussed in depth, other ways to optimize the requirements, which bank to choose, and a lot of other stuff. All this takes at-least an hour to talk about.
5. Impression; that’s all that matters –
At the end of the meeting, the clients were so blown away by the way my friend and I spoke that they were ready to give us the project. My friend, who was pretty much used to these meetings spoke in proper business terms and he’s half the client’s age ! I spoke to the client about how I was going to contribute, and I found an opportunity to tell him how I started, I’m good at telling stories; so I sold him my skills and he now had an impression of the both of us. He finally decided to give us the project.
6. You call for the venue, you pay the bill –
regardless of the age difference and the venue. Like I said, we both were pretty much half the clients’ age. My friend picked a pricey place which seemed appropriate for these corporate meetings, and he knew we’d have to pay the bill because we picked the place. If at all they had picked the place, chances are, they would offer to pay the bill. With this meeting, they didn’t even try to offer. It was understood we had to pay (which we were prepared to).
7. Make use of the breaks you get –
The meet won’t be a continuous one. You’ll stop and order food, waiter interrupts you, etc.,this will cause distractions among everyone and pause the topic of conversation. It was at times like these that I pitched my venture; very subtly fcourse. In fact, the client fired up his laptop right there to check out my work, and it was at this point of time that he decided to involve me too.
In short, you’ll find these little opportunities that you can use to tell them a story about yourself, how you are passionate with what you do; this will only make the client want to work with you more, because now they know you’re involved on a personal level.
8. You don’t get to be arrogant just because they are –
You might have that urge to deliver a witty comeback you thought of while the client was busy being arrogant and giving you crap about how you’re supposed to answer your phone, or something irrelevant(or relevant), even when the reason might be legitimate; but you don’t. You suck it up, you put aside your ego and you work for your client.
My teacher who teaches a course about entrepreneurship quoted another entrepreneur saying that the clients come first before anyone. Even though you’re self employed. and you are your boss; you still answer to the clients and shareholders.
9. Don’t answer calls in front of the clients –
They need to know they’re being valued. So, it’s highly important that you ignore that call you’re getting, because little things matter. I ignored a few of my calls right infront of them and they seemed glad that I did that just because I was talking to them. It’s not just the clients, it’s human nature. People like it when they know they’re being valued. This will only increase your chances of landing that client.
In case it’s an emergency and you ignore the call, I’m pretty sure you’ll get that call again in a couple minutes. When you do, it’s alright to take that call.
10. Always have an internet connection –
Although you hardly use it, you will definitely need it just in case. To check out competition, how they are doing it, something on Google that you might need, ANYTHING. You are not a library of eternal knowledge, the internet is ! Granted that the internet is as basic as electricity, so you might have access to the internet 24/7, but this is worth mentioning. You will never have enough information with you and the internet will play a huge role.
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