What’s The Best New Business Strategy for a First Meeting?

Question and answer from a reader (#2)
by Todd Knutson

build relationshipRecall that I promised to answer three questions from a reader in Finland. His second question is, "What's the best strategy for a first meeting?"

I've written in the past about the importance of first building a relationship with a prospect. Recession or not, one thing hasn't changed: people buy from people they like. You have to create a relationship with your prospect in order to create the trust upon which a hiring decision is made.

Conference Calls

A new business person, who's finding herself on more conference calls than ever before, suggested the following initial-meeting "get to know you" strategy. She asks her prospect to join the call 5-10 minutes before everyone else. She then has a few minutes of "unguarded" time to casually get to know them, and ask questions like:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What did you study?
  • What are they doing this weekend?

None of these questions are too personal. They're all questions you ask someone you're meeting for the first time, which is the point.

She'll then pass along what she's learned to the agency principals via chat or email so they can either steer the conference call towards or touch on something she just talked about. (You'll notice that she's also gleaned details about the prospect that she can build on every time she interacts with him.)

In-Person Meetings

Another new business person emphasized the importance of research in advance of a meeting, determining:

  • What are their needs?
  • How can your agency truly ad value?
  • What sets your agency apart - from the prospect's perspective?

Having researched and thought-through this information ahead of time, you're poised to ask good questions and act as a trusted advisor during the meeting, which is the best strategy I know of.

Lastly, a key part of having a successful first meeting is practice. Set yourself apart by never "winging it".

 

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