It’s a competitive market out there. To succeed as a business, you need to make a great first impression, and you need to remember you will be remembered by your last success or failure. And in between the first and last interaction, you need to be perfect every single time.
It’s not easy to on top of your game every single time, and it’s only human to get comfortable once a client relationship is going as well as it could. With comfortability also comes a lapse in attention and opening yourself up to competitors just waiting for a chance to swoop in and impress your client. Here are some tips to ensure your (potential) client will feel you are the right partner for them when (re)pitching.
When you agree to a meeting, don’t let the client do all the work and chase you for a time and date. Have a thorough look in your diary and give your client options up front. Nowadays it’s all too tempting to send emails back and forth, but a quick phone call might be a lot more effective. Picking up the phone, in general, seems to be becoming a lost art so if there a reason to call, do so. Hearing an actual voice not only will instil a sense of trust, but it will also make the other person more committal. It’s easy to cancel last-minute if you have never met the other person. Having spoken slightly ups that barrier.
If your client is meeting you in a place they have never been to, enquire how that person will be travelling in and provide directions if necessary. Next, give them an address, it’s a nice touch to add a link to Google Maps. Preparing reception to expect your guest is always a great touch. If it’s a valuable pitch, you can get creative and spruce up the reception area with a welcome text on a screen for example. Little touches personalised to the client will help you stand out. Perhaps you decide to wear a piece of clothing in your client’s brand colour, or you prepare an anecdotal story that will convey you understand their target audience. You can get USB sticks that contain your pitch presentation printed with your client’s logo. GB Labels can provide printed ribbons that will give that little bit of extra to the take-home bags. These little details will help your business be remembered.
Do some research on the person you are meeting. If they are arriving in a large group, the handshake phase is usually quite quick. Having studied faces and names will prevent you from calling someone by the wrong name.
If they are arriving just before or after lunchtime, consider if they would have had time to grab a bite. If not, offer to get a sandwich and always check for dietary requirements. Remember as well that if you are visiting the client, to accept when they offer you a drink. Allowing the client to be a host makes them feel positive about the relationship straight away.
When in larger meetings room and with a multitude of participants, try to avoid sitting together with your colleagues. Mixing up the room will lower barriers straight away, and it will feel less confronting. Start larger meetings with a process of contracting, share with the group what you are hoping to get from the time spent here and asks other to share what they expect and want. End every meeting with a summary of the decisions made, and follow-up actions agreed and put this in writing in an email. The best sessions are those that not only feel successful but also have a paper trail of actual decisions.
Sometimes it can be a while in between pitching and getting a decision from the client, especially when you were the first of many. Don’t sit back though, keep in contact! And that’s not to say you should ask them when the decision is made. You can proactively send on useful industry information, white papers, and other relevant information. Don’t be pushy, but show you are an absolute expert in your field and you are keen to win their business.
After you win the business, don’t get too comfortable. After contracts are signed, and orders are fulfilled, keep in regular contact. Keep abreast of how your client’s business is doing and establish a partnership rather than a client & supplier relationship. If you take care of the details, the rest usually takes care of itself.