Making a great impression is essential in business, particularly when you’re trying to woo new clients. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come easy for everyone.
In fact, even if you’re good at it, some clients will be difficult to impress no matter how hard you try. If you practice a few unique but classic techniques, though, you stand a better chance of having a positive impact on even the pickiest of prospective clients. Here’s how.
1. Do Research on the Client
There’s no better way to impress a new or potential client than to come to the meeting having done your homework on the person’s background and company. It sends a clear message that you’re serious about doing business with them and you’re adept at your job.
2. Study Hobbies
Establishing personal connections with clients can be just as useful as making professional ones. Find out what hobbies your clients enjoy and study up on them. If they are into sportsman related topics, for example, subscribe to a blog about hunting and fishing. That way, you can offer insights when the conversation comes up. At the very least, you won’t look like a dummy if the other person starts to talk about it.
3. Be Present in the Interview
Give your full attention when you’re in the meeting. Leave your troubles and cares behind so you aren’t the least distracted. Offer follow-up questions and comments to show you’re totally invested in the discussion at hand.
4. Reevaluate Your Appearance
A professional appearance will go miles toward showing you’re an expert who takes your job seriously. If your dress and grooming don’t normally achieve professional levels, go shopping and get a makeover. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the look you adopt. If you’re uncomfortable, that could affect your performance.
5. Practice Giving a Firm Handshake
Firm handshakes convey confidence. They let clients feel they’re in good hands. Practicing is the only way to give better handshakes, so ask a friend and get to work.
6. Remove Unnecessary Electronics
In some meetings, having your phone or a tablet on the table may be necessary for productivity. But often, it will be distracting to both you and the others in the room. Turn your gadgets off completely and put them in your briefcase when you go into client meetings if you can be fairly certain you won’t be requiring them.
7. Know Everyone’s Name
Go over the list of people in attendance at a meeting beforehand and memorize it. Then greet everyone by name. A person who can master the skill of remembering personal details will give the impression of being capable of handling the sensitive issues that arise.
8. Ask Useful Questions
Amateur businesspeople sometimes regard asking questions as a sign of weakness. Experienced professionals know it’s a sign of engagement and professionalism. Questions help to ground you in the client’s mission and ensure you’re on the right track. Practice asking productive questions to keep a meeting moving forward.
9. Don’t Focus on Yourself
When people get nervous, they often resort to talking about the topic they know best: themselves. Be mindful of the topics you raise in conversation. When you get nervous, ask clients about themselves to dispel some of the attention and keep it on them.
10. Note Your Body Language
Your mouth might say one thing, but if you aren’t careful, your body could say something entirely different. Tactics such as maintaining steady eye contact, smiling slowly and genuinely, and taking deep breaths before you speak can help to create positive impressions in front of the client. Darting eyes, shaking hands, and sudden laughter tend to communicate something entirely different.
11. Be Punctual
Along with arriving early to meetings, start them on time whenever possible. This conveys professionalism and preparedness. Of course, emergencies and unforeseen circumstances will occur, but if you set a standard of starting on time during most of your meetings, clients will readily forgive a lapse when you have a solid excuse.
12. Have an Agenda
Meetings can often get off track, which does not make a great impression. Time is money in most business settings, and clients won’t be happy if you waste theirs. Start your meetings with an agenda of key points to keep on track. If you begin to drift, as meetings will do, you should always have your schedule in front of you to pull you back.
13. Offer Action Items
Meetings may feel productive in the moment, but if you adjourn without clear action items that both you and the client can tackle, in retrospect it will seem pointless. There’s a difference between being productive in meetings and being busy. Make sure you’re ending with useful actions rather than busy work.
14. Trust Yourself
Confidence is paramount in creating successful first impressions. If you trust yourself to handle any project, even if you don’t know everything up front, you’ll show the client that you can be trusted. If you don’t trust yourself, lack of confidence will surface and make the client uncomfortable and skeptical about the arrangement.
Client connections are much easier to achieve and retain when you foster a lasting impression. The list of tactics above is worth a quick refresher before you enter every one of your new client meetings.