Top questions to ask on a first client meeting
6 October 2021
The first client meeting is essential for fostering a successful client relationship and getting that sale. It can be a nerve-wracking experience meeting a client for the first time, and when it goes badly, it puts the rep back to stage one.
We will provide a list of tips and questions you need to ask to ensure your next client meeting goes smoothly as possible. We start with knowing how to prepare, provide a meeting agenda sample, explain how best to communicate in these first client meetings, provide a few extra tips, and stress the importance of writing a follow-up email and how best to do that.
How to prepare for a first client meeting
When you first meet, you should know some things about the client already. Knowing details of the client’s needs, their company, and some facts to help facilitate conversation, will help you. Use the internet and any resources available to you to find out as much as possible about them. This saves time, gives you the ability to find some common ground, and can help you tailor your pitch. Here are some things to research before the meeting:
Their company: what they sell, their competitors, their market
What particular package is best suited for them
The individual client’s public information
Be ready to make a good first impression
What is vital for you to remember is first impressions count for a lot. Some evidence in a study by Princeton psychologists who published in Psychology Today says first impressions are made in one-tenth of a second. How can you make a good first impression, though? Follow these tips:
Be well-groomed and well-dressed. People make judgments on appearance, so it is important you look presentable. Also, you are representing your business, so dress appropriately to do so.
Smile. In a study by the Association for Psychological Science, it is proven that smiling is a sign of friendliness and altruism, and people are more likely to trust you.
Good posture will help you look more confident.
Speak slowly and clearly, to look confident, articulate clearly, and help your sales lead to understanding you easily.
Prepare all relevant documents, information, and portfolios
The last thing you want to be doing in a meeting is struggling to find the relevant information to show the client in a pile of papers or to click through a hundred tabs to get the right slide from a presentation for them.
Have everything ready, accessible, and well presented. Whether it’s physical papers, in which case have them tidy in folders and visually stimulating, or on a shared screen, in which case it should be visible, not crowded with other notifications and personal links that may distract the client or paint you in a bad light.
What documents should you have?
Previous client and project information which shows your capability to achieve results
Any portfolios of relevant work
Positive feedback from ex-clients
Provide an info pack
You also should consider providing your client with an info pack. This is a set of documents you send to the client, for them to read themselves (best after the meeting), to review any information again you went over, and learn further details. This can include, but is not limited to:
What services you provide with prices and package details
All relevant contact details, ideally branded
Links to social media and website
A description of what project stages you will go through
A preliminary project timeline estimate.
Have an agenda
A meeting agenda is essential for you to plan the structure of the meeting, as it keeps the discussion focused and helps you achieve the goals you have for the particular meeting. Now, in a client meeting, there should be plenty of space for two-way conversation, so in these instances, there is flexibility with the agenda running time, but you should know what to discuss and have this prepared.
You may wish to share this agenda beforehand with the client if it feels appropriate so that they also know what to expect and can prepare. Notiv can help you by allowing you to share your meeting agendas.
First client meeting agenda template
Now we will talk about what a first client meeting agenda looks like:
Introduction of sales rep
Inquire how the client found the service
Ask what do they hope to get from the service on offer
Explanation of the service
Inquire about budgets and decision-makers
Any remaining questions from either party
Here we can see how the meeting is all about introductions, explanations, and beginning to get the client to understand what is on offer and how they can help. By finding out decision-makers and budgets too, the rep can use this information in the future for future calls. Maybe other people need to be in the calls. Maybe the pricing can be adjusted for them, or certain packages are better suited for their budgets. Remember that in the first client meeting there is no selling, the conversation isn’t too lengthy, as more details will be established in the discovery call, which should most likely be the next call.
An extra tip, templates can be found online. Hypercontext, for example, or Fellow can help you create and share agendas.
How to communicate to clients in the first meeting
This is a great way to establish a positive impression of yourself, create a bond with the client and break the ice. What is important is to ensure your small talk is friendly and light.
A study by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people like others with something in common, and small talk can help you establish this.
Ask questions on topics like weather, food, recent (non-controversial) events, music, as this can start the conversation, and even if you disagree on something (maybe the client likes cold weather, and you don’t) this is a perfectly acceptable and subjective disagreement.
Confirm the agenda
At the start of the meeting, as well as potentially before, you should communicate what you will be talking about in the meeting. Check the client is okay with that, as it gives them a sense of autonomy in the meeting. This will foster a better relationship.
Your goal is to find out some particular pieces of information from the sales prospect. This will ensure that you can help them, you are talking to the right person, and so that you can tailor future calls around this information. Before the meeting, come up with a list of important questions to ask the client in this first meeting. We will get to some suggestions shortly, but ensure they are ready before the call, not after, as memory is a tricky thing, so you may forget and struggle to get the important information.
While you may have to pitch your sale to them, leading to some monologues on your behalf, you are asking questions, and you need to listen to the answers. In addition to this, the prospect wants to be listened to and valued. If they feel you understand them, can offer solutions, and really pay attention to them as both an individual and representative of their business, then they will be more likely to continue with you.
Top questions to ask clients in first meetings
These questions are not an exhaustive or exclusive list. Some of these questions may feel better left to the discovery call, and others may not fit the conversation. There may be room for additional questions if the conversation warrants it. Generally, these questions intend to get the key information for your future calls and meetings, to make sure you can provide something to this client and tailor your future sales pitches.
1. Are you happy with the meeting agenda I just described? Did you have any suggestions?
2. Can you tell me about some of your current projects?
3. What are the company’s short term and long term goals currently?
4. How are you hoping to improve your company?
5. What do you know about our service?
6. How do you think it could help?
7. What sort of budget is available for our service?
8. Is there anyone else who will be involved in the decision-making process?
9. What could make your life easier at work, in your opinion?
10. I understand that you are most likely choosing from a range of options, could you tell me what other options you are considering? If not, I understand, but what do you think we can offer over others?
Tips to impress a client in the first meeting
Don’t be too eager or pushy
You have a sales process, and will engage in a series of calls. This first call is to establish a relationship and make a good impression. If you try to sell on this call, it is more likely that they will not want to continue talking to you in the future. It is more conducive to simply have an effective conversation, be friendly, explain the service you provide and arrange a further discovery call in the nearest future.
Offer free advice
To show that your company can offer a viable solution, that you are not in it just for the sale (see above) and are trustworthy, you can provide a free solution or advice to a particular problem. This will show that you have their interests at heart and the means to solve their problems.
Wrap up nicely
The conversation should be finished in a way that answers all the questions they asked, and you can summarize all the information that’s gone both ways, to remind everyone what has happened in the call. By wrapping up the loose ends, it leaves a good lasting impression on the client, as this will be the last interaction they remember with you.
Write a follow-up email
You should send an email to the client after the first meeting not too long after the call, to recap the meeting, continue the conversation, and establish the next meeting date.
The email should be friendly and include an effective summary of the meeting. This is where Notiv can help, as Notiv records, transcribes, and automates reports that can be sent to the meeting participants. This will help you in the future by keeping track of client details, and for the client to remember the key information provided.
The follow-up email should also provide a list of options for the next meeting, for example, using polls such as Xoyondo or Needtomeet can send a visual poll for the client to choose from, this streamlines the date selection process and chooses a time and date that everyone is content with.
Here is a good example of a follow-up email
Hello (customer name),
I really appreciate you taking the time out to talk to me today.
We discussed today the pricing structures, what I believe our service can provide you, and we agreed to meet in the future.
Attached is an information pack, and the meeting notes, so you can review at your own leisure.
Regarding the next meeting, I have included a poll here (link) for you to select when is best for you. If none of these work, let me know.
Have a great day
Here you can see it is friendly, the client is being thanked for their time, yet it goes straight to the point. The rep summarizes the meeting briefly, and attaches relevant information for the rep to review. The rep then suggests voting on the next meeting, to ensure everyone can attend, this can then be synced to calendars.
We walked you through certain tips and questions you should be aware of for your next first client meeting. What is important overall in a client meeting, is not to focus on them too much as merely a client, or that you are selling something, but understanding this is a person and making a proper relationship with them. Find out the key information, make sure this information is noted, which is where Notiv can help, and keep communicating with the client via a follow-up email. You can learn more about how recording your meetings can really help you achieve better outcomes.
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