In business, as in other areas of life, first impressions can be a deal maker…or a deal breaker.
However, you don’t have to have an extravagant budget or swish corporate headquarters to make a winning impression on business clients and associates.
A bit of careful preparation, tried and tested interpersonal techniques and a confident appearance can go a long way in clinching a deal.
Know the client
Having in-depth knowledge of your client is the first step to success.
Before you meet, make sure you know the person’s job description and are familiar with their company. What are the company’s key business goals and interests? What’s the scope of its operations? Has it recently closed any major deals or undergone specific changes?
If you’re clearly familiar with the client’s concerns and interests, you’ll make a better impression – and it will be easier to explain the relevance of your business offering to the client.
When relevant and possible, also find out a bit about your client’s personal interests. For example, ask a PA or company secretary whether your client has a family. If you already know a client has a particular hobby or favourite sport, brush up on the subject yourself. Finding and talking about things you have in common is the easiest way to build rapport.
Choose a professional venue
If your business is a SME or a startup, you probably don’t have lavish, well-appointed business premises quite yet.
An affordable and flexible solution is to work from a fully serviced office at The Workspace. Alternatively, use our industry-leading coworking facilities.
Either way, you’ll have access to professionally appointed meeting rooms and boardrooms with video conferencing capabilities, as well as a range of on-site business services (including a full reception service). Our branches are located in key business areas across Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
That means you can make an excellent impression on clients and business partners, without having to splash out on meeting space, facilities and décor.
A firm confident handshake and a ready smile can go a long way in convincing a client that you’re the person for the job. Ensure your appearance is smart and professional, and be friendly and polite at all times.
Make a bit of small talk to break the ice and show you’ve prepared properly in advance. That will relax you both and create a warm atmosphere, conducive to reaching a business agreement.
Ditch the digital
Turn off all your digital devices and stash them out of sight. There’s no easier way to kill an opportunity than to have your mobile phone constantly ringing and interrupting proceedings.
Instead give your full attention to your client throughout the meeting. Ask questions, make notes and engage, and you’ll come across as a serious contender who’s up for the task at hand.
Have an agenda
To ensure that your meeting doesn’t veer off track or waste anyone’s time, create an agenda of all the points you want to cover. Refer to it throughout the meeting, and tick off the points as you go along. This will also help show that you’ve prepared properly and know what you’re about.
Wrap up with an action statement
Wrap up the meeting by summarising the action steps you and your client have agreed to take to get the agreement off the table and into the practical realm.
Be clear on who has to do what, and you’ll get the deal signed, sealed and delivered.