Picture the following scenario:
A hot new prospect has enjoyed chatting with you over the phone, and now they want to meet you in person.
You’re one step closer to bringing in profitable business.
You invest a lot of time and effort to present your idea and impress your client, but you feel like the meeting goes in circles and nothing you say is actually heard.
You might be thinking, “I always do my pre-meeting preparation, so what could possibly go wrong?”.
Potentially, everything could go wrong.
There’s a lot riding on that initial meeting. We, as humans, tend to make snap judgements of others based on ingrained personal perceptions, first impressions and superficial observations.
That’s why meeting a client for the first time is like an exam, either you pass or fail.
From a blatant sales pitch to a lacklustre presentation to an inappropriate meeting space, there are many factors influencing your clients’ first impressions.
Check out these 6 mistakes some business owners make when meeting new clients.
If you recognise yourself doing any of the following, take action to fix them so you can have the highest chance to wrap the deal up.
Table of contents:
- Talking too much
- Meeting your client at a cafe or your home office
- Breaking basic business etiquette rules
- Using negative body language
- Knocking the competition
- Taking a “show up and throw up” approach
1. Talking Too Much
As the old saying goes, “You have two ears and one mouth and it’s best to use them in that proportion”.
Everyone knows that talking too much during a meeting is a surefire way to lose a sale, but why is it so difficult for many business owners to deal with more than a few seconds of silence?
One of the basic sales skills you need to master is to control the meeting with active listening and appropriate questions.
So let your client do the talking for as long as they wish. After all, they are the star of the show. Not you, your business or your products.
Your time to speak will most certainly come. Until then, focus on the client and show interest in what they have to say.
According to an article published by Entrepreneur, the average salesperson talks over 81% of the time in a selling situation.
Learn to embrace silence, and you’ll stop sounding like the typical fast-talking, pushy salesperson. Listening actively can do wonders for establishing client trust and retention.
2. Meeting Your Client at a Cafe or Your Home Office
I have previously written a post where I explain why home office meetings with clients are killing your business.
No matter how convenient it is for you to work from home, nothing says unprofessional quite like a cramped home office, especially when potential distractions like kids and pets can make the client feel awkward.
Not to mention that holding meetings at your home is also unsafe, especially if you deal with an angry customer.
The same goes for coffee shops, cafes, and other accessible-yet-unpredictable public spaces where the risks of slow Internet connection or noisy, unruly crowds of people are just too high.
Even if you’re operating from home, all of your meetings should be held in a fully equipped, professional environment that makes your business appear legitimate and well-established.
If you cannot afford to spend boatloads of cash to rent a traditional office, it’s best to opt for virtual office space that comes with great amenities at a fraction of the cost.
Premium virtual office providers like B2B HQ offer flexible, on-demand meeting rooms and boardrooms with all the office services you need to make a great first impression with new clients and close more deals.
For more info, check out our meeting room hire options.
3. Breaking Basic Business Etiquette Rules
Business etiquette isn’t complicated. Few business owners, however, focus on learning about the business etiquette rules that are essential to creating a mutually respectful atmosphere and streamlining communication.
Here are the most common business etiquette mistakes that might play a key role in the client’s decision to have any further relationship with you:
- Forgetting to offer a beverage when clients enter your office
- Loading clients down with loose papers without offering an envelope
- Leaving clients to find the exit on their own after the meeting
- Failing to send thank you notes
- Not introducing yourself with your full name
- Being overly thankful and saying “thank you” too often in a single conversation which can make you come off as needy and unconfident
- Inviting a client out to lunch or dinner and looking for contributions when the bill comes
- Starting conversations about politics, religion, or the cost of living
- Giving a weak, “limp fish” handshake or a crushing, dominant handshake
- Sitting when being introduced to someone
4. Using Negative Body Language
They say that body language represents more than 50% of communication.
In fact, body language sets the foundation for you and your clients to communicate on a deeper level.
Ask yourself, what message do you send to your clients when you slouch? When you cross your arms?
Below are the most common examples of negative body language that may impact the way clients perceive you and your business.
If you recognise yourself doing any of the following, make sure you fix them before your next meeting.
- Crossing the arms over the chest: This is considered a defensive posture and shows that you are closed off
- Crossing the legs: Much like crossing the arms, this is considered a defensive posture and may indicate insecurity and a lack of confidence
- Tapping the fingers or feet: This can indicate boredom, anxiety or impatience
- Having a slouched posture: This can be perceived as a lack of confidence and unwillingness
- Avoiding eye contact: This can make your clients believe that you are not open to conversation or that you have something to hide
- Looking at watch or phone: When you are looking at your watch or phone during a conversation, it typically indicates that you are in a hurry for it to be over
- Overusing your hands: If you are moving your hands too much when you speak, it is usually a telltale sign that you are nervous
5. Knocking the Competition
Many business owners and sales reps know that knocking the competition is assessed as a weakness and may even backfire.
However, this is still common practice, especially when challenged with questions like, “What makes you and your brand better than the competition?”.
The problem with knocking your competition is that it gives your clients the impression that your product or service isn’t good enough to stand out, so you have to play rough and tough to position your offering.
Even if your product is truly unique, anything other than genuine respect for your competitors shows you in a bad light and makes you look weaker.
If a client wants to know what makes you better than your competitors, the smart approach is to highlight your strengths rather than make negative comments about your competitors.
For example, if you’re running a SaaS business and come with innovative features and tools, it’s best to highlight your unique features rather than throwing away a remark such as “ABC cannot do that”.
6. Taking a “Show Up and Throw Up” Approach
Human beings are first and foremost emotional creatures, which is why great salespeople focus on cultivating emotional connections with customers, not selling.
Still, many business owners believe that pitching all the features and benefits of their product or service will pique customers’ interest.
Even worse, they throw around words like “top-notch”, “unique”, and “industry-leading” – all while trying to guess what prospects might need.
This approach is known as the “show up and throw up” method of selling, and it’s likely to close the door on that client for your business for years to come.
Imagine what it’s like on the other side: listening to someone who lists out all the features, benefits, and pricing of a product before you even open your mouth.
Instead of taking a brash approach where you focus entirely on the sale, it’s best to focus on the needs of your prospect.
Start by listening to the client’s story. Be sure to dig deeper into their problems and pay very close attention to what’s being said before presenting your value proposition.
This enables your prospects to better understand their pain points, meaning they will be more eager to solve them and hear your story.
Check out our guide to sales closing techniques for more details.
Conclusion: It’s all too easy to slip up when meeting clients for the first time – and this is especially true for first-time business owners.
Hopefully, this post will help you identify mistakes you could be making without even realising it and improve your initial conversations with potential clients.
If you can identify what’s holding you back from creating meaningful connections with clients, then you can adjust your approach accordingly and start closing more deals.
Want to plan and run a successful client meeting? When it comes to impressing clients, using professional office space is hugely important. You need to make the client feel comfortable, offer a cup of coffee or tea and take care of details such as having a good Wi-Fi connection and providing easy access to your premises ahead of time. If you’re running your business from home, B2B HQ provides flexible office space that perfectly suits the unique needs of your business. For more details, visit www.b2bhq.com.au or contact us for further questions.