Do you still get nervous about client meetings? It happens to the best of us. Every meeting is different, and you can never be entirely sure what the end result will be. But, of course, you would be a little antsy about that, especially if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build your start-up.

While we can’t hold your hand during your next client meeting, this article will provide some helpful tips you can implement for your upcoming client meetings:

Do Your Research

It’s important to research a prospective client before your first meeting with them. This is especially important for business-to-business meetings, where two organizations are looking to work out a deal together. Understanding how the other company works will help you gather and present a much more appealing deal to them.

You might be the representative of your company contacting a wholesaler group about a potential partnership. Learn what you can about this supplier before going into a meeting with them. For example, what are their company values? What do they look for in a partnership? This information will be valuable when formulating your offer.

It goes without saying that your research should in no way be invasive or creepy. Stalking a potential client’s personal Facebook page might come off the wrong way. You shouldn’t know the name of their dog or where they went on vacation in the summer of 2014. Instead, research public knowledge that is relevant to the meeting.

Come Prepared

Preparation is the key to success when turning a potential client into a full-time customer. A lack of preparation will present itself in fumbled sentences, unanswered questions, and a host of “uh’s” and “um’s.” None of these things are compelling when trying to do serious business.

One way to prepare yourself and stay organized is through a pitch deck. A pitch deck is a simple, brief presentation that contains all the necessary information a potential client might need. It will help you run through an introduction, company info and history, and details of your offer. A pitch deck can be brought to meetings or used to practice your pitching skills without any additional materials.

Another way to prepare your pitches is to practice with someone else. A spouse, employee, or business partner can run a mock pitch meeting with you acting as a potential client. Afterward, they can provide feedback on what you did well and what improvements you need to make. Small things such as your posture can be easily overlooked when practicing alone. When brought to life by a practice partner, it will make a much bigger impact on your success.

Pick the Right Venue

Not all venues work for every single client meeting. There are a lot of variables that must be considered. For example, the nature of your industry, the size of the deal, and the geographical distance between you and the person you are meeting will all influence your venue of choice.

For example, let’s say you’re a realtor and you just landed a meeting with a potential professional athlete client. Their budget will be much higher than most others, so dinner at a nice restaurant will most likely be a better setting to recommend than your local Starbucks.

Of course, your top priority should be meeting your potential client where they feel most comfortable. If your professional athlete friend prefers to sit down for donuts at a Krispy Kreme to talk about home options, you should do your best to accommodate that.

Arrive Early

If you’re on time, you’re late. It would be best if you did everything in your power to be at your meeting before your prospective client. This will give your client a good first impression and allow you to greet them as they arrive. You can use the time waiting for them to get the venue situated, look through your notes, and practice your pitch.

Practicing punctuality starts by making sure you have the meeting time in your Calendar correctly. Next, add some reminders that help you get ready to go and out the door promptly. Finally, planning your travel route and preparing for unexpected delays will minimize the time spent getting from point A to point B.

Practice Listening

Salespeople love to talk. It’s a big part of how they make a living, after all. However, by putting on your sales cap, you run the risk of talking your potential client’s ear off regarding the value of your products or services. While you certainly need to be eloquent, many deals will be closed due to active listening rather than smooth-talking.

Start practicing listening skills in your everyday life. Do this not only in preparation for your upcoming client meeting, but for all of your future interactions. For example, pay attention to when you interrupt someone else or if you find yourself waiting to interject rather than process what the other person is saying. With enough introspection and daily practice, your soft skills can be put to the test on real clients in important meetings.

Keep the Meeting Concise

Just as you probably don’t enjoy sitting in work meetings for very long, your potential client won’t want to spend too much time in a meeting with you. This is nothing against you as an individual or a business person; rest assured. However, patience and focus simply run thin over time. Even though a meeting might have started tremendously, the initial enthusiasm can quickly fade if you keep drawing the meeting out.

Coming to the meeting prepared, as mentioned previously, will help you get to the point and hold an efficient interaction. You should also be aware of time constraints. If you have 30 minutes blocked off for a meeting, try to pace yourself accordingly, so you don’t get lost on tangents. Ending a meeting when you should also show respect for your client’s time; a great way to conclude.

We wish you the best of luck at your next client meeting. Soon enough, you’ll be a pro, ready to give others the advice that you need to become a superstar.

Image Credit: ekaterina bolovtsova; pexels; thank you!