Meetings are a foundational tool for wooing your prospects and clients. A key to developing great relationships with your prospects and clients is doing the heavy lifting. This means making things as hassle-free as possible for your clients. You ensure that everything is convenient for them, and this includes meetings. When it comes to in-person meetings, going to them, rather than making them come to you, lets clients know that you value your relationship with them and are willing to work for it.
Of course, you’ll likely have several – or many – clients and prospects that you’ll be managing, so you’ll need to organize your time efficiently to give each relationship the time it deserves. When you have several in-person meetings with your clients in one day, you might find yourself running from one office building to the next to make your appointments. How do you make these multi-meeting days successful? Preparation, of course!
Mapping Your Route
If you’re planning a day of meetings with external clients, you should think about where those meetings will take place. Will you be visiting their offices, will you meet offsite? Regardless of whether it’s in their office, you will likely want to meet them near their company to minimize the hassle for your prospect or client. Where your prospects and clients work will depend on your field, product, and location.
For those of you who make onsite visits to your clients in a compact region, multi-meeting days require extra planning. A great way to make your day as efficient as possible is to schedule meetings on the same day that will be held near to one another. If you have multiple clients in one city, try to schedule meetings with those people on the same day. If you’re really good, you can schedule meetings to work across a city, instead of going back and forth between downtown and the fashion district.
Part of strategizing is planning your mode of transport. Are you going to drive to each meeting? Make sure you account for traffic, parking (including time and fees), and fill up the tank the night before. Public transportation will save you in parking time and fees, but you have to plan around the bus/train schedules and account for delays. Buses will also face traffic; trains will to a lesser extent. It might be a good idea to walk between appointments if possible to get your blood flowing and minimize external threats to punctuality. You don’t want to keep your clients waiting!
Staying on Schedule
When you have several meetings in one day, it is imperative that you stay on time! If one meeting runs late, then the next one begins late and will likely end late. You’ll have a domino-effect of lateness which is frustrating for you and your clients. You never want to keep a client or prospect waiting. This likely will increase your stress and frustration, and thereby harm your performance.
A good rule for multi-meeting days is having a hard stop for every meeting. Discuss with your client or prospect in the communication leading up to the meeting the start and end times for the appointment. Your clients have work waiting for them, and they will appreciate your mindfulness. At the beginning of the meeting, remind everyone present there is a hard stop at a specific time. Then stick to it! Start winding down the conversation ten to twenty minutes before the end of the meeting so that it won’t feel abrupt when you have to leave. You don’t want to be rude to those at the meeting nor disrespectful to the next appointment.
The best way to prevent meetings from taking too long is to enter them with a clear agenda. Know what you want to share with your client or prospect, but also include in the agenda time for the client to bring up their own questions and concerns. Success in sales requires active listening and understanding the customer’s needs and wants. Plan a few minutes of pleasantries and small talk at the beginning of the meeting to further develop a personal connection and establish common ground. Having an agenda and a key objective for the meeting will help everyone stay on track.
Even with an agenda, however, the conversation might veer off topic or the client may bring up a concern that would take much more time than available to hash out. Have your calendar handy so that you can schedule another meeting to discuss their concerns. Let the client know that you want to give their concerns sufficient time to fully address them and suggest a follow-up meeting. Everyone wins!
Another key to having a smooth day is to be organized. Have a clear plan for your day – where are you going and when? Make sure to consider the issues above. Having an itinerary will help you stay on track.
Take the time to prepare your work bag the day before so that you have all the necessary materials on your multi-meeting day. I suggest putting them into color-coded folders to ensure that you always pull out the relevant information. Having a different color for each of the day’s clients will also help signal that the client in front of you is your only concern at that moment. Showing them other clients’ paperwork will make you appear unfocused and disorganized. Never underestimate the power of the rainbow.
Long days of running to and from meetings can make you feel like there’s no time for anything else – especially not something as frivolous as food! Don’t fall into this trap. You need fuel to stay focused, energized, and confident during your day. Make sure you schedule in meals and snacks!
If you’re trying to squeeze as many meetings into a day as possible, try scheduling a meeting over lunch. Take the prospect or client out to a restaurant so you can talk over a delicious meal. This way you’ll take the necessary act of eating and turn into an opportunity to build your relationship with a client. Getting to know your customer better and learning about their values and passions goes a long way to a life-long connection. Win-win!
If you can’t take a client out for a meal, perhaps you can bring snacks to a meeting. Again, this way you can maximize your productivity and give your client a treat.
Of course, time between appointments can be spent grabbing a bite to eat, but don’t underestimate the power of food to build a strong relationship with your clients and prospects.
Of course, many things are outside of your control. Mapping the best route for your day only works if your clients and prospects are available at times that are conducive to that plan. Often times, you will have to go from downtown to the fashion district and back to downtown because clients weren’t available at more convenient times. Be flexible! Remember, you want to be obliging to your clients. Bus and train schedules can be similarly restrictive. Again, adjust to the reality. What’s important is that you plan ahead.
With a little gumption and preparation, you’ll be able to minimize the stress of a multi-meeting day. By following these tips, you will also show clients that you are organized, thoughtful, and respectful. Take a page from Scar’s book and be prepared.
Petite2Queen provides virtual mentoring to young women in life, at work, and in sales. Follow us for more practical advice you can put to use to improve your life and career.
Rachel Whitbeck is the Director of Content at Petite2Queen. She is working towards her PhD in Sociology at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Rachel uses her experience in writing, editing, and research to develop content that appeals to and is reflective of the diverse millennial woman.