As businesses move forward, in the second decade of the 21st century, seeking to grow and expand client relationships, while retaining the loyal client base which has been established; meetings remain the best source of communication. For stronger interaction, connectivity, trust building, and authenticity meetings are critical.

Meetings are Productive and Build Relationships

In this era of virtual conferencing, research by the Harvard Business Review has shown that in-person meetings have emerged as more relevant than in previous years, as the most productive means of building trustworthy, long lasting business relationships. This also culminated with obtaining signatures on contracts and closing sales.

The drive for growth and busy schedules makes face-to-face meetings hard to schedule, and the competition for any CEO’s time, hard to obtain. Thus one must think of these meetings as an exemplary opportunity to make a good impression.

Preparation Bolsters Success

The following initiatives will result in thoughtful planning, preparation, and the readiness to engage clients with confidence, and knowledge of their pain points, issues, objectives, and specific goals.

1. Perform the Research Relevant for Each Client

In this age of “information”, a knowledge of the person, or persons, who will attend the meeting is easily attainable through LinkedIn profiles and other social media accounts, as well as, their website. Anticipate any questions which they might ask, and prepare concise responses that will enlighten them, and showcase your skill set. Offer examples, case studies of your services, and other relevant facts, and analytics, which will further substantiate the solutions, or information you have customized specifically for them, to have a data-driven meeting, worthy of everyone’s time.

2. Create a Specific Agenda, With Goals Defined

Deciding the overarching intention of the meeting, and crafting an outline of what needs to be accomplished is prudent. Acquiring client input before this meeting, allows for mutuality of purpose, and shows your attention to relevant details, specifically defined for them. Staying focused on your agenda keeps the meeting efficient. Make a list of main points to address and actionable steps help to create a roadmap that can align with their expected ROI. Take the time to record pertinent questions and comments which require follow up, answers or future information gathering.

3. Have a PLAN B – Be Adaptable to Changes

Any time you plan, no matter how detailed, and well designed, the client may have another view or motivation for changes to the agenda, having had an issue or undisclosed objective in mind. If this unexpected dialogue elicits questions which require more thought and preparation, ask questions that give you clarity, and then request, if necessary, the time to prepare a detailed solution or resolution. It is best to listen closely, and respond appropriately, after giving thought to unanticipated issues.

4. Be Punctual – Plan Your Timely Arrival

When a specific time has been set aside, and agreed to, it is a promise that you will be at the destination, specifically at that time. To be punctual is to give your word and keep it. Timeliness shows a degree of dependability that is necessary in all professional situations. Self-mastery is impressive, builds confidence, and will not put you in a position of harm from speeding, tailgating, or weaving from lane to lane. Plan your arrival, get a familiar with the route, weather, traffic flow, parking locations, detours, and allow for accidents or having to take alternate routes. As an “on-time” assurance, have a Plan B: be early, drive safely, and be well insured.  When you rush, you make mistakes. Make sure to have robust auto insurance, such as Freeway car insurance, so that if you experience mechanical issue in route, you have a trusted road companion who has your back.

5. Critical Follow Up Activities

Research has demonstrated that meetings have a potential close rate of approximately 40%. Of course, as in life, with all things, there is no guarantee that a great close will happen after a first meeting. That said, part of any detailed preparation plan, is the execution of a coordinated follow up agenda. This may entail a quick, “thank you for your time, input and consideration of your services” Recap e-mail, offering an overview or summary of what transpired. It should be sent timely, no later than 24 hours after the meeting, showing your appreciation of their time.

All of your pro-active planning efforts, information gathering, people skills, punctuality, and flexibility to engage, and tweak anything, and everything, should lead to success, growth, and a productive future with a plethora of clients, signing contracts, and building long, prosperous relationships.