Upon starting a new job, we are often very excited. We strive hard to do our best from Day One.
We try to impress our bosses and our colleagues by speaking and acting in just the right way. We demonstrate our drive to deliver value and meaning, starting from the beginning.
But what happens when it’s time for you to go to your first meeting with a client or prospect?
That’s a lot of pressure. A lot of weight suddenly on your shoulders. You may feel very eager to prove to yourself and to your managers that they smartly hired you, for a good reason. Your first client or prospect meeting is a perfect first chance to really show-off your value. And… as some say… “No points for coming in second place!”… and “No second chances at a first impression.”
Even if you are a very experienced salesperson with years of meetings under your belt, the first time with a new client or prospect still constitutes a FIRST TIME – and so it can be a mixture of emotions.
My favorite analogy: as a gentleman, even if you’ve dated many women in your life, the first time that you go out with a new lady whom you like, you likely experience a strange and bizarre feeling – in which a great many emotions emerge at once, including fear and nervousness… felt in your heart, and potentially even affecting your behavior. You may feel a little bit “on edge.” Ladies or gentlemen reading this, try to remember what it felt like the very first time you went on a date with someone who really captured your attention?
I very clearly remember my first date (how young I was!) – who doesn’t remember?! The thoughts in my head (and flowing throughout my body were): “What should I wear? What should I say?” (I even prepared a speech in front of a mirror.) “Where shall I take her? What are good topics of conversation? What should I not say?” All of these questions – and the desire to do it ‘right’ – were gripping me, felt in both my mind and body.
On my first date, my only real objective was to “do things right” in order to arrive at my ultimate goal: to experience reciprocal appreciation and secure a second date!
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Although much difference in context, the same ultimate goal is true when we first meet a promising new business prospect and we want to secure reciprocal interest and respect – interest and respect that results in a second meeting!
In both dating and business prospecting (or client service), a second meeting is typically a strong indicator – and a better indicator than no second meeting – that things are “moving in the right direction.”
Ask yourself this: What steps, directly within your control, can you take to help ensure the success of a first meeting (be it a date or a prospect meeting – since these two very different events share so much common ground ;-)? At its simplest, the prescription for a positive first meeting involves a few controllable aspects:
(1) Dressing the part – show up in a manner that demonstrates your confidence, personality, and capability;
(2) Be openly expressive and candid;
(3) Listen extremely closely to what is being said – and with a business prospect, you very well may wish to take notes; in some cultures, taking notes is considered a visual cue that you are committed to paying extremely close attention (and to remembering what is being said) and also that you care deeply about what the person is saying (taking notes is more recommended in business meetings than on a date 😉
(4) Make the person you are meeting with not only feel important—but truly be important during the whole time you are together; really pour forth your respect for this person, your undivided attention, and your curiosity about who they are and what makes them ‘tick’—independent of any business or personal interest you have in them. Take real steps to get to know them; and
(5) Perhaps most importantly – Have fun (Actually, also be fun! Be you!)… and sincerely enjoy the meeting and the presence of the other person!
You often know you are successful in showing up to a first meeting in ways that honor such a “prescription” if you walk away at the end of the meeting feeling awesome, delighted, and excited – in a manner that is not always easily described in words.