Written by: Julia Zinsmeister, Account Supervisor for the UO Business School Academic Centers team
Meeting with clients can be difficult. Not only must you work with each other’s hectic schedules (first tip: your client is just as busy as you are!), but you often only have a set time block to go over your team’s goals and priorities. As difficult as client meetings can be, they are extremely important to the success of the account. In a world full of emails, texting, and video chatting, nothing compares to sitting down with your client to discuss his or her goals and expectations.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Taking the time to fully prepare prior to the meeting will be a lifesaver. First, create an agenda, which can be as simple as a list of talking points in order of importance to be sure the most necessary items get discussed first. If possible, send the agenda to your client ahead of time. Keep in mind, there is no reason a client meeting should end without discussing all talking points. Second, research your client’s performance since the last meeting. Have they been featured in the media lately? Any change in business? Know the ins and outs of your client so that you will not be surprised if new challenges come up.
- Look and act professionally, no matter what.
Even if you have a long-time, friendly, productive client relationship, it is important to maintain your professionalism for each client meeting. Gauge your attire on the dynamic of your client. When working in the political sector, you will most likely be better off in business attire. When working with an edgy technology startup, you can probably tone it down. Pro tip: When in doubt, dress business casual.
- If possible, avoid hosting client meetings in your own office.
Being in your own office can cause unnecessary distractions – your phone rings, you receive an email notification, someone drops by for a visit, etc. What would you do if another client showed up at your door wanting to talk? When putting yourself in your client’s space, you will often be more attune to the account as a whole. Plus, immersing yourself in your client’s world is usually not a bad idea.
Meetings can be stressful. However, do not be so consumed by your talking points (see tip #1) that you forget to simply listen to what your client is telling you. Instead of focusing on what you are going to say next in response to your client: stop, take a breath and listen. Pro tip: Keep your list of talking points in front of you for easy reference.
- Always end your meeting by discussing your client’s goals moving forward, and develop a concrete list of “next steps.” It’s important to always be clear on what your client is expecting from you and what you should expect from your client. Of course, you can always clarify these goals via email, but they should be the last talking point of any meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Keep in mind that client meetings are the most helpful and direct form of contact. They are a way of getting all priorities out on the table and ensuring that all goals are being met or exceeded. It’s easy to get trapped in the stigma of scary client meetings, but keep to these helpful tips and you should be smooth sailing.
Julia Zinsmeister is the Account Supervisor on the UO Business School Academic Centers account. She is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in German. Upon graduation, she hopes to find a job working in international media and communications. Outside of school and work she enjoys drinking coffee and playing really old guitars. Connect with her via Twitter.
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Account Executive: Caitlin Monohan
Account Executive: Alletta Simons
Account Executive: Lea Adamovic
Account Executive: Melissa Thibido