It was 10 years ago when I walked out of a client meeting embarrassed, angry, and frustrated. I had just met with one of my most important target clients and brought along a colleague. This colleague happened to be our national practice group leader and a partner at the firm for more than 20 years. He was visiting from out of town to meet with some of the West Coast target clients. The result of this one client meeting I set up – we not only turned the client off but never heard back from him again.
Here is where it went wrong. First, we went into the meeting unprepared. I did not do any preliminary research on current news of the client, nor did I prep my colleague. Second, I assumed that my colleague was good in client meetings.
Within the first 5 minutes of the meeting, I heard the dreaded words come out of my colleague’s mouth – “I assume we are meeting today for you to learn more about me and my practice.”
That was the beginning of the end of our meeting. My colleague went on for more than 30 minutes talking about himself and his practice without any pauses for me to cut in to prevent the train wreck. He didn’t bother to ask the client one question, nor did he really seem to care. He just droned on at a painfully slow pace. I saw my client glaze over within the first 10 minutes and that is when I knew the conversation was “over.”
Recalling this story prompts me to share the top ways to ruin a client meeting. Here you go.
Conducting the “perfect” client conversation is never easy. There are several things to consider to make sure it goes well. Understanding some of the classic meeting saboteurs listed above can put you in a much better position to execute a successful client meeting. If I had paid more attention to some of them ten years ago when I brought my colleague to such an important client meeting, we would have had a much different outcome that day.