Much like snowflakes, no two new business meetings are the same, but there are some things you can be doing to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and maximising your chances of conversion later down the line.
The Future Factory recently spoke to senior figures in the brand world in search of answers to how agencies can best influence the purchasing decisions of brands in meetings. For the sake of symmetry, we’ve packaged up our top tips into four sparkly parcels.
Do your homework
It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail, so one way to ensure you nail your next new business meeting is be a nerd and do your research – it’s what all the cool kids are doing. A director at Bacardi says one of the ways to impress him in a new business meeting is to have “a POV on what the brand is doing” and a well thought out and smart opinion on their industry, challenges and potential needs.
So, show the brand and the person you’re meeting you know what they’re about. This doesn’t mean blindly reciting their own company history back at them, or better yet asking them what it was like to work on the checkout at Waterstones when they were 16. Instead, it’s combining all the insight and research you have gathered in preparation for the meeting and putting it into action to really show them you understand their brand on a fundamental level.
Don’t rely on creds
Leaning too heavily on creds in a meeting can be the equivalent of striding into a job interview with your CV printed out and stapled to the front of your shirt. Creds are your friend, but use and abuse them and they won’t hesitate to betray you and make you look boring; or even worse, strike down the brand with the tragically common and completely treatable: death by PowerPoint.
The key is not to use creds as the focus of the meeting but more as a tool you can whip out in response to challenges, needs and interests the brand might have during your conversation. Make them short, snappy and flexible and you’ll kill it…metaphorically.
Don’t go into pitch-mode
The dating analogy always seems to be rolled out when talking about chemistry/new business meetings, but it’s true. Imagine rocking up to a first date and your romantic prospect has a laminated sheet of bullet points detailing their many achievements, winning personality traits and generally why they are probably the best person you’ll ever meet and don’t you agree? Flash-forward to an hour of them droning endlessly on and you’re in the toilet desperately attempting to escape through a tiny window.
Don’t be that guy.
A senior comms manager at Sonos agrees: “The worst thing to do in a meeting is talk too much about yourself […] it’s a waste of time.”
Instead, spend the meeting asking them questions, and listen to the answers. You don’t want to turn the meeting into an interrogation, but some well-timed and insightful questions are the backbone of a good new business meeting. They provide a good structure and interesting questions more often than not lead to interesting answers.
Most importantly though, be someone they want to work with. At the end of the day, people buy from people, and as the chief marketing officer at RightMove told us, “chemistry is essential, bring your personality!” – so be a personable person with a cracking personality and you’re halfway there.
Before we move onto point numero quatro in our list, there’s another player in the chemistry game we need to discuss, and his name is ‘surprise and delight’. You might already be familiar with this term, and specifically in this context it refers to doing something a little jazzy in the pursuit of forging beautiful and long-lasting new business relationships. Showing the brand some extra effort will make them feel all special and in turn make you memorable.
For example, good surprise: starting the meeting by bringing them a delicious coffee or a novelty pen. Bad surprise: leaping in front of them in line at their favourite coffee shop and throwing a novelty pen at them.
Always get a next step
It’s important to remember that the objective of a meeting isn’t to get a brief straight away, although that may happen from time to time (on the days when you wear your lucky pants). Your focus should be on driving the lead through the sales pipeline and this means you need to come out of the meeting with an actionable next step. It could be a follow up phone call/meeting, a proposed brand audit, an introduction to another member of the team, or a joint trip to the local novelty pen factory – whatever it is, get a date in the old diary before you skip elegantly out the door.
Holly Rutter is an account manager at The Future Factory