Preparing for Client Meetings and ‘The Pitch’

In business, sooner or later you will be faced with presenting a pitch. Preparing for the pitch

For some people, that isn’t a problem. But for many, they would rather poke their eyes out with a red hot poker than face a potential new client.

As soon as the date is arranged they go into panic mode – hundreds of ‘what ifs’ pour into their head followed by sleepless nights and the inability to eat without feeling nauseous.

So what can be done to help you prepare for the pitch?

Preparation is the key

If you were hoping for a magic formula or a pill to take your anxiety away, then I’m going to disappoint you.

The only way to be confident is to prepare.

1. The phone call

During the phone call with the potential client, try and find out as much detail as possible about what they’re looking for. As a copywriter, I would ask what the project was, who was their target audience, what will the review process be, what format would it take etc.

But don’t just ask questions about the project, also ask:

•    Who will be at the meeting?
•    Where will it be held?
•    Is there any car parking at the site?
•    Are they meeting with any other copywriters (it’s always good to know if you’re up against any competition)?

Basically, at the end of that call you want to know as much information as possible about the project and the client.

2. A day or two before the meeting

Next is the research.

Take a look at their website. What sort of marketing are they doing? What is the style of their communication?

See what information you can find out about the people you’ll be meeting – not in a creepy stalker kind of way, but take a look at their previous experience.

Work out what you want to ask them – a great way to start your meeting is by asking an open question to get them talking. This will not only unearth a wealth of information for you, it will also give you chance to catch your breath and ease yourself into the meeting.

3. Before you set off

Check to make sure you either know where you’re going, or that your SatNav is charged up and working.

Have the name and phone number of the person you’re meeting in your phone so, should you get held up, you can ring and let them know.

Leave yourself plenty of time so you arrive calm and collected and make sure you have pens, paper etc.

Most importantly, before you leave, tell yourself you are the right person for this project. You are the writer they need.

4. The meeting

Once you’ve arrived (suited and booted), be calm, polite and confident.

Offer a firm handshake (but not one that will leave them with a crushed feeling), make small talk and then get to down to your first open question and let them tell you everything you need to know to show them you’re the right person for them.

5. Close

Often, you’ll meet with someone who is unable to make a decision there and then because it has to go to the board.

But if that’s not the case, close the sale there and then. If you leave them pondering you could be walking away from the money.

Once they say yes and agree to your payment terms, tell them exactly how you will proceed and what they can except to happen – and make sure you stick to it.

6. Yippee!

Congratulations – you got the contract and kept your nerves at bay.

Reflect on how you presented yourself and your business and remember the success for future meetings.

Finally, grab yourself a large glass of champagne – you deserve it.

Client meetings and pitches don’t have to be scary. A few nerves are good for you, but not to the point your stomach is in knots. Preparation is the key – granted, you can’t win them all, but being ready for anything will help your confidence grow.

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