5 Stages of Successful Meetings for Consultants

Successful-Consulting-Meetings

Do you want to make the most of your time and gain the best result from every meeting you have with a prospective client?

You don’t want to make your initial questions too specific. Let the buyer talk so you can learn more about the real problems they are having.

I’ve always found it helpful to follow a simple framework for meetings. Let me share it with you:

Stage 1 – Get the conversation going, also known as “small-talk” – keep it relevant and to a topic that you know your buyer enjoys or has an interest in. Don’t talk about yourself, ask some questions about them.

Stage 2 – Ask an opening question that focuses on the reason you’re there. For example, if the buyer is looking to increase sales, you might get things going by asking “So Tony, when we talked last, you mentioned that you want to increase your sales by 10% this quarter, tell me more about that…?”

You don’t want to make your initial questions too specific. Let the buyer talk so you can learn more about the real problems they are having.

Stage 3 – Dig deeper into the issues the buyer has raised. Ask additional clarifying questions. You may start to share your own input here, however, this is the stage you want to begin asking several WHY questions to get to the root of the issue. For a list of questions you can ask, see Best Questions to Ask Your Consulting Clients.

Stage 4 – At this stage, the problem should be clear to you and you should already have ideas in your mind as to what could be done to bring the result the buyer wants. Don’t speak too soon though. Instead, ask them what fixing this problem would mean to them? How much would the solution mean to them (financially, emotionally and personally)? This will give you clarity around how much value you’ll create.

Stage 5 – Make your initial suggestion of what you see being the problem and whether not you can help them. If you can, outline briefly what that would look like and the result they will see. Then suggest next steps, whether another meeting is needed or to send a proposal. Always schedule and agree to the next steps and the date and time.

Keep these five stages in mind when you go into your next meeting. You’ll find they’ll help you keep the meeting focused and on course.

If you’re looking for additional tools to help you manage client projects to give you more confidence and a clear process to follow for best results, see the Management Consulting Blueprint.