Perhaps the most important component of any business consulting career is the ability to engage the client and demonstrate past successes.
Of course, in order to secure an opportunity to do so, you have to reach that crucial second stage: the initial meeting. While the phone call or brief introduction that took place in the first phase may be considered smooth sailing by some, meeting face-to-face is a different experience, indeed.
However, presenting yourself as an expert in the field is a crucial part of closing a deal and welcoming a new client.
There’s No Time Like Prep Time
No question, there is groundwork involved in the first meeting. If you arrive at the appointment unprepared, you risk losing all credibility and the client may opt to pursue a working relationship with someone else.
Allow yourself sufficient time to gather the necessary materials, such as pens, notepads, a calculator, and business cards.
Remember, networking opportunities exist everywhere; following a successful close, you may choose to offer a few business cards to your newest client in the hopes that he or she will recommend your services to others. In addition, a professionally designed portfolio can prove to be a valuable investment and indispensable tool when it comes to showcasing your previous successes.
Dressed for Success
Your supplies can’t pull you through the meeting, so be sure to dress the part. Purchase a few business suits that can be mixed-and-matched, to help you save money and constantly present yourself in a new light.
Imagine how you would feel if you hired a professional and they showed up for an important appointment dressed in casual clothes. Even if they wrote with a gold-plated pen and carried an Armani briefcase, your first impression would remain the same.
Professionalism is a total package that ranges from clothing to accessories to materials, so in addition to a great wardrobe, it is also wise to invest in quality business cards.
The Leader-Follower Balance
While you will be responsible for leading the meeting, let the client do most of the talking. Of course, feel free to gently and subtly bring their speech to a close if the clock starts ticking, but otherwise, allow them to speak their mind.
The client is an invaluable source of information about the business and may be able to provide some insight as to where the venture went wrong. Once he or she has provided you with a background of the company and a few details about its former and current paths, build on that information by asking questions.
Although a “take charge” attitude is a vital component of a flourishing business consulting career, making the client feel valued and indispensable is equally as important.