Meeting with prospective (and current) clients is a high value activity that should still be a core objective for decent recruiters. Meeting with clients generates commitment and develops relationships. One area where most recruiters would benefit from imporving is what they do before they arrive at the client’s premises. Good preparation will ensure you are focused on your objectives and can maximize the time out of the office to developing business.
1. What are my objectives for the meeting? How will I measure the success of the meeting? Set clear goals that are commitment centric – be clear on what commitment will look like. Whatever the reason for the meeting (service follow up post placement, job briefing or sales meeting) there is always an opportunity to discover more about the client and their business and gain more commitment. Ask yourself – How much commitment do I have from this client today? How much would I like in the future? How can I facilitate that during this meeting? Once you have some objectives your meeting will have more direction. Too many recruiters have a nice meeting over coffee that builds rapport yet fail to capitalise upon this with any further commitment.
2. Who am I meeting? What do I know about the person I am meeting? Background, role, responsibility and their expectations of the meeting? Some research about the client and their business beforehand will help create good questions and show your interest in them and their business.
3. Who else works at the business that is worth meeting? Book it now! If you are going to travel to meet one contact in one business this is a missed opportunity. Seeing three, four or even five people separately in the same business will accelerate your ability to develop the account further.
4. Which other business near by are worth going to see? Who else in your sector is near that is worth meeting? Who are the nearby PSL users, current contract recruiters, leads and targets you would like to meet. The “van in the area” close can often make it easier for a prospect to say yes. Already at that point, commitment is increasing…
5. Take the right stuff – What do you need with you to demonstrate your capability? Do you advertise on job boards? Then take the stats for the boards that you use; Unique visitors, busiest days, example adverts you have written that worked well, examples of mistakes. Consult using your recruiting skills as well as your industry knowledge. Other things to consider taking – testimonials, relevant CVs of individuals you are working with, terms of business, SLAs, recent campaigns, salary surveys and, of course, pen and paper.
6. Set an agenda. Consider typing it so that all those involved in the meeting can review it. An agenda keeps you on track and helps create control of the meeting. Even if you don’t type it make sure you begin the meeting by verbalizing one.
7. Plan your journey, incorporating delay of some sort. Arriving early (10 minutes before) is good business etiquette. If you are earlier then scout out the other businesses in the area or grab a coffee and get in the right frame of mind for the meeting. Being late sends unintended messages of unprofessionalism to the client and puts you under pressure to get more done is less time. You would expect your candidate to turn up on time for an interview wouldn’t you?
8. Dress appropriately. Dressing to impress is not the message. Be comfortable with what you are wearing and let your personality and credibility win the business. Not your aftershave or perfume. Flashy watches, handbags and designer clothing rarely win business in the UK (other cultures will expect these to be a sign of success). Be presentable. Enough said.
9. Take more copies of your core documents that you need. If you are meeting a client to go through a shortlist or discuss available contractors take an additional set so you have three copies – one for you, one for the client and a set for the surprise delegate invited to the meeting. If you have to surrender your set to someone else you start to lose control of the meeting.
10. Relax. Good planning and preparation will give you more opportunity to be you. Empathy is key to understanding so be interested in the other person. Listening and understanding will help you win business much more that pitching and presenting. Ask good questions, be genuine and perhaps even dare to smile.