Following my part in the Designers Breakfast meeting last Thursday, here’s a summary of the content.
I kicked off the session with 5 top tips about how to create chemistry and demonstrate creativity and vision in a first meeting with a prospect (most of the tips are relevant to any client meeting, and frankly, I believe you should treat all client meetings as though they were a first one)
- Develop insights, opinions and observations through market and competition based research – these insights allow you to express your opinions and more importantly, ask the client or prospect theirs
- Prepare relevant case studies and examples of work based on your research; you can also use this research to prepare a list of questions to ask the prospect/client about their priorities and challenges
- Walk a mile in the client or prospect’s shoes – think why they might want to work with you and also why they may not want to work with you – this allows you to pre-empt potential objections and therefore deal with them in the meeting
- Structure the meeting by signposting how long it’s going to take, what it’s going to look like and where it’s heading (ie. let them know at the beginning of the meeting that a desired outcome could be a follow up meeting)
- Do NOT take a PowerPoint presentation – the key objective of a first meeting is to get a second one where you can present ideas of how you can help them with their current priorities and challenges. The first meeting is about creating empathy and trust, identifying and highlighting those main areas of concern and showing relevant examples of work that have resonance with the two way conversation you have created.
Joe Ferry, SVP Global Guest Experience & Design at InterContinental Hotels Group made some very interesting additional observations to my process driven tips; namely that every client is different and should therefore be treated/dealt with differently and appropriately. Joe’s point was that people buy people who they can trust to deliver the work on time and to budget and that not all designers have fully developed their EQ.
This point was also highlighted by Tom Foulkes, Global Head of Marketing at Buro Happold, who very succinctly pointed out that some clients like smoke blown up their arse and that others don’t!
Other key observations from Joe and Tom included:
- Pay attention to detail – get the company name right for example (basic stuff but you’d be surprised……)
- Talk through your experiences outside the direct market sector that your prospect/client works in (they often like you to have a real breadth of knowledge as well as in-depth knowledge of their market)
- Tell the truth, but don’t go too far off brief
- Make your client look good by listening to the brief but challenging where you genuinely think there could be a better way
- Show them what you can do outside of your day job; in other words, show them some creative work that you’ve just come up with in down time or for a brand you’re not currently working with – show them your passion for design
- Don’t pretend to be bigger than you are, remember that people buy people and most clients don’t care if you’re 3 or 300 staff as long as they trust you to get the job done
There were loads of other interesting insights from Joe and Tom and you will be able to see/hear this session online in the Autumn – I’ll post the link.
Do you have any other do’s and don’ts?