It has been said that you get just one chance to make a first impression. I have found that that holds true even with people you know. Let me explain.
When you have a meeting with an existing client, how the meeting or call starts is critically important. This “first impression” will give your client some insight into how the next 30-60 minutes is going to go and how vested you are in the outcome.
So why, then, do so many people waste that first 5-10 minutes with idle banter? If you really listen to what you are saying from the client’s perspective, you might be shocked to realize the relationship damage, subtle as it may be, that you are doing.
That is why I want you to stop discussing these six things with your clients immediately.
People get on a call, that their client is paying for, and say, “I can’t wait for the weekend” or “Thank God it’s Friday” or “Just a few more hours until my vacation.” What that says to a client is, “I can’t wait to stop doing work for you,” a message not likely to be well received by your client.
If you have many people on a call, all of them in different geographic areas, bringing up the weather can be a real time suck since everyone will want to tell everyone else what the weather is like in their area. And to a client, time really is money and you are spending it pretending to be Al Roker.
“We’ve been really busy with a few projects that have taken up a lot of time.” That forces the client to think, “So…..who was working on our stuff?” Clients want to feel, while knowing it’s not true, that they are your only client.
Clients are paying you to do serious work. Having a good sense of humor is one thing, spending any time telling jokes is a waste of time…their time. And it says that you aren’t taking this call seriously so perhaps you have the same attitude about their business.
“I’ve been out the last few days, sick as a dog.” Clients will, of course, be empathetic but, they’ve got a business to run. You just told them, in their mind, that no work got done in the last few days. If you have to note your absence, be sure to immediately tell them how work got done despite you being out, by whom and the results they achieved.
Reading what you sent
This probably happens more than any of the things on this list. People prepare a status update and then proceed to dictate every point to them. Stop! If you sent an update, assume your client can read it! Don’t ask them if they want you to “walk them through it,” because they will politely say yes and then dread you actually doing it. What they really want is your insight into the issues, concerns, future plans, etc. That’s what they pay you for!
Stop discussing these six areas and it will open up a space in every client encounter for you to begin a meaningful conversation right from the first “Hello.”
In my next post, I’ll provide some tips on how to do exactly that!