Whether it is your first meeting with a person or a current meeting with someone you already are familiar with, the first few minutes are more than critical to the outcome, they essentially are the outcome. Harvard tells us that the first 30 seconds of a meeting are critical. I agree, with the added note that the first four seconds of any influential encounter are the most important.
With this in mind you can make some significant preparatory efforts so your message is received with the greatest likelihood to draw a “yes!” response.
1. Dress about 10 percent better than you expect your client/customer to be dressed. Do not overdress or underdress. Both of these choices are considered disrespectful by clients.
2. People feel most comfortable when others seem to be like them in appearance, beliefs, or values. Predict the values and beliefs of your clients and customers and emulate or at least be aware of these factors so that you are prepared to make your best first impression.
3. You should be immaculate when you meet your client/customer. This means you should smell clean (not heavily cologned, as many men and women use far too much of the smelly stuff), have your hair trim and neat, and physically appear as good as you possibly can.
4. Find out what values are most important to a person in doing business with you and determine those values that are relevant to your product/service. “What is most important to you in possibly doing business with me?”
5. Ask your client how he knows when he has his values met. If he tells you fast service is his highest value, ask him, “How do you determine what fast service is?”
6. Ask your client: If you give him his highest value (fast service in this instance), will he work with you? If not, then what really is his highest value? (He’s holding back and you have not yet developed
a trusting rapport.)
7. Be certain that you know what your client needs your product/ service to do. Needs and values are often different from each other, and we aren’t interested in what your service could do for your customer but what it must do for your customer to be loyal to you. “If you had to pick one thing that our service/product must do for you, what would it be?”
8. Be certain to note the client’s speaking and listening pace (they are generally identical) and match them as closely as possible. Do not speak so fast that your client fails to process what you are saying
(if your client speaks slowly), and do not speak slowly if your client processes rapidly (clue: your client speaks rapidly) as you will bore him.
9. If you are nervous about your meeting for whatever reason, then your client probably is as well. Take advantage of the brain’s organization and keep your client to your right if possible when shaking hands, sitting, and communicating. This accesses more of the left brain for both you and your client and allows you both to relax and perform more analytically.
10. When meeting with women (regardless of whether you are male or female) you should try to keep your eye level below that of your counterpart. Research reveals that almost all women are more comfortable and less intimidated when their eye level is higher than those around them.
11. When clients are particularly emotional do not exceed their level of emotion as you model their behavior. Do allow yourself to be somewhat upset / concerned by the cause of their anger. “The city is making you pay an extra $20,000 for your license this year?
What is that about?!”
12. Be familiar with the terminology of the business/profession of your clients. Research reveals that using the exact same buzzwords and corporate lingo your customer does identifies you as an insider and makes your client more likely to say “yes” to you.
13. Show sincere interest and fascination with your client/customer, their interests, pursuits, and business. Nothing is as important in building rapport as an honest and caring interest in the person you are trying to influence.