What’s for lunch?
“The meeting with the client in the office is scheduled for tomorrow between 12noon and 2pm. When I see this what do you guys think goes through my mind?”
This is how I started my last prep call with three executives I have been working with for a couple of months. They finally got this client to come by in person to the office. For the record, this is the 4th and final internal preparation session we have conducted.
We went through the needs assessment, the main pain-points, the personal research about the client. The client already got a technology walk-through, so they are familiar with our product. So far, our interaction with this client has been solely online and hence, this is the first time we will meet in person.
“Parking” goes one of the executives. “We need to make sure they have a parking spot close enough”.
Admittedly, at that moment, what got me is that parking has been brought up as if this is the very first time anyone comes to the office to visit and we need to make sure they have a place to park….for the very first time….
“Well of course. But…hmmmmm, parking. They are in town just for a few days, right? Did they rent a car or are they Ubering? Does anyone know?”
As part of the Emotional Relevance philosophy, I encourage everyone I work with to reach out and ask. While for some reason, many in corporate America take the instinctive approach of “it’s not really common to ask the client”, most time when you do reach out the client will not only give you the answer but also very much appreciate you reaching out. In advanced Emotional Relevance, you learn to take advantage of EVERY touch point with the client in order to further your relationship with them and increase the mutual trust.
“Traffic” The other shouts.
“What about it?” I respond. “Come on, think for a second….”
They all look at me puzzled.
A few weeks ago, a potential client called me and asked my assistance in preparing his team for a pitch that was scheduled for the following week. What do you have in mind I asked him. He gave me the standard rundown about making the PowerPoint look better, having his team present better to the client and rehearse right before. My philosophy within Emotional Relevance™ I explained to him, is not to improve presentation skills the last minute. My belief is to develop, maintain, and constantly improve your relationship with your clients/prospects/partners on an ongoing manner so:
1. The scheduled pitch/presentation is more of a conversation
2. Your client is open with you so when this pitch (now conversation) is scheduled, there are no surprises
3. When you show up to this conversation, your client is genuinely happy to see you
4. There is very little preparation required
If you, a week before your presentation, are concerned with what to present, which topics to highlight, and how your slide look, then your chances of winning the business are OK at best. If you have developed a trusting, open relationship with your client over a period of time, if they know some personal details about you and you about them, then the business is already won before the pitch and this presentation is merely a charade for your client to show you off to their bosses.
"Food to a large extent is what holds a society together, and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences."
Here is another way to look at it. Remember when you were younger, out of college, and went to a job interview? You had to dress the part, follow the non-written rules, print your resume, answer almost scripted questions and well…be interviewed. In this scenario there is an interviewer and an interviewee. The interviewer will be speaking about 25%-30% of the time and you, answering questions will fill in the rest. By definition, this is a one direction mode of communication. The interviewer asks questions and the interviewee answers.
Now let’s look at the scenario 20 years later. You are now experienced at your job. This may be your 4th or 5th organization you are seeking to go work for. The person you are about to meet is not the interviewer but rather the hiring manager. The both of you are around the same age. You actually spoke over the phone for a while before your meeting. You have mutual friends, kids at the same age. You exchanged some memories when you talked and at this point, you both are excited to some degree to see each other.
When you meet, the both of you speak roughly the same amount of time and….it is a conversation. You did not bring your resume simply because you do not have one. And to top it all off, you did not meet at the office but rather met at this cool place for lunch.
THAT’S IT!!! LUNCH!!!
The meeting is scheduled between 12 noon and 2pm. By now, you know the client, they know you. In the last couple of months, you have been communicating with them and have done a great job planting emotional anchors. You opened up with them, shared personal tidbits, laughed a few times and even made fun of each other a couple of times. If you paid attention, if you took notes, you know by now that they mentioned they went to try that new Italian restaurant that just opened down the street.
You see, if you have been doing all that, if focused on them and their needs, by now, the day before the client shows up to your office or a few days before what you call a pitch, all you will need to worry about is…what’s for lunch.