Some common sense in the buyer’s office for a first meeting:
• Don’t sit anywhere until you’re invited to do so and the buyer indicates where.
• Shake hands firmly, not bone-crunching, but not limp, with a man or a woman.
• Don’t look like a pack animal. Take a notebook, but leave all else with the receptionist, secretary, in your car, or in the garbage. Don’t record and don’t use a lap top. The actual best option is a pad and pen, and have your calendar with you for future appointments.
• Observe the time limits. Try to find a clock you can see easily, or the buyer’s watch, or your iPhone clock, without having to look at your own watch. About 10 minutes before the meeting is to end, summarize where you are and suggest the next date, time, and action.
• Never take a call, look at email, or leave your phone on so that it rings or vibrates.
• Decline the offer of coffee or refreshments. You don’t need them and there is more downside than upside maneuvering drinks.
• Do not audition or think you’re Mickey Rooney and put on a show right there. You don’t need any technology. A hand-drawn visual on your pad or a board in the office, as if you’ve just thought of it, does wonders.
• Look around the office to get a feel for the buyer. Is it spartan or lavish? Are things orderly or chaotic? Is it personal or institutional?
• Look the buyer in the eye. Smile a lot. Never cut off the other person. (Count to “two” slowly before beginning a sentence to ensure the buyer has finished speaking.)
• Act like a peer not a sycophant. Thank the buyer for a good meeting, but not his or her time.
• Remember you’re there to provide value, not to “sell.” Look for opportunities to provide value by “staying in the moment” and talking about how the buyer and organization can improve, not about your methodology or technology.
© Alan Weiss 2013