It can be daunting to enter a formal business situation that requires you to pitch yourself to a potential buyer. There are a number of unknowns associated with business meetings that can contribute to your stress level, but a key to managing that stress is to thoroughly prepare before the meeting.
The first logical step to preparing for a business meeting is to go over in your head the circumstances that led to the meeting. If you met the potential buyer at a networking event, take some time to recall the conversation you had and what you discussed, especially if there was a common factor you bonded over. Reminiscing about the conversation from your last meeting is a great icebreaker and will start the meeting on the right foot. If you’ve only connected by phone or email and haven’t formally met in person before, make sure you know the correct name and title of the person you are meeting. Getting a name wrong could indicate unprofessionalism to your potential buyer, which may make business dealings difficult going forward.
Making sure you have the right name is just the first piece of information you should gather before a business meeting. Take time to research the company’s history, mandate, vision, goals, and overall culture. If the company has a procurement process or unique way of doing business, try to get a better understanding of it before you begin the sales process. The more you know about a company, the better.
If you have any marketing materials or brochures, you may want to consider bringing them with you to the meeting. The ideal piece of promotional material to bring with you would be a capability statement. A capability statement is a one-page document that clearly describes your product or service and the benefits of purchasing it. In addition to your capability statement, you will want to bring business cards and, if appropriate, product samples.
When choosing an outfit to wear to the meeting, keep your personal brand in mind. The clothes you wear reflect your branding as an entrepreneur, from the colours to the style, indicating personality and professionalism. Your clothes should also reflect the tone and setting of the meeting itself. If you are going to a meeting with a number of staff members and you are expected to give a formal presentation, you will want to wear something very professional—business formal. If you are meeting one person for an informal conversation over coffee, you can probably get away with wearing a business casual outfit.
When you’ve finished your preliminary preparation for the meeting, the next step is to determine the meeting logistics. If you aren’t sure where the meeting is taking place, use Google Maps to determine how far away it is. Using the street view, you can even see what the location looks like. If you are meeting in a downtown centre without ample parking, give yourself sufficient time to find a spot or choose to get a cab or find a ride. If punctuality is a challenge for you, there’s an app for that! Check out this article for Apps to Help You Stay on Time, On Task, & On Track.
Arriving on time, in the appropriate attire, knowing that you are prepared and have done your research, you will be able to enter the meeting calm and collected. So put your best handshake forward, take a deep breath, and deliver yourself and your business with confidence.