15 Ways to Increase Trust at a Client Meeting

Back40 Design CowboyIt’s an Back40 buffet. Take what you like and leave the rest.

  1. Don’t use your cell phone in meeting with a client. Don’t place it on the table next to you – in fact don’t even bring it. The days of “Look I have an iPhone” are so over.
  2. If you are a gum chewer, stop. It looks really stupid. I think it’s a visual clue of low intelligence. If you’d like to freshen your breath, have a mint. Just finish the mint before the meeting.
  3. Don’t make the client wait. If the client waits in the waiting area and then waits in the conference room, all you have done is herd the client. “Hi, you’re really important to us, so important that we’d like you to wait in two places.” If possible, have the client escorted to the conference room by the person the client is meeting with. Less confusion = more focus.
  4. Listening is an active task. Let me say that again. Listening is an active task. If you are anxiously waiting until the client’s mouth stops moving so you can say important stuff again, you should probably be in some sort of counseling – not in a client meeting.   Listen, process, wait to respond.
  5. Before you respond – consider, does your response add value? If not, don’t add anything. Adding nothing doesn’t increase value.
  6. Don’t introduce the client to everyone at the company. Your staff hates it.
  7. Take notes. I used to tell my Account Executives and Project Managers that if the client is talking; you’re taking notes. Two reasons: you will forget stuff the client says and it tells the client you are actively listening to the stuff they are saying.
  8. Get the principal, CEO or owner properly introduced to the client. The client will appreciate meeting who’s in charge, and feel more in control of business relationship.
  9. Ask engaging questions that show you have studied up on the client and their business. Asking what they do again halfway through a meeting is not gonna fly.
  10. Don’t stack your meeting team. Have only the people who need to be there – present. If you need a programmer or designer, bring them in for the necessary time – then excuse them. It’s good economics and your client will respect that. If you have an intern joining you
    for the meeting, tell the client that they’re an intern. Don’t tell them that the he or she is a seasoned usability expert.
  11. If you have an intern in the meeting, tell them to keep their mouth shut (preferably before the meeting). Seriously, its been my experience that they have nothing to add of value during a client meeting. They are there to learn. Learning = listening.
  12. Don’t laugh too hard – or too much with your client. Frivolity breeds problems. This is a meeting, not a “wow, we really hit it off – we should hang out.”
  13. Don’t drop the F bomb, even if your client does. If your client does drop the F bomb, pretend they didn’t say it.
  14. If your work is done in the meeting, initiate the conclusion of the meeting. Time is money, and your client will respect that.
  15. Wear a cowboy hat. Studies prove that people trust people who wear cowboy hats. Or, better yet, have the intern wear the cowboy hat.
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