I guess I crossed the line last week… I apologize to all the bass fisherman for associating their noble sport with golf…….
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Ok, with a little luck and following some hints from How to get that elusive meeting, you scored a meeting with that super busy exec… now what ??
…. the first meeting is,…well,… just the first meeting – getting the second meeting depends on how the first meeting goes…….I made lots of mistake, here are a few things I picked up along the way that might help…….now I know this is really basic stuff, but sometimes we all forget the basics:
- 4X Prep – We often just wing it – that is a mistake….. for important meetings we should prep at least 4 times longer than the actual meeting. 15 min = 1 hour of prep. And do the research – how did the company perform last quarter, what political contributions did the executive make, school, etc. etc. I recently discovered a new tool called Google – you might want to try it……..
- Don’t take a deck – For a first meeting you should write down the key messages, maybe prepare a document, but then leave it behind. Know the 3 key messages or issues. Rehearsing out loud is underrated…..
- Be 5 min early – too early implies you don’t have enough to do, being late implies you are, well, there is no other way to put it….. just stupid.
- Thank the assistant on the way in – He/she is the gatekeeper for all future access.
- Act like you belong – Excessive groveling, genuflecting, bowing, kissing of hands sends the message that you don’t feel like you belong. You do belong because you have insights and perspectives that will be valuable – otherwise you would not have asked for the time – you belong, act like you do.
- Drink your coffee black – My mentor Bob and I had made our way into the inner sanctum of an important CEO very early one morning… the assistant asked if we wanted coffee… Bob said yes, black. I responded with something a bit complicated. She brought Bob’s coffee right away, but then had to interrupt the CEO multiple times to let me know they did not have 2% milk or something…… do everything you can to avoid distractions from the conversation……
- Don’t comment on pictures – some cheap $3 airport business book on how to sell must have told people to spot a photo in someone’s office and then comment on it to build rapport.“oh, I see you have 2 boys ?”
“No, that photo was in it when I bought the frame and I just kept it.”
That is a rookie mistake…and it shows….don’t do it in the first meeting….. or ever.
- Ask questions, listen – always open with a question – my favorite is “how’s business?” Don’t make the chump mistake of trying to prove you did your home work ……. “I noticed your revenue was 4.1% growth with a 2.7% drag due to foreign exchange offset by favorable tax treatment of the Surinam investment, blah, blah, blah”… it is obvious and annoying…. ask questions, listen, be subtle
- Don’t sell !! – I worked with a senior partner once who went into a meeting and listened to the client describe struggles with new product launches. I was surprised the partner did not mention the great work we had just done with another client. He just kept asking questions.. and then some more … and then some more….When the client asked him at the end of the meeting if we could help, he said, “I am not sure, I need to understand more.” I was shocked. …..The second meeting ended the same way… with the client slightly puzzled. After 2 more meetings we deeply understood the issues and the client was anxious for help. Don’t sell, listen.
10. Don’t leave a hard copy – Resist the urge to leave behind a present… you can send it later with a short follow up note… creates another contact point….
11. Leave early, leave early, leave early – even if you ignore everything else – follow this – the best way to get in again is to use their time very wisely and give them time back. Give the subtle signs of preparing to leave 5or 10 minutes before the scheduled end…watch for signs that they are ready for the meeting to end
I will be on vacation with my family in SC next week, we will have a mystery writer next week to discuss the weather…
Have a great weekend !!
Interesting Unrelated Thoughts:
– Pensacola, Florida (longitude -87.32) is farther west than Gills Rock, Wisconsin (longitude -87.022) (Thanks Allison!)
– Average age of US Representatives (57.2) and senators (63.1) at the beginning of 2009 was among the highest ever. They range in age from 28 (Representative Aaron Schock, an Illinois Republican) to 92 (Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia).