Preparing for an Initial Client Meeting

Your first in-person meeting with a potential client is important because it’s where you present yourself and your ability to serve your clients’ needs. But impressing a potential client needs to happen before the first handshake. In fact, there are several steps you can take to show your best face to a client even before you meet in person.

Key Takeaways

  • First impressions count—so be prepared, organized, friendly, on time and dressed to impress.
  • Research the client ahead of time so that you're best positioned to connect with them on a personal level.
  • Don't forget to show the client who you are as well—that you're experienced, professional and ready to help serve their needs.
  • Make sure that it's easy for them to get ahold of you, through multiple communication options so that they can use whatever they are most comfortable with.

Do Your Research

Well before the first meeting takes place, it’s your job to do some research on the potential client. Find out what this person cares about most. What are they looking for in terms of financial and estate planning? Also, what are their hobbies, interests and dreams for the future? All of this can come into play when you discuss financial planning options. It also will show that you care about the individual as a person and are curious about their goals — not only as a client, but also as someone seeking a fulfilling life and a secure financial future.

You may be able to read about your client and their interests on the various social media platforms online. You also should do some research on the individual's place of work by looking at the company’s website. Where a client works can tell you a lot about the type of pressures the individual may be under and how they look at the marketplace. It also may show you what some of their concerns may be about the business in which they work.

Showcase Your Professionalism

Once you’ve had an initial phone conversation with your client, it can’t hurt to send them a personally written letter or email, expressing that you enjoyed speaking with them, and that you look forward to meeting them in person to discuss their financial future and goals. You also should send them your business card and provide all your contact information, in case they want to reach you before the first meeting. Sending your own bio or curriculum vitae to a potential client is also a plus, as it allows the client to learn more about you and your qualifications and to see that you are a person who has built a career, just like them.

It’s also a good idea to send all potential clients a financial questionnaire to fill out, which they can return to you for review before the initial meeting. After reviewing the questionnaire you will be better prepared to talk about how the client may want to move forward in terms of placing their assets and managing their estate. Other documents you may want to request the client bring to the first meeting are their tax returns and account statements. And be prepared to answer questions. By reviewing the client’s answers to the financial questionnaire you should be able to foresee what some of their questions for you may be.

Make It Easy to Find You

Before the first meeting, double check with the client to ensure that they know exactly where you are meeting them, be it at your offices or some other location. Provide the client with directions and a map, so there is little chance they will get lost. It’s also a good idea to give them a call the day before the meeting to remind them of the time and where the meeting is taking place and to find out if they have any other questions for you before the meeting. Don’t forget to express that you look forward to meeting them and let them know that you are confident you will be able to meet their financial planning needs.

Prepare for First Impressions

If you are meeting in your office, let your staff know the name of the potential client and the time they are expected. This way they can be greeted immediately and in a personal manner when they enter the office. Have someone on staff offer them a beverage and, of course, make sure you are on time. You don’t want a potential client to have to wait for you, before they have even met you. And don’t forget to dress in a professional manner and make sure your office is clean and organized.

Bottom Line 

First impressions do count, and that’s why you have to prepare for your first meeting with a client. Get to know as much as you can about a prospective client before you meet them, and you'll leave them with the confidence that you're the right person to answer their questions and achieve their financial goals.

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