What to do and what not to do are both crucial to the success or failure of a client meeting.
As the Design Director for my company, I find my daily tasks split along two lines.
One half of the time is spent behind the scenes researching fashion trends and working with my design team to help develop new product for our accounts. The other half is spent out in front and working with already existing accounts and acquiring new ones.
During my Market weeks I must be fully prepared with information to share about emerging fashion trends, market intelligence, business trends, etc.
During my day I am involved in many client meetings that include presidents of companies, celebrities, high-level management teams, and product development/buying teams. In my experience in all of these types of situations I have found that it doesnt matter who you are meeting with, the same key ingredients are necessary to have a successful meeting.
Know Your Client and Recognize Your Goal
Successful meetings start with the preparation before the meeting.
At my company we typically say that the prep work is about 90% of the meeting. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can quickly prepare for a meeting a few hours in advance and achieve amazing results.
The more time you have for preparation the better.
You will often require facts and data that involves some research such as sales data, demographic information, specific product to pitch, materials such as video materials and an appropriate meeting space.
In my line of work I have learned that paying attention to the details including the aesthetic details in the space, such as signage, food, and other items such as do you need to provide take-away materials?
Doing as much background research as possible on your client so you are as knowledgeable as possible about them is always a good idea. It is important to leave no detail overlooked.
Goals and Agendas
It is also important to know your end goal for each meeting.
Consider if you desire someone to take immediate buying action, are you hoping that you can move to the next steps of having a secondary meeting with higher-level management or with the actual people who can execute on your initiative. Do you want to express your companys full range of capabilities?
Know what you want to achieve so that you can prepare a meeting agenda to structure the topics for discussion at the meeting.
This will keep everyone comfortable throughout the meeting and help to manage time. You will also know when the meeting is complete, if it was a success.
Practice with Flexibility
Share your meeting agenda with your team who will be in attendance to ensure everyone has a clear vision of their role during the meeting.
Practice running the agenda with your team so you are fluent in how you want the meeting to run. Your agenda is a general guideline but sometimes things change up so be flexible in how you maneuver through topics.
The more you practice with your team, the more effortless it becomes in handing over a question to the person who can best answer. And sometimes the best answer is --Im not sure. Ill have to look into that and get back to you.
Don't ever try to make up an answer to something that you dont know.
Next page- Lessons Learned The Hard Way 3 Things Not To Do
About the author
Tina Trevino is the Senior Design Director of KBL Group Intl. Ltd. in NYC and manages their large creative design team and Director Community Relations for Latin Business Today. She shares all of her insight on upcoming fashion trends for the season with her team to start the collaborative design process. The company specializes in sweaters, knits and wovens. It provides product for ladies, men, contemporary, jr, and children. Tina specializes in coordinating directly with large US retailers to design exactly into their targeted customer needs. With many years under her belt in the industry, she has also gained the ability to go beyond the fashion component and help to work through sourcing, fitting, production and merchandising issues as well.