The secret of successful client meetings

Listening more than you speak in client meetings is client relationship-building 101. Relationship rainmakers have long tapped into this skill. But it’s far harder to achieve this when you are part of a team. How often have you left a client meeting frustrated at one of your team member’s inability to hear the client out? 

There’s a simple psychological reason listening as a team is harder than listening one to one – the need to stand out among peers to their senior colleagues as much as to the client itself. Clients dislike this type of corporate sibling rivalry because listening to you interrupting each other is nearly as irritating as being interrupted themselves.

Here are three things to try:

  1. Clarify who on your team is going to lead and take questions on which aspects of the meeting. Reassure that person that nobody on the team will “rescue” them or attempt to “add value” to their responses. 

  2. When you debrief the meeting, praise restraint as much as on-point responses. For instance “I know there’s a lot you probably wanted to add about US expansion, but you left it to the person the client will be dealing with on this and that worked really well”. 

  3. Encourage team members to prepare high quality questions as well as high quality content.