|lol:> Slam dunk your first customer visit|
Meeting that big customer to nail the account? You've got the numbers and the slides; Candace provides a little guidance on the rest of your pitch.
It has come to my attention that some IT folks who've been working for years in a protected development environment may be facing their first ever meetings with a customer. I know, one would hope that you've been talking to your customers all this time, but I suspect that's not really true. For this reason, it seems worthwhile to offer a few pointers for use during a first, critical customer engagement.What to wear for face-to-face engagements
Dress requirements for a customer meeting are different from what you may be used to. For one thing, you are expected to dress. This may come as a shock to those of you who've been working from home in your pajamas and bathrobe, but I promise you that kind of flannel suit is not appropriate. Shoes are required. Depilitation is a must, at least for those places that are generally on view in a normal customer engagement. Razors can be found in many stores (I promise). At the very least, trim that scraggly beard with a pair of scissors. (If you are unfamiliar with scissors, please check out the experts at your local nursery school.)
For those of you who have been working in a lab for years, and actually have been dressing, those comfy jeans in which you are most creative are not what your customer expects to see when you visit his office. Despite what some individuals may think, it is disconcerting to discuss a multimillion dollar deal with someone whose hairy knees are on full display through the holes in their jeans. Even if you are blond. Besides, the news media has made certain that the entire globe knows what you get paid, so you can't even pretend that you can't afford nice clothes.
No matter how brilliant you are, physical appearance does influence the outcome of a deal. Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Would you give four million dollars to someone who looks like they should be mowing your lawn? If you think your customer would, then please send me a note right now telling me the name of their company so that I can sell my stock.
If you wear size thirteen running shoes, please don't prop them up on the conference table. It's hard to watch your customer's eyes over a mountain like that.
Footwear is important. Finely crafted leather shoes that actually shine is what I'm thinking here. And, no, I don't mean sports shoes with twinkling neon lights.
In fact, although it may curdle your stomach to think so, a finely tailored outfit worn with a killer pair of shoes speaks loudly of concern for quality, craftmanship, care, precision, and detail -- characteristics you want your customer to equate with you.
Go look in the mirror. What would your customers think if they could see you right now? No, don't tell me. But, be honest with yourself.
If in doubt about what to wear, consult a really good friend that you can trust 100% not to dress you like a clown.Other thoughts on personal decoration
Although I am an advocate of personal expression, please note that it is hard to articulate large dollar amounts when you must speak around a tongue stud. If you are presenting a bid proposal, leave the jewelry at home. If you are covered with tattoos, how interesting! For your customer engagement, please wear long sleeves. And, please note that a shaved strip down the middle of your head is guaranteed to prevent money men from cutting a check. Chief Information Officers are conservative dudes.Traveling to your meeting
Be sure to wear professional clothing when traveling by air. Otherwise, your suitcase is guaranteed to be lost, and you will be stuck meeting your customer in that "rave" t-shirt. And, no, your scuba-diving certification card is not sufficient ID.What NOT to bring to the meeting
Please leave your pet sugar-glider (BeBe) at home. The last time I checked, these charming marsupials from Australia have never mastered Java, Linux, or wireless networking.
Intelligent though BeBe may be, its/his/her cuteness will distract from your meeting, particularly if its/her/his little furry head pops out of your pocket when you are explaining how focused you are on solving your customer's problem.
I realize that sugar-gliders don't have fleas, don't smell if their diet is correct, and and don't need shots. But, they do eat bugs, and even baby birds in the wild. Imagine if BeBe whips out a little snack. Lastly, let's not forget that BeBe looks like a bat.Teleconferencing Tactics
If you are lucky and budgets are slim, your meeting may be by teleconference instead of meeting in person. If so, you may avoid dealing with the dress code. Hurray! But, there are still a few things to remember.
Such as bringing the customer's telephone number with you to the call. I can't tell you how many meetings begin late because of that. And, do not refer to your customer as "buddy." Although an ancient form of address, "Sir" always sounds best. Please test the telephone before your big call, not during or after. And, no, you cannot eat pork-skins during your presentation.
If calling from a cell phone, please use fresh batteries, roll the window up in your car, and pull into a parking lot. Do not shout at other drivers while you are speaking on the phone. In fact, consider calling on a land-line instead of a cell phone. Alas, despite the wonders of technology, it is still impossible to hear over a roaring crowd in a baseball stadium.
If you are calling from home, please lock your golden retriever in the garage with a large box of doggie biscuits. Liver flavor seems to work best. Recall that cockatiels, finches and other small birds cheep approximately every three seconds. Darling little creatures, but too loquacious for this call. Place them in a well-ventilated, dark closet prior to your meeting (with plenty of food and water since you may be on the phone for hours). "Replay", your terribly clever mynah bird who has the amazing ability to mimic everything you've ever said, gets first dibs on the closet. If he shreds your leather jacket while sulking in there, then I'm sorry. (They made me say that.) Cats are more difficult, but even they can be distracted by giving them your sweatiest baseball cap.
The Rolling Stones are not your best choice for entertaining the meeting participants until everyone is on the call. Neither is Placido Domingo. Also, remember to take the teapot off the stove and remove the batteries from the smoke alarm. Loud shrieking noises have ruined many a call. Bribe the yard man not to use the leaf-blower during this time. It may be expensive, but that's what money is for, after all.
Invest in a telephone with a mute button, and you can avoid sharing the interesting (odd) details of your personal domestic world.
And finally, if you are a new parent, pitch your golden retriever in the house, wrap yourself in a very thick quilt, then lock yourself and the phone in the garage as far away as possible from your darling (screaming) baby.
Just follow this advice, and I guarantee, your customer will think your meeting was a breeze.