Planning in Advance to Get on Client Calendars

No one wants to have more meetings than necessary. But scheduling regular ones with clients can yield tremendous results in the form of smoother projects, happier clients, more work for you, and a stronger relationship.

So get your clients into the habit of seeing you on a steady basis. Doing so takes a little planning ahead on your part (as well as giving them compelling reasons to meet with you), but it’s well worth the effort.

To help you stay in touch, here are 4 tips to consider from our friend Allison Roberge, an account executive at Sogeti USA:

Tip #1: Establish a Cadence

When it comes to communication frequency, each client will have his or her own preference. That’s why it’s important to discuss expectations up front with new clients by asking questions like:

 “What kind of communication frequency do you like to have?”

Or:

“Many of my clients like to meet at least quarterly. Are you comfortable with that? Would you like to meet more often or less often?”

Tip #2: Keep Seasons in Mind

For instance, the holidays can pose a challenge when it comes to client meetings. So start your yearly planning well ahead by setting up January meetings in November.

“No one wants to meet around the holidays or right after,” says Roberge. “But when you have something set up for the end of January, your clients expect you and are ready for you.”

Likewise, summer can undermine meeting efforts, thanks to shortened workdays and telecommuting. But scheduling meetings well in advance – before the start of summer – will help ensure you don’t lose momentum.

Tip #3: Know When You’ll Meet Next

At each meeting, you may not necessarily need to schedule an exact date and time for the next meeting. But do walk away with an expected time frame in which you’ll get together next. Then follow up shortly after with a proposed meeting time. When contacting your clients, do it first thing; not at the end of the day. You’ll send a subtle message that they are a top priority.

Tip #4: Provide Value at Each Meeting

Create an agenda, review status notes, make phone calls to all the key people involved and get project updates before each meeting. Anticipate your client’s questions and walk in with answers. Always have an outcome in mind for every meeting; knowing what two or three things you absolutely want to accomplish.

If you’re not providing value at each meeting, then you’re not doing your job. So don’t ever just “wing it.” Otherwise, getting on a client’s calendar will be a whole lot harder.

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