We hadn’t spoken in a while and there was a chance we wouldn’t see eye to eye anymore. This wasn’t an old flame, it was an old client. It was time for us to kiss and make up. (Preferably without kissing, but whatever it takes to re-energize a business relationship.)
An e-mail was sent to request a meeting. This was handed to a PA without a personal reply from the client. Perhaps an alarm bell?
Was the client angry or disappointed? Had they met someone more efficient, at a lower price? Perhaps the client had dealt with family hardships, gotten divorced, changed religions, all of the above. The mind can overcomplicate matters.
When faced with doubts and questions
You’ll be fine. You'll survive. At worst you’ll have to hustle harder and re-strategize.
Step past that obstacle and remember you have a secret weapon: shared humanity. It’s taken us billions of years of evolution to reach this moment, to be able to connect. Humans prefer company.
When engaging with clients
Remember their names, their history and personal information.
Google them or their company for news. It could provide talking points or a creative segue in meetings.
(Never arrive at a meeting on a Segway, unless it’s a meeting at Segway.)
Show that you care and are interested. Be honest and straightforward. We all have a unique voice. Use yours to connect.
Clients can get serious when they’re in serious meetings all day. Give them a break, try a light touch if the time is right. Make them smile. Teeth are the best icebreakers.
Rely on fresh ideas to break the ice and warm up a cold situation
Make notes. Don't use a laptop. It makes you look like a courthouse stenographer. Paper and pen are best.
Don’t take notes on your phone. It looks like you’re texting your friend about drinks after work.
Talk about news or sport. If you have access to a sports box in a stadium, get them tickets to the game. If they can’t make it, tell them to pass it on to a family member. Make them part of your circle and work family.
After the meeting
Send a mail thanking them for their time. Say it was good to see them again, and that you will be calling them soon.
From our experience, losing contact with customers isn’t unnatural. It happens. It would be ideal to maintain great relationships with everyone we meet, but reality has different plans. When you do need to re-connect, take the bull the horns and pick up the phone, make a date, chat face-to-face. Don’t neglect things for longer than you have to. Keep a cool head, be sincere and straightforward. If you have been good to your client then all should be okay and the journey will continue.