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Let me guess, during your last client meeting, you printed out their monthly report and essentially read it word for word with them.  Congratulations.  You just bored the hell out of your client, wasting their time, your own time, and time that could have been spent optimizing their account.  If you are merely re-reading your clients’ reports or worse, going into a client meeting with no actionable agenda, stop it.  Stop it right now.  It’s boring and it’s not working to you or your client’s benefit.

Below is a system of ideologies and processes along with tips and tricks that we have been using and testing to bring sexy back to our client meetings, in an effort to bring more focus, vision, and value to our client accounts.

We all know that regular contact with our clients builds a stronger relationship that can last over time.  Sometimes these regular meetings or calls can become cumbersome and annoying and we forget the whole point of them in the first place.  Through research, trial and error, and by implementing our own learnings, we have been able to piece together a format or system of processes if you will, for conducting very effective ongoing client meetings and calls.  This system helps us stay focused and let’s us stay in direct communication with our client, so that there are no surprises or fires that could have otherwise been avoided.

So, let’s get started….

The Framework –>

What you’ll need before you can begin:

You need to define what success is for your client, essentially what are their short-term and long-term goals for your program.  Based on this information, you will need to create monthly and/or weekly goals, depending on your frequency of meetings, in order to achieve a successful campaign.

The precursor here is to have consistent and engaging contact with your client, whether that be on a weekly, bi-weekly, or even a monthly basis.   This contact is separate from your regularly scheduled client meetings and is usually in the form of emails, but can be phone calls too.  You are checking in on goals and progress on your next steps or action items.  This way when you have your next scheduled client meeting or call, there are no surprises and you can seamlessly flow into and through your agenda.  Client meetings should feel smooth and flow easily from one to the next, like it is one long conversation.  As the account manager, you are the one who is responsible for dictating the flow and direction of this conversation.  The client might have his or her own agenda, but you are the expert, and it is you who should ultimately lead the way.

The Processes –>

  1. Schedule regular and ongoing client meetings, 1-4 times per month
  2. Create and send a separate agenda to the client before each meeting
  3. Take notes or have someone take detailed notes during the meeting
  4. Create next steps as action items
  5. After every meeting send the client a recap email
  6. In between scheduled meetings, touch base with your client on pertinent updates relating to goals and action items

Client Meeting Preparation –> Agenda:

Each client meeting should be focused around the goals that were decided upon in order to achieve a successful program.

    1. At the beginning of each meeting build ongoing rapport with your client
    2. After intros, start each meeting with a recap of goals from the previous meeting and how they relate back to a successful program
    3. What you did to work toward achieving these goals
    4. Outcome (status) of your work since last meeting
    5. Areas of high performance and areas of low performance
    6. Ideas and recommendations of how you can exploit those areas of high performance and how you can improve upon or change direction in the low performing areas
    7. Time for any Q & A

Sexy Client Meeting Tips –>

1. Send Agenda to Client

Send a separate agenda to the client before the meeting time, so that they know what you want to discuss during the meeting.  This way they don’t feel like they came unprepared or are being ambushed in any way.  It will also give them a chance to add anything you might not have already included, and that way you can come prepared for this newly added discussion point.

 2. Nurture Client’s Agenda & Priorities

With the separate agenda you send to the client, you should have a good idea of what the meeting topics will be.  But, it is important to ask confirming questions during the meeting in order to find out the client’s most pressing concerns.  You should try to get the client to move forward on at least one of their own agenda items.  Conversely, you are trying to get the client to move forward or agree upon at least one item on your agenda.  Come prepared to handle any objections you might get from the client here.   With this, both parties feel like they are better positioned towards achieving their goals than they were before the meeting.  It is our responsibility as the account manager to lead the account, as well as lead your client, in a path that achieves long-term success for both parties.

3. Goals & Action Items

Make sure that your client agrees with your shorter-term and longer-term goals.  Ask them if they would like to see different goals or perhaps different action items to reach those goals.  The more clear you are here about goals and action items, the less lack-of-performance or lack-of-communication issues you will be dealing with in the future.

When you are writing out your action items, include the who, what, and when.  They should be written so it is clear who is responsible for the task, either you or the client, what is the task that needs to be completed, and when the task needs to be completed by.   Action steps are very important in order to transition smoothly from one meeting to the next.

4. Recap Emails

 After every scheduled client meeting you should send the client a recap via email, Basecamp, etc.  The idea here is to bridge the gap or keep a seamless flow of communication between client meetings.  The recap should include all the notes you took, any other pertinent information that was discussed, including your action items as the next steps to take until your next scheduled client meeting.

5. Reports & Highlights

Have an ongoing discussion with your client about your reporting and what you highlight in order to make sure that it is indeed what your client is after.  Sometimes the client never expresses that they don’t really use your reports or that they only use part of them, because their manager or boss only cares about certain metrics or items.  You are trying to discover the motivating factors behind the client’s goals and agendas.  You can really make your client look good by having these conversations and delivering reports that really focus on what they care most about.

6. Relationship Building

You are trying to build a relationship and ongoing trust with your clients.  Connect with your client on LinkedIn and possibly other social networks so that you can stay up to speed on what they are doing both professionally and personally.  Remember, that most business relationships are built on a personal level.  People work with and do business with people they like and trust.  So, spend time getting to know your client, who they are, and what they like to do.  At the beginning of your meetings ask them how their day or week has been, or what they did the previous weekend, etc.   See if you can take them out to lunch or possible a coffee or drink sometime.  A more casual meeting over drinks or coffee can often build a stronger relationship than a formal visit to their office.

Bringing this all together –>

With the system, framework, ideas, and tips above, what we are constantly trying to do is relate everything back to both the client’s and our own goals and how those allow us to achieve predefined success. Essentially what we are trying to do with each of our client meetings is to bring a sense of style and purpose, or in other words, making our client meetings sexy!  When we think of something being sexy, we think of style, we think of confidence and leadership.  These are all attributes that we are trying to bring to our client meetings and as a result, we are seeing strong growth and retention with our clients.

Please leave us your comments below and let us know if you are using any sexy attributes in your client meetings?

About Brendan Barnhart

Brendan is a SEM Account Manager at the PDX office of Add3. Non-Internet activities that Brendan enjoys, include: Golfing, Basketball (Playing & Watching), Traveling and Watching Movies. Connect with Brendan via email: brendan@add3.com; LinkedIn; Google+ or Twitter!

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