Before You Meet the Client for the First Time — Think

This is the first in a series of my posts on the sale-to-design-to-install-to-commission process in our industry. I plan to share my 20-plus years of learning with you. I love to learn and I live to pass my learning on to people who want to listen. I hope you find my writings useful.

stopandthink

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I work in a fairly small company and our clients are fairly small too, but they are loyal and we are passionate about our work. We strive day in and day out to make sure we do the very best for them and, in doing so, they have learned about how they can use us in new and exciting ways. Nothing makes me happier than a current client calling up and asking, “We want to do a video wall can you guys help us out?” Yes, yes we can. We all want to say yes, but if we want to secure repeat business, we have to know exactly why. I’ll give you a common presales scenario.

The call comes in. A prospective client wants to discuss their ideas for renovating the audio and video in their current conference/training room. The appointment is set and you are ready to go. You have no idea what to expect. You do not know how big the room is or anything about the space. You Google the client to get a feel of who they are and what they do. For the purposes of this blog, the company is called Smith and Smith & Company and they make small and large widgets for the hospitality industry. After perusing the website, you begin to get a feel for how the room might be used. You speculate that it will be used for conferences and some meetings. For that, you will need some video teleconference gear (video camera, displays and stuff), you will also need some audio gear (mics, speakers, amp and more stuff) and, possibly, since the space is multiuse, you might also need some collaboration tools (interactive white board, classroom recording gear and even more stuff). What’s just happened? You have just theorized on what gear you “might” use in this space that you have not even seen. STOP!

We have all done this. If you haven’t, then I commend you. I am not saying that speculating is bad; I am just stating that too much could be bad. You have to see the space. You have to get the all important “needs analysis” from the meeting with the client before moving forward. It is crucial. So, jot some pre-meeting ideas down. These ideas will help you get the information from the client. Some examples might be:

  1. Will the room be used more for training purposes or conference meetings?
  2. Who will be using the room?
  3. What are their skill levels when dealing with electronics?
  4. How many hours out of the day and days out of the week will the room be used?
  5. Where will the AV equipment live?

Those are just examples but they do help you get a feeling, even a small one, on how the room might be used and who might be using it.

I’d love to hear your opinions as we go through this series of posts. Next time, we will discuss the actual sales meeting.

About Jay McCutcheon

Jay McCutcheon, CTS-D/DSCE-DE/DMC-E -works as a Chief AV Design Engineer for South Central AV, plays drums, likes beer and bourbon, and lives with his wife Sam and daughter Lily in Gallatin, TN.

4 Responses to “Before You Meet the Client for the First Time — Think”

  1. Great post, Jay, and a great reminder to us all. For the most part I think I’ve followed your suggestion for most of my professional career. A prospective client is going to respect you more when you come to see and listen to their needs and vision before you can comment intelligently and make recommendations of a solution. That in itself will add value to whatever you may recommend. I, too, look forward to your series!

  2. Most of my client would give out a lot of ideas and requirement – but they will only concern about the budget at last…

  3. Very good information Jay! I think the needs analysis is the most important and can make or break the sale. If we don’t do that well, the whole deal can go South by not understanding and delivering on client expectations.

  4. I couldn’t agree more on this!
    Premature speculation can make for very poor management of client expectations on budget, time requirements, etc.
    I look forward to your subsequent posts!