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Aug 1

Take the Pressure Off of Client Meetings

I’ve been in hundreds of client meetings during my career as a creative director pitching ideas, proposing creative solutions, and trying to win clients’ business.

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I thought I had to be the guy with a killer sales pitch, and smart responses to questions that prospects would throw at me.

In these meetings, it felt like everything was on the line.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars to close.
My job, and the jobs of the employees I was responsible for.

I felt like I had to prepare and rehearse my presentations.
Design every slide right.
Develop a script to recite.

It was a lot of pressure on me and my performance.

This resulted in stumbling through my presentations, filling awkward silence with insecure responses, and a lot of missed opportunities because I couldn’t convince some prospective clients to work with me.

After years of coaching from Chris Do, and many meetings later, I’ve discovered the source of all of that pressure. It turns out it was all completely internal. No one was applying this pressure except for me.

I was entering each prospective meeting with the idea that I must sell to this person. That I have to blow them away with my presentation and convince them to pay for my services. I came in with expectations to wow and win.

That was the problem. My approach to sales and client meetings was very flawed.

So i changed my lens on the whole situation.

Serving VS. Selling

What changed my approach to take the pressure off of client meetings?

When I enter prospective client meetings, I now go in with the lens of being “helpful,” rather than going in to “sell.” When I walk into that conference room, this is what I tell myself:

“I’m not here to make a sale. I’m here to be helpful.”
“I’m perfectly ok if we determine that this is not a good mutual fit.”
“If I cannot genuinely help this prospect, I will walk away from the job.”

These are the things that I go through in my head. This takes all the pressure off of me. This turns the presentation into a conversation, focused on the value we can create together if we were to engage.

I create value by asking high-quality questions that exhibit my position as a fiduciary for their best interests.

I always ask these three golden questions:

“What are your goals?”
“What’s getting in the way?”
“How can I help?”

I’ve found that having a “helpful” mindset and asking high-value questions are more powerful than any prepared slideshow deck.

AT the end of each meeting:
  • The prospect feels like I have their best interest at heart because I have put their needs ahead of my own sales agenda.
  • I’ve proven my value as a consultant and partner because I’ve been able to target their challenges and have surfaced insights that could positively impact their life or business.
  • They’re more willing to pay a premium since the problems I’m solving are bigger than the project they originally contacted me for.
  • In some cases, we determine we’re not a good fit. Yet, the prospect can recognize the value of my services. Often they would make referrals to colleagues who could use my help.

There is no pressure on me.
I don’t have to impress anyone.
I don’t need a fancy rehearsed presentation.

I’m just present.
Diagnosing their challenges.
Trying to determine if I can truly help them.

Check out this video of me and my partner Ben. We’re on our way to a BIG client meeting. He’s a little nervous suffering from some internal pressure, so I share these concepts with him. Coming out of it we both felt great, and are now working towards closing a huge deal with this prospect.

Next time you go into your client meeting, take your sales agenda off of the table. Stop talking about the output of your work. Instead, focus the conversation on them and their needs. Change your lens to that of a helpful one, and see how much that changes the outcome.

How do you approach your prospective client meetings? Any rituals or mindset tips? i would love to hear from you.

Changing your mindset isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you need help with changing your internal lens or learning how to talk to clients better, I recommend checking out our Business Bootcamp. If you want some one-on-one time, you can also hire me as a consultant.

Matthew Encina

Matthew Encina is an award-winning creative director of branding, interactive experiences, and video content for Fortune 500 brands, music artists, and video games. For over ten years he has been working on top-tier campaigns at LA’s premier design studios and agencies.