Congratulations, you have a meeting with a prospective new small business client! With any luck, the reason they have contacted you is because you were directly recommended by someone. This obviously gives you a head start, because the prospective client will have a good impression of you before you even arrive.

But even if that’s not the case, there are some things you can do to maximise the chances that the prospect will turn into a client. What you need to achieve is your prospective client to have finished the meeting feeling the following:

  • That you have the knowledge, expertise and experience they are looking for
  • That you are reliable and efficient
  • That they have warmed to you personally and feel they could work well with you
  • That you understand the challenges they are facing as a small business owner and will be able to come up with practical solutions to those challenges.

But how do you achieve that? Here are some tips to ensure your prospective client goes away feeling all those things, and is looking forward to receiving your proposal.

1.   Be aware of the client’s body language, do they appear engaged and interested? Adjust what you are saying if not.

2.   Be friendly, approachable and down-to-earth.

3.   Use empathy. For example when the client is describing a challenging situation they are dealing with or have dealt with, demonstrate that you recognise and understand how stressful the situation was. It might be all in a days’ work to you but to a small business owner, employee relations difficulties can be devastating.

4.   Show that you understand the particular challenges involved in small businesses (cost restrictions and close personal relationships being two examples). If you give the impression of only knowing about a big-business environment the client will not relate to you.

5.   Use examples – to demonstrate that you’ve been in the relevant situation before and successfully advised clients on how to deal with it, and to demonstrate that you’ve worked with similar clients, in the same sector or with very similar challenges – clients find this very reassuring. The challenges they are facing may be all new to them, but they want to feel that the HR consultant advising them has been-there-done-that hundreds of times before.

6.   Give a bit of free advice. This will demonstrate your credibility, earn you some goodwill, ensure that the client feels they have had value from the meeting and reassure them about the prospect of working with you.

7.   Encourage the client to tell you about their business. Use any opportunity you can to demonstrate that you can quickly identify relevant issues to them, or relevant challenges they may have had in their growth.

8.   Give the client an overview of your approach to HR and your background, and make sure you offer them the opportunity to ask anything else they want to know about you.

9.   You may find the prospect is seeing several HR providers. Don’t criticise the competition, just highlight what’s good about you.

10. Dress appropriately for the prospective client’s workplace, and if you are wearing a jacket, take it off – it can feel a bit like a barrier or armour and can sometimes undermine the ‘approachable’ image you may be trying to convey.

Of course the meeting is only part of the process – how you follow up and the quality of the proposal you send them are also vital, but the impression you make in person is the most important. Getting that right makes following up and putting them on your client list a lot easier!

If you want more guidance on successfully marketing your own HR consultancy get in touch to find out more about working as a partner with face2faceHR.