Leading client meetings, with Jenny Plant


Manage episode 307649762 series 3009195
By Jenny Plant and Jenny Plant - Account Management Skills Ltd. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
In this episode, I'm going to share with you three key steps to leading a client meeting. One of the many roles of an account manager is to lead meetings where you may have several clients involved, and also several members of the agency team. So this might be a presentation of your new ideas, or it could be campaign results, or even you might be conducting a post project review: anything where there's meetings of several individuals from both the clients side and the agency side. And actually, as main point of client contact, you're the one that needs to be seen to be facilitating and leading a meeting such as this. So I want to share with you three key steps you can take to make sure that you're covering all bases when you turn up at meetings.

And the reason I'm doing this is
many participants on my Account Accelerator programme tell me that sometimes they struggle, leading client meetings where there are several agency colleagues involved. And one of the reasons is, perhaps the agency colleagues that are attending the meeting are more senior, or maybe they're more extroverted, or maybe they just have more to say. But what happens is sometimes the account manager feels, hang on a minute, I should be sort of being seen to lead this, this call or this meeting and actually, what I'm beginning to feel like is, I'm not being the main person here, and I just don't look like I'm in control.

So it could be that there's another character in the room that's a stronger character, or they just simply know more about this particular topic, and are kind of an extroverted character where they like to talk a lot, but for whatever reason, really, if you follow these three key steps, I think you're going to set yourself up for success.
So the first step is to reconfirm. And they will begin with Rs because I love a model. So to Reconfirm the meeting with the client, so perhaps you've set a date with the client for two weeks time, where you're going to be presenting your ideas back. Now, the smart thing to do is before you turn up at the meeting, is to call in advance to make sure, maybe it's a several days in advance to reconfirm the time, reconfirm how you're going to connect, and also to go through the agenda. Now, this is also an opportunity to ask the client, what their expectations are for that meeting. For example, you could ask something like for this meeting to be successful, what for you needs to have happen by the end, and then you go really quiet, and you wait for the client to tell you. So you might be surprised, you might be surprised that they will say something like, Well, actually, my business unit director is going to be there. And actually, it's really important to me that you shine in front of him, because he doesn't know you, he's never met you and he might have another agency that he'd like to work with. Now, this is great background knowledge for you. So obviously, another important point of this is reconfirming who's going to be at that meeting. And like I just intimated perhaps there are going to be other people from the client side that you've never met before. So it would be really in your interest to understand who they are, how experienced they are, how up to date they are with the project, or what you're going to be presenting, and more importantly, what their expectations of that meeting are. So you know, you can ask your client contact, tell me who's going to be there? And can you spend a few minutes telling me a bit about the background to these people? And perhaps can you introduce me in advance, so perhaps I can introduce myself and just double check what their expectations are of the meeting. So this means that you are going to understand who's going to be there, and what they want. Now, a little tip, if you are given the names of those client individuals that you have met, then you can go over to LinkedIn and see if you can find their profile, look at their background experience. And also, you could download an app called Crystal Knows and Crystal Knows tells you the type of kind of communication style this individual has. It's really fascinating. I was a bit sceptical at the beginning, but I have to say having tested the app with several profiles of people that I know, I can honestly say that it's quite accurate. So this is obviously useful information for you because that will give you context for what kind of character they are, and perhaps what they're looking for. So for example, if you know from looking at their profile and looking at the app, maybe, that they tend to be very analytical, not particularly outgoing, they like the detail, they love spreadsheets, then you can then have that in mind, when you're presenting. You can maybe take a little information pack that they can then take away and have a look at in their own time. Similarly, if you find out that the characters that are going to be there are extroverted or expressive, or drivers, you know, get to the point, I want the outcomes, don't give me waffle, you know, just be sure to make to keep in mind that you need to adapt your style in the meeting to who's in the room. So that's the first thing, call in advance to reconfirm the meeting with the client. And also, sometimes when you do this, the client might say something like, Oh, I'm glad you called, because things have changed a little bit our side, or something actually else has come up that I need to brief you on. So perhaps we can put aside 20 minutes at the end of the call so I can brief you. You never know. So why is this important? Well, you don't want any surprises at the meeting. You want to look professional and buttoned up. You also want to know if the meeting could be any shorter. You know, if you've put aside 90 minutes for a huge presentation, but actually, the client tells you 90 minutes is a long time. How come? Let's talk about that. Could we do it in 15 minutes or something like that. Also, you want to do a bit of research on the company. You know, what's happening at the company level is anything that you should be aware of. Have a look at their client website for the latest company news, perhaps downloads the transcripts from the the investor relations meetings, if it's a big enterprise client, perhaps look on LinkedIn for the CEO and see if there's any latest news he shared. So yeah, reconvene the meeting, do a bit of background reading.
And then the next step is to Rehearse. So the other R is rehearse. And that's where you want to pull the agency team members together, to talk them through your pre meeting plan. And that is essentially briefing them on who's going to be there, what their expectations are, go through the agenda, and agree roles and responsibilities. And this will prevent anyone talking over you, for example, if you agree that you're going to be the one leading the meeting, facilitating the meeting, opening up the meeting. It's also an open opportunity to think about and anticipate any questions that you think might come up in the meeting, so that you can agree as a team, how you're going to respond to those questions. You may have some questions yourself that you'd like to ask. Also agreeing, how you're going to interact with the team? Who's going to go first, who's going to go second? What's going to happen at the end? Maybe you have a Q&A session, and who's going to lead that and maybe direct the questions. So, getting the team together is a real lovely way for the rest of the agency team members who perhaps don't have that regular contact with your client, to feel included, to feel updated, to feel prepared, and part of your team. So rehearse get together and make sure that, you know, by the time you get in front of the client, you are a well oiled machine, and you've anticipated different things that can happen.
The third step of leading a meeting is to be Ready to lead. So this is the third R, ready to lead. And essentially, it's where your job is to at the beginning of the meeting for everyone there, restate the meeting agenda, talk about timings of the meeting, and what's going to happen at the end. So for example, you might might say that, at the end, my job is going to be to take note of the key action points. And what I'll do at the end of this meeting, is go through those key actions to get them agreed. And then I will within 24 hours of the meeting ending I will circulate a contact report with those key actions document documented. So that's always a good thing to do. Also, if there are any breaks in the meeting, just make sure that you've told everyone, look, we're going to be pausing for 10 minutes for a refreshment break, so that everyone knows in advance that they can maybe take a call that they need to or send an email. And then facilitate the discussion.
Make sure that you're the one leading the meeting pulling people in and looking for those signals from from the client side, particularly, if they are, you know, maybe losing their concentration, getting distracted looking bored, look for members of your team, maybe that may be waffling a little bit too long, or going off agenda points, make sure you bring everyone back to the key objective of why you're there. And then at the end of the call, you can then wrap up, summarise the key points that have been covered in the meeting, and talk about next steps.

So let's just recap. So the three R's so Reconfirm the meeting in advance, Rehearse the meeting internally, and then be Ready to lead the meeting with the client. So I hope you found that useful. I hope there was a couple of reminders there for what you can do. But it's always good to have a process that you follow for every meeting, so that everyone knows the protocol, particularly for big meetings where you only get one chance.
There's another episode of the podcast where I talk about how to overcome status quo bias. And this is where you may be presenting new ideas and perhaps the client is potentially resistant to those ideas, and how you can overcome them. So you can certainly have a have a look back at that episode, I'll include the link in the show notes. And this will give you a reminder of the checklist that you can go through to make sure you cover all of those points to overcome the client status quo bias.
I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you have any questions about leading meetings, then please look me up on LinkedIn, Jenny Plant, send me an email jenny@accountmanagementskills.com.
And just to let you know, I'm running my next Account Accelerator programme on the 23rd of September. This is going to be a nine week programme with five 90 minute coaching sessions every two weeks. And it's where I talk you through a systematic approach and a client centric approach to client growth. So it's to take you from unpredictable project revenue to more predictable account growth. And it is for you if you've been in an account management role for at least two years managing managing client relationships and you are responsible for account growth. Then come over to my website on the training hub, and you can find out more. It's accountmanagementskills.com/training.

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