Tips on Preparing for a Pitch Meeting with a Prospective Client

Stacy West Clark has a great list of 19 tips to follow when you are getting ready to go to a beauty contest, or have a new-business meeting set up with a prospective client.  The full article is on Law.com.  Here are the highlights:

Once you have an appointment set up with the target, follow this step-by-step guide to preparing for and holding a pitch meeting with a prospective client:  

  1. In advance of the meeting, learn everything you can about the target — both the person you are meeting with and his or her company. Understand how they make money. Read their Web site — especially their "press" or "news release" section. Google the company and the individual. Use Westlaw/LexisNexis or all available search engines to identify current and past legal issues, obstacles to the companys success and other "pain points." (A pain point is something that keeps your client up at night — like dealing with a regulatory inspection or handling a tough internal political situation.) At the end of your research, you should be fully conversant about the companys business.
  2. If you are not familiar with their industry, go to some of the trade group Web sites and learn what the pressing issues are that face companies in that area.
  3. Based on your research, consider some free advice or handouts you can provide at the meeting that might help with a challenge they face or save them dollars or legal fees in the future.
  4. Get a handle on work the firm is doing for similarly situated clients in all areas. Know your firms practice areas, recent successes and more. Review your firms Web site and newsletter or walk down the hall to find out what hot areas your firm is involved with right now. You never know what issues the target may raise at such a meeting, so be prepared to cross-sell your firm.
  5. Think of questions you will ask the target at the meeting that demonstrate your knowledge of his or her business and industry and your concern for it.
  6. Alert the receptionist (if the meeting is at your office) that your guest is coming and explain how to greet him/ or her. "Welcome Ms. Clark. We are so glad you are here." I call this the "Cheers greeting." Remember how great it felt to hear the whole bar in the comedy TV show say "hi" to Norman and personally greet him when he walked in the door? It really does make a difference if your guest is made to feel special. Note: Also check that the magazines/firm materials in your reception area are current and your receptionist looks and acts very professionally.
  7. Inspect where you will be meeting. Sit where the target will sit. Make sure the walls are not scuffed, paintings are hung straight and there is not clutter or garbage in their view.
  8. Let others in the firm know whom you are meeting with in case they have any connections or intelligence that might be helpful.
  9. Make sure your appearance is immaculate. Check your clothes, teeth, breath and hair. Check for dandruff or hair strands on your jacket. Even if you think you look fine, double-check it.
  10. Practice your handshake. According to an article that appeared in "Marketing the Law Firm" newsletter by Olivia Cabane, "A Fortune 500 CEO once said that when he had to choose between two candidates with similar qualifications, he gave the position to the candidate with the better handshake." Make sure you have a firm handshake and that you take steps to ensure your hand is not clammy. (Yes, there are steps you can take.) Dont be afraid to shake.
  11. Once there, ask questions about the business, its goals and the targets legal need and then listen, listen and listen. Learn as much as you can. Maintain eye contact.
  12. To the extent you can, offer free advice or cost-saving tips at this initial discussion.
  13. Demonstrate how you have helped other clients facing the same issues as the target.
  14. State that you would very much like to help him or her reach their objectives.
  15. Never say you are "swamped" with work. Make the target feel like his or her case would be the highest priority on your desk.
  16. Discuss and give examples of "value-added" services your firm provides.
  17. Include in your discussion, if possible, your personal client-service protocol such as phone calls returned within four hours and emergency plans in place for your secretary to find you.
  18. After the meeting, follow up with a handwritten note and/or a phone call. Send the target information or news that somehow has an impact on them or their business. Copies of news articles, press clippings, proposed legislation or firm white papers would do the trick. Place the target on your Google-alert list so that Google can notify you whenever the persons name is mentioned on something on the Internet.
  19. Finally, if you do not get the representation, ask why and indicate you would be happy to help them in the future. Use this information to inform your other marketing activities. 

Read more detail on Legal News Directory – Legal Marketing

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