Building relationships with potential clients is the foundation of a successful business. Launching directly into a sales pitch from a casual conversation just won’t do. But how can today’s busy professional maximize time and get to a pitch while still staying genuine as we meet many people each day. One tried and true method is the lunch and learn event.
Hosting a regular lunch and learn on your calendar can always give you that casual, but pointed invitation for people to learn more about what you do and how you uniquely package and deliver services. Many think this is a great idea, but immediately worry about either playing to a relatively empty house, or worse – having a full venue and no great message or program.
We offer a few tips for both such fears!
1. Consider your venue. It should be in a well-known location. This is not the time to “try something new”. When invited they should easily recognize the venue. You should consider the size as well because ambiance plays a big role in how comfortable people are. If your venue has a larger or smaller option, consider staying small. People feel their choice to come is legitimized by others’ choice to come. When you put people into closer proximity they feel the connection and are more likely to get more comfortable quickly. Remember that you’ll have a few no shows and better to have to pull up a chair to make room for one more than to start your presentation to an echoing hall that feels like the cavern of professional doom.
2. Consider your invite. Some people like to keep things casual and let you know “at the last minute”. If you make it casual and unimportant, your prospective client will agree with you. Instead, consider a more direct invite in which you say you have so many seats at this next event. Would they like for you to hold a place for them? If they do, be sure to leave it casual in the moment, but follow up with a written invitation (a ticket is best) and a reminder call one or two days before the event.
3. Consider the greeting. Have name tags or name cards for their seats prepared in advance. This sets the tone that they were expected and that you have made preparations for them in particular.
4. Consider the length. Never go over you allotted time with a professional lunch. Sticking to the schedule shows your audience you respect their time.
5. Don’t test their reading ability. If you go for the ever-popular visual presentation be sure to leave the reading of your points to you. Instead of highlighting your bullet points consider using images, jokes or statistics to drive a point home. Your visuals sound be complimentary, and not a recap of every point and nuanced statement.
6. Don’t forget the call to action! So many go through the trouble of inviting, paying for catering, building relationships, and doing the presentation only to never provide the audience with a clear next step. Be sure to show your potential clients what it would look like if they wanted to work with you. Some people are uncomfortable with a direct ask. Telling stories can be much more powerful. For example you call to action could include stories along this pattern, “Each one of our clients is unique, and we first listen to what they need, but each one of our clients took the first step in asking us for help. That may look different to each of you. One client called us in to discuss X. Another brought a group of their leadership to our place for a more in-depth meeting. Another invited us in to tour their facility so we could ask better questions. No matter what your need is, we can be called on to help you make that next step. Let’s figure that out together.”
Are you a part of a larger team? Consider taking turns hosting the lunch and learn so that you can attend with your invited guests while sharing the pressure of being the host. You also get the added benefit of your potential clients seeing your teamwork and collaborative approach.
Contact Beimdiek Insurance we believe in a collaborative approach! From HR consulting, risk assessment and guidance on reaching your company goals, our team listens and solve real business problems. With offices throughout Southwest Missouri, we’re here to help you! Visit us in Carthage, Joplin or Neosho.