There is no doubt in the fact that we live in an era where most of the work and the connection building affair happens virtually. Although this computer mediated communication has turned out to be advantageous in many aspects. Though, it has its own share of shortcomings.
As a Chartered Accountant, you may be able to communicate virtually via video conferencing, conference calls, etc. Such a virtual interaction can be for brainstorming and routine tasks that need decision making.
However, you might not be able to collaborate with your prospects or clients on issues which require greater negotiation and intellect.
Your customers and prospects today look out for accounting firms not simply for conventional auditing and taxation services. Rather they want you to be their trusted advisors.
As trusted advisors, small business owners are seeking your assistance for avenues like
- setting up new businesses,
- company valuation,
- devising business plans,
- managing core activities like taxation, return filing etc.
All these tasks require you to collaborate with your clients in person given such tasks can be undertaken to a certain extent virtually.
Why Not Virtual Meetings?
Virtual meetings fail to enable you as Chartered Accountants to undertake tasks that require a higher level of coordination and knowledge sharing with your customers.Thus, face to face meetings are essential to build strong business relations. It also helps in finalizing important business deals with your customers even in this era.
According to a research, 47% of the business owners said that they lost a contract or a client because they could not meet them face to face.
So let’s first understand why face to face meetings are important even today. And then shift to understanding what you should do to prepare for the same.
Why Are Face To Face Meetings Important Even Today?
Following are the reasons why face to face meetings are important even in this digital era:
- Facial expressions and body language of your customers give visual hints that tell a lot about what your prospects or customers think about you and your services. This is something that they do without actually saying it verbally. Now, this is an important aspect that is missing in virtual meetings these days.
- Higher trust is built between you and your customer by meeting them in person. Your customers are able to analyze your skill set in a much better way in a face to face meeting over virtual interactions.
- Better engagement is another aspect of face to face meeting. This is because virtual meetings are strictly about business and do not allow for conversations that help in building better rapport.
- Tasks requiring higher level of collaboration, intellectual discussions, strategic planning etc are difficult to undertake on virtual platforms of communication. Face to Face meetings are any day better for such knowledge sharing and collaborative tasks.
Given these benefits, let’s now understand how you should prepare for face to face meetings as Chartered Accountants.
How To Prepare For Face To Face Meetings?
1. Be On Time
The most important aspect of being a professional is to be on time. Showing up late for a meeting indicates that you are being impolite to your clients. Further, it will always put you in a state of unrest and would not allow you to put forth your best.
You will not be able to focus on the issue at hand and have the higher odds of missing out the important things that need to be put on the table.
Imagine, you as a Chartered Accountant are planning to visit one of your clients to give him a strategic plan for his business. Running late for the meeting can put you in the mode of distraction. And could hold you back in giving important insights to the prospect with regards to his business.
Further, it may put a bad impression on the mind of the prospect who might hesitate to give you the project at hand.
2. Make A Great First Impression
The first impression that your customer has about you is the one that lasts forever. Thus, it is very important for you as a Chartered Accountant to work on the first few minutes of your interaction with your prospects.
Since, the prospect is considering you to either handle his future business taxation or be his trusted advisor, your first impression must give him the confidence that you can certainly be one.
Thus, as a Chartered Accountant you must be professional, confident and must have a sound knowledge of business taxation and accounting advisory.
This is because the prospects start judging you from the second you happen to meet them. So anything about you that gives them an impression that they cannot trust you for the kind of services they want to avail, it is very difficult for you to later change that perception.
3. Do Focus On Your Attire
As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Thus, dressing well while meeting your clients face to face is as important as preparing notes or presentation for the meeting.
The very objective behind dressing like a professional for a meeting is to showcase competence, build connections and make an impression of an expert advisor. According to a study, appearance ranked second to communication skills as one of the characteristics related to professionalism.
Furthermore, what to wear for a meeting must depend on the type of prospects or clients you are seeking to meet.
For instance, for an executive level meeting, it is always suggested that you should wear formals like tailored suits. Whereas, for relatively casual meetings, there is no specific dress code as such. However, you should always make an effort to look professional in your outlook.
4. Be Polite
This is another implicit rule for having a face to face meeting with your customer. Being polite is one of the most important characteristics of a professional like Chartered Accountant.
This is because it helps in putting clients at ease and building long lasting relationships. Politeness creates a conducive environment for communication and helps fill the cultural gap between you and your customers.
It puts a good first impression on the mind of your customer and helps build that trust in you as an entity.
5. Prepare Beforehand
It is extremely important that you appear to be confident to your customer. This will help your customer to perceive you as competent and trustworthy.
However, being overconfident about yourself and the services that you can offer can create doubt in the minds of the customers regarding your professional capabilities. This might even create a block in their mind as far as building a long term relationship with you is concerned.
So, make sure that you are able to clearly communicate your insights to the customer. Modulate your voice and lay emphasis on the facts that are important and hence need to be communicated more powerfully.
Also, exhibit a straight posture and avoid nervousness.
6. Be Confident
The first and the foremost step in preparing for a prospect or client meeting is to understand the rationale behind such a meeting. Identifying what the meeting is all about – pitching your services to a new prospect, solving the problem of an existing customer etc – will help you lay a foundation for the other aspects of preparation.
After identifying the purpose, the next step is to decide the participants who would accompany you for such a meeting. Assigning them roles would help in carrying out the meeting in a more organized way and lead to better engagement from the customer.
If you have a presentation prepared for the meeting, make sure that all the material for the same is at place. Also, sharing some important questions with your customer or prospect before the meeting turns out to be really helpful. It helps you in understanding what your customer wants and how can you add value to the same.