Now that the planning and preparation are complete, and the time for the actual meetings has arrived – how does it work on the ground?
It is nice to have a basic roadmap and to break the meeting down into a simple agenda which ideally you have shared an agreed-upon preemptively with your counterpart, which can help ensure that you remember those SMART objectives and take full advantage of the time and opportunity afforded by the meetings.
Here are some high-level points to include on your agenda:
Of course, you will have the introductions and pleasantries that go along with meeting new people and old friends, so do spend a few minutes getting to know each other or catching up, as the case may be, keeping in mind cultural sensitivities and time constraints. Then it is time to get down to business.
Take guessing out of the equation
One of the pitfalls you should avoid is “assuming” your counterpart’s objectives, so at first make sure to ask them what they would like to get away from the meeting with. Don’t hesitate to ask if there is more until ideally you have gathered 3 objectives.
Armed with information about your partner’s practice or (potential) client’s priorities, and knowing so well what their needs are, you may now feel compelled to jump into an introduction of your services and what you can offer them. However, it is not yet time to dive into this information. Instead, take the opportunity to ask intelligent questions about their business and practice. Don’t hesitate to make reference to your report (e.g. “based on my analysis, am I correct to think you don’t have a reciprocity partner in my jurisdiction?” Or “according to the data, I see we both work for the same client / both work with IP firm XYZ in this jurisdiction”).
Remember that your approach will be different depending on either the existence or absence of a prior relationship and based on whether you are meeting with a law firm team or with a corporate client or target. Regardless of whom you are meeting, their time is valuable, too, and showing an interest in their business and work, especially when you are able to demonstrate specific knowledge of their needs, can be impressive. It can strengthen not only your relationship, but also your chances of continued or future work together.
Use data as an objectified basis of your discussions
It is not uncommon to get stuck on the relationship part of the meeting and to forget or hold off on making the actual business ask, but this is crucial to your ultimate success. This is the time when you can dazzle them with your knowledge and talk about your objectives and the reason why you have reached out to them specifically by pulling your “data report” and analyze it together so you could both agree on the meaningfulness of the relationship.
Demonstrating your deep level of knowledge about their activities, your understanding of business opportunities as well as your in-depth preparation will raise your credibility as a trustworthy partner and might justify the call to action. Examples include literally asking them to give your services a try, to take a chance and send you their next case or filing to see your work in action. For a current client or partner, the ask may be in the nature of a cross-sell, a referral, or an introduction.
Once the business request is made and no objections is thrown at you, it is time to close the meeting:
- Make sure you have answered all of your counterpart’s objectives by reading your notes from the beginning of the meeting;
- Agree on next steps with deadlines (ideally both of you have at least the responsibility of one next step); and
- Show your appreciation. Thank them for their time. Wish them a safe journey and head to the next meeting!
Don’t forget to exchange contact details and as a cherry on the cake leave or send them the data report about their firm and yours as well as it might support the internal discussions.
When preparing for business meeting, big data can help you with three things:
- Making sure you are talking to the right firms and people
- Making sure you understand their business
- Making sure they know you understand their business
In essence, it will lead to more effective meetings and more efficient preparation. Both is worth quite some time and money.
Here at IP Pilot we have built our business intelligence software for law firm specifically around this. If you want to learn more what we can do for you, please get in touch.