It’s a beautiful thing when you have grown your business to the point where you have employees that do the heavy lifting like selling and client management. Of course for most businesses, the CEO still has to (and should) get involved with clients. Like many CEOs, I used to feel that I had to do a lot of the talking at the client meetings that I attended. Over the years I found that the opposite approach is best.
Before going to a client, I make sure my colleagues and I have discussed a game plan. (I train them so that they make sure). That game plan, with one exception*, includes them doing almost all of the talking as well as asking most of the questions. Here’s why:
- They probably know more details of the sale or the project better than I do.
- I want the client to have 100% confidence in working with my team, not just working with me. That confidence is earned when my colleague does the talking (remember, they are prepared).
- By not speaking too much, I am essentially reserving my comments when they are really needed like when the client disagrees with what we are saying or when my colleague needs to be backed up. By being selective of when I speak, my words, especially coming from the CEO, have that much more impact.
Even if they get in a jam, I will try (not always successfully) to let them try to get out of it before I jump in.
By the way, you noticed that I used “my colleagues” instead of “my employees”. When meeting someone new, I also say that we “work together” instead of “so and so works for me”. After all, if I am doing my job right, I am really working for them. That is a blog post for another time.
*The exception is when we are discussing a new product or service (as we did when we approached New York Enterprise Report clients with content marketing services). In this case, as in the case when you start a new business, you are selling your vision. Accordingly that means you need to take the lead in these types of discussions.