Tips for Talking to a Client with Ease

Charley Mock

Strong client relationships underpin professional success, whether you’re directly involved in sales or your primary role is on the technical side. Developing clients’ trust takes time, but talking with clients doesn’t have to be intimidating.

Everyone is a potential client, but don’t approach people that way. Treat them like a person first, whether they’re a high-ranking official or a young staffer. Building trust is the foundation to a strong relationship.   

Here are some tips that can help both outgoing and introverted young professionals break the ice.

From Jennifer Wasinger, Account Director, Oklahoma:

Be approachable. When you’re meeting people, body language and facial expressions say a lot about you and can set the tone for a conversation. A smile goes a long way.

Start with something easy. It’s OK to open a conversation with something generic, but also use a first meeting to learn something about the client. That can open the door to deeper discussions later.

Do your research. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, look at their LinkedIn profile beforehand. Find out if they’ve been featured in news coverage. Learn about their background and where you might have connections or common interests. Also, know the company’s capabilities so that you can share ideas when the time is right, build trust and position yourself as a resource.

Get involved. Professional and community organizations are avenues for spending time with current clients or meeting potential clients.  Perhaps more importantly, organizations can give you the opportunity to get comfortable talking to new people in less formal settings.

Read name tags. If you’re at an event or convention, take notice of where people are from. Asking someone about their community is an easy way to start a conversation. Just remember to learn about them and what’s going on in their world before you venture into talking about yourself or your company.

From Vimal Nair, Mechanical and Plumbing Discipline Manager, Fort Worth:

Cultivate patience. Really connecting with a client might require multiple emails, phone calls and visits, but persistence pays off when you’re able to win the client’s trust.

Get face time. Find a mentor and tag along on client and site visits. Pay attention to how a more-experienced colleague interacts with clients, especially in addressing sensitive topics. Learn what your colleagues have learned along the way so you won’t make the same mistakes.

Network through conferences. Know who’s attending that you want to meet. Introduce yourself. Stop by their booth, attend their session and find other ways to interact. Give them your card, then follow up with an email to start developing opportunities for more discussions.

Focus on the person. When you talk with clients, learn about them as individuals. Try to understand each personality. Don’t lose your cool or be easily offended if they say something you might not like. Getting to know them as a person goes a long way.

Build friendships. I’ve never tried to develop a relationship with the hope of getting work. The whole idea is to establish a comfortable rapport, then the work will come. And you’ll find that a client who trusts you and likes your work is likely to refer other people to you and expand your network.