Most entrepreneurs have had an occasion at least once in their careers where they had to deal with a client when they weren't feeling the most confident. If one is to be honest, there are times when you have to get in front of a client on a day when you have had a fight with a spouse, a flat tire on the way to the meeting and left all your business cards on the dining room table and yesterday no prospect wanted to hear anything you had to say. These things happen in the life of every entrepreneur and they are a blow to the confidence. However, when those occasions happen, you as the entrepreneur still have to show up like a grown up and get business done.
It is natural for your confidence to be shaken in situations where you have had several failures with clients recently. Those failures may shake your confidence and make you feel has though you have lost the special thing that made you an expert in your field. At those times you must get dressed, by that I mean you must put on your big girl panties and your fake it until you make it dress and act as if you are confident in what you are about to say to your client. In order to be successful in dealing with confidence, you actions must be based upon reality. To project confidence when you do not actually feel confident, you must start with preparation.
Whatever your industry, whatever your area of business, you must continually educate yourself and keep up to date with the latest news, advances and players in your industry. It is important for you to do research on your clients. If you know what is going on with them you can do a better job helping your clients. In addition, it gives you a base of knowledge upon which to build. When you know your industry, and are able to discuss it with others in a knowledgeable manner you appear to be expert at what you do. When you know your client, understand the business environment in which your client works and even remember the little stories the client has told you about family you are building a base from which confidence will flow when needed.
When meeting with a client on a day like the one described above there are two tactics you can take:
- tell the client about the situation
- don't tell the client about the situation
If you choose to tell the client about the situation, tell the story in a joking manner. Then let the client know you are glad to have the client meeting so that you can put yourself into your work and some sanity. For example I once had an executive going in to meet a prospect who took off his jacket and put it on the passenger seat of the car. He did not realize that one of his children had left an open paint container on the seat. During the drive the paint spilled and ruined his expensive suit jacket. This meant that instead of meeting the prospect looking professional and successful, the executive was going to go in half dressed and looking unprepared.The choice was to go home or go to the meeting and try to make lemonade out of lemons. So the executive went into the meeting with the damaged jacket. He told the prospect he considered rescheduling because of the ruined appearance, but didn't because he knew the prospect's time was valuable. The executive and the prospect, who became a client had a good laugh at the things kids do to their parents. By telling the client that you are willing, able and ready to meet the client's needs and solve the client's problems without regard to your personal problems you are able to impress the client and make the client feel valued and important to you.
If you choose not to tell the client about the situation, hold your head up, stick your chest out and move forward safe in the knowledge that you are good at what you do, you have done the necessary research and you are prepared to make this relationship with the client beneficial for you both. Doing research and preparing in advance for each meeting with a prospect or a client arms you with information. The client is paying you for your information, expertise and talent so put on a smiling face and a confident attitude to make the client feel you are worthy of the investment.
A funny thing happens when you research and prepare in advance for client meetings. You may start the meeting faking confidence, but as the meeting continues you will realize that you deserve the client's business, you can handle the client's business and you will do well with the client's business. In the end, fake confidence will become real confidence as your satisfaction with your hard work pays off.
It is easy to fake confidence with a client if you have researched and prepared in advance. So the question for you this Fantastic Friday is, have you ever had to fake confidence with a client?