By Amin Akbarpour
In high touch account management or customer success management roles, one of your responsibilities will be visiting clients. These visits aren’t a presidential tour of shaking hands and kissing babies, or just a chance to “put a face to the name” for both you and the client. They are an opportunity for you to have the undivided attention of the client and make huge steps forward in developing the relationship. These are meetings that need to be well planned and carefully thought out. Here are four tips for a productive, in-person client visit.
Set a Clear and Structured Agenda
Unless you’re based down the street from the client in question, you’re going to need a good reason to make an onsite meeting. A typical, weekly status agenda isn’t going to cut it. Any of the following can be the basis of a strong agenda:
Relationship milestone: things like a new product kickoff, quarterly business review, or reviewing the results of a project
Multi-team meetings: if you need to meet with multiple groups or divisions, schedule them all for the same day and do it onsite
Opportunity creation: Would the meeting serve to create opportunities to expand your working relationship? Letting your client see and meet you onsite shows dedication and commitment. It demonstrates that you aren’t just a vendor but should instead be viewed as a long-standing partner.
Once you have a strong purpose for the visit, you should be able to generate buy-in on the agenda. Be sure to share the agenda on the meeting invitation so everyone knows what to expect, and prepare any of your team members who will be attending so they know what and when to contribute.
Secure Champion Buy-In
You rarely want to walk into a room sharing or discussing content that’s 100% brand new for everyone involved. Get your champion brought up to speed with what you’re planning on sharing early. That way he or she can help you tailor the conversation based on the attendees and can add relevant details and information throughout the meeting. Leverage their tribal knowledge. After all, no one knows the client’s business better than…the client. This is also an excellent opportunity for them to show off a little and share the results they have been achieving with your solution.
Set Up Early
Expect the unexpected when it comes to technical snafus. Show up early, bring all the dongles and adapters you could ever imagine you’ll need, and ask the client for access to the room you’ll be meeting in 10-15 minutes early. So many onsite meetings are derailed because of technical challenges. You can’t avoid all the possibilities here, but do your best to proactively handle it by planning ahead. Don’t let a technical issue frazzle you or delay the meeting.
This isn’t a phone call or a video conference. Read the atmosphere, body language, facial expressions, and the emotional stimulus to know when you’re losing the audience vs. keeping them at the edge of their seats. You don’t have to be a showman here, just know that if you go over a certain data point and see some concerning looks, address it. If there’s been particular silence for an extended period of time, don’t just keep going through your talktrack. Stop. Sit in that silence. Engage the audience. This doesn’t mean asking if there are any questions. Instead take the last point you made and ask a specific person in the room if that’s something meaningful to their business. Be personal and specific.
Once you reach the end of the meeting, don’t forget to cap it all off. Review what was discussed, summarize the major takeaways from the conversation, and define the action items and who owns them. The last thing you want is for this meeting to be a period in the relationship. You want it to be a comma, and to carry the momentum from the meeting forward. Additionally, be sure to follow up the meeting with all of those points in writing as well as a thank you note.
Now you have yourself the recipe for a successful on-site meeting! Have a clear and structured agenda, get your champion involved and bought in, get there a little early to set up, remain tuned into your audience, and make sure to summarize the action items and takeaways when it’s all done. Hit the road, and let’s make customer success happen!
Do you want to improve upon your CSM skills this Spring? The Success League is a customer success consulting firm that offers online training and workshops on core CS topics like Customer Goals & Outcomes and Kicking off the Relationship. Learn more by visiting our website - TheSuccessLeague.io
Amin Akbarpour - Amin is a customer success coach and architect. With relationship-building at the core of his practice, he molds teams by instilling the necessary principles to transform them into trusted advisors. Understanding what's needed for organizational change, he translates theory and ideology into practice and habit. Amin is one of the founding advisors to The Success League. In addition to his work with The League, Amin currently serves as an account manager for Persado. Originally from Southern California, Amin is a University of San Francisco alum who now calls New York City home.