Bonus: Chapter 8 – Meet Key Customers and Partners
What should be covered in my meeting with my key customers and partners?
If you have a client-facing role or a partner-facing role, the first 30 days offer you an excellent opportunity to have an outside-in view of your own organization and your priorities.
Your organization depends on the revenue coming in from your customers and partners. It is, hence, crucial that you address this audience comprehensively and clearly before you take any significant decisions.
I would suggest that you spend your days on the road and planes for the first 30-90 days. You should make it a point to meet all your top customers and partners and some of your second-level clients and partners.
The earlier you do this; you can understand the reality from the field. It is also crucial that you are well-versed with your teams, your people, and your business unit’s priorities before meeting your customers and partners.
When you meet these as external entities, your clients and partners would expect you to come prepared and even may raise issues a few pending issues for resolution. You should not find yourself to be sounding helpless or clueless.
As a manager, you are expected to address the issue comprehensively with alacrity. Too many statements like “I will get back to you after checking”, would not auger well for the first impression.
1 – Prework Before the Meeting – Status of Work/Projects:
In your new role, you are already seen as a capable replacement of your predecessor. There will always be, as in all relationships, open issues that your customers and partners would raise in your very first meeting.
You should also not be surprised if your predecessor had not met the customer or the partner for a long time. Your predecessor may also have consciously taken a step back from meeting your customers and partners in the last few months.
Hence, your customers and partners would have a few pending issues ready for you in the first meeting. To help create the right first impression, you must have a complete understanding of the history of engagement with the client or partner, from your sales or account teams. You must take stock of the current projects, pending orders, and future projects in the pipeline. You would need to quickly understand the critical milestones and the essential items to focus on.
2 – Review Your Mission and Aims.
This would be one of your first conversation starters with your customers and partners. Towards, this end, it is a good idea to have your account manager or relationship manager in the meeting and allow them to drive the conversation. Here are a few things you may address in your first meeting.
- Your background and understanding of their business and how you are willing to take the relationship to the next level
- Being new, it allows you to ‘listen’ to their issues with a fresh perspective, and you may encourage them to open up
- Reiterate the key objectives of the relationship and your assurance to maintain any previous commitments, if any.
- Reiterate your organisation’s mission and aims.
3 – Clarify Expectations.
Setting and meeting expectations are essential for the relationship between an organization and its customer. Having clear expectations from your customer or partner helps you start your path to have a better plan of action with your team subsequently.
Establish some basic ground rules for how you will work together. Discuss topics, including the most effective way to communicate with each other.
4 – Show Your Openness to Be Available at Any Time and Schedule Any Checkpoint Meetings.
Regular checkpoint meetings, help clear the air and continue to refine expectations. If you want your customer to have direct access to you for escalations, you can share your contact. While the half-yearly or annual one on ones or an excellent way to go about it, you may want to choose the frequency of meetings