Featured image by VGstockstudio
If you own a business or work in sales, entertaining clients comes with the territory. But if it’s something you’ve struggled with in the past, it probably makes you nervous. So are there ways to make it a more accessible and rewarding experience?
The Power of Entertaining Clients
After a two-year hiatus from most in-person events and face-to-face networking, it’s easy to forget the importance of entertaining clients. Thankfully, we’re back to where “face time” is no longer just an app on your phone. It’s something you get to engage in actively.
Entertaining clients is more than a box to check or an expense to deduct. It’s about creating, maintaining, and fostering healthy relationships. It allows you to engage in an informal setting and get to know people personally outside of business. And in certain situations, it paves the way for productive business conversations that move you closer to a sale.
You can accomplish a lot more in two hours of face-to-face entertaining than you’ll ever achieve in dozens of phone calls and emails. It’s like infusing your relationship with healthy growth hormones.
RELATED ARTICLE: AN AMERICAN CLIENT BASE IS PIVOTAL TO UK SUCCESS
5 Tips for Wowing Your Clients
To make your time with entertaining your clients meaningful and productive, you need to impress them. Here are several tips for getting more out of your time, money, and energy investment.
1. Choose the Right Settings for Entertaining Clients
The setting you choose for entertaining clients is crucial. Different environments can create different feelings, emotions, and connections. What works for one client might not work for another client. You also have to consider your pre-existing relationship, current circumstances, and even future expectations.
Generally speaking, it’s best to do client entertainment in a third-party environment. The most popular options are event spaces, restaurants, bars, breweries, coffee shops, sporting events, and the like. Ideally, there’s some sort of entertainment or activity happening in the background. This removes some pressure while creating a memorable experience for everyone involved.
Having said that, there are times when a more intimate setting can be more appropriate and effective. This is the case if you’re entertaining a long-time client with whom you already have a relationship. In these situations, don’t be afraid to get personal. For example, you could try entertaining at your home.
When entertaining at your home, you still need to impress. Try building an outdoor kitchen or converting a bonus room into a game room or bar. The key is to create a space that’s oriented around entertainment.
2. Show Up Prepared
Just because the setting is a little more relaxed and personal than a professional business setting doesn’t mean you can be sloppy and disorganized when you’re entertaining clients. Be prepared and always show up dressed for success. Project the image you want your clients to have of you.
3. Iron Out the Details in Advance
When you’re entertaining clients, always have the details planned out in advance. For example, if you’re doing a cookout in your backyard, have all the supplies on hand. Think through the details, like having drink options, filling the cooler with ice, having citronella candles to keep mosquitos at bay, and so on.
If you’re going out to a restaurant, call ahead to have appetizers ready when you show up. And if you think there will be any fight over the bill, give them your card before the evening begins.
4. Avoid Talking Shop
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid talking about business unless the client brings it up. And even then, avoid spending the entire evening discussing work. Instead, let them guide the conversation and ensure there’s plenty of discussion about other things. Again, the goal with entertaining clients is to strengthen your relationship. If everything is about business, you miss that opportunity.
5. Give a Parting Gift When Entertaining Clients
This might seem like overkill, but consider giving the clients you’re entertaining a parting gift at the end of the day or evening. You leave a positive lasting impression by handing them something tangible that they weren’t expecting. Examples include a bottle of wine, a branded gift, a gift card, or something similar.
RELATED ARTICLE: 5 REASONS TO HIRE A BRANDING AGENCY
Adding It All Up
Revamping your approach to entertaining clients in the wake of the pandemic and the emergence of a brand new business world is a must. Use the tips highlighted in this article to get ahead and strengthen your relationships with both new and existing clients.
RELATED ARTICLE: 4 SIGNS YOU NEED A BUSINESS COACHING PROGRAM