Here’s the scenario: You’ve been contacted about a user research project and you are now scheduled to meet the new UX client prospect—either in person or by phone/conference call. What should you do to prepare for and conduct the meeting? In this blog—in 2 parts—I will lay out the steps to
- prepare for the meeting,
- conduct the meeting, and
- follow up after the meeting
Part 1 covers preparing for the meeting and starting the meeting. Part 2 picks up from there with the substance of the meeting—broken into 3 stages—and the follow-up after the meeting.
Phase 1: Prepare for the new UX client meeting
Preparing for the meeting means learning all that you can about the company and the people who will attend the meeting. You may have gotten some of this needed information in your initial contact by phone, email, or a form on your website. Use whatever information you have at hand to explore further. Visit the company website so that you can familiarize yourself with its history, mission, and products or services. For information on the people who will be attending the meeting, use LinkedIn and other social media sources to get their background information and to learn what role they play at their current company. If you know what the product/service is that you’ll be discussing, look for competitor products or services to get a sense of the market.
Next, plan the agenda for the meeting. Set the agenda based on the amount of time allocated. Typically, an hour will be sufficient to allow for the exchange of information needed to move forward, but if you only have half an hour, make the most of it with a tight agenda that covers the essentials.
Send the agenda in advance so that your prospective client gets the roadmap for the meeting and can prepare to bring any information needed. The agenda need not be formal: an email with a bulleted list of talking points or topics should suffice, unless you feel that the situation requires something more formal.
Often there is little or no specific product information to share at this point because NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) have likely not been signed. But it may be appropriate to want to discuss the project in general terms at this first meeting, and if that requires an NDA, request that one be sent to you to sign in advance of the meeting.
Finally, if the meeting is face to face, think about what to wear. I know that sounds silly but first impressions matter. Regardless of how your prospective clients will be dressed, you should choose business attire, whether formal or informal. Dressing professionally signals to your prospective client that you are taking the occasion to meet seriously.
Phase 2: Conduct the new UX client meeting
This is your meeting, so take charge. That doesn’t mean dominate the meeting. Instead, it means that you should kick off the meeting to set a professional tone by referring to the agenda. The first item on the agenda should be introductions. You want to get to know them and you want them to get to know you.
This is your opportunity to emphasize your skills and experience. Don’t be shy about sharing your credentials, briefly, and if you have a leave-behind to support your credentials, you can distribute it now. If not, you can share your business card if you have it. As well, you want to learn about them. Let them tell you what they want to say about themselves, but find ways to engage in this process by sharing what you have learned about them and the company in your homework phase in preparation for the meeting.
In part 2 of this blog, we move into the substance of your meeting, which uses the 3 stages: