Far too much time is wasted in coffee shop meetings.
Sure, it feels great to meet someone over coffee to discuss potential business opportunities.
But, when you get there, more often than not, the conversation falls off topic, interruptions cause distractions and, before you know it, the meeting is over and you’ve achieved nothing.
That’s what Antony Gaddie calls a Coffee and Doughnut meeting.
You get a coffee and… zero. (The hole in your doughnut.)
Antony knows a thing or two about marketing, business development and having meetings in coffee shops. He’s the creator of the Gaddie Pitch. He’s the founder of Green Ant Marketing and he shared with us (over coffee) five things that you can do to help you make the most of your coffee shop meetings.
And, in the course of his career, he has closed over $83 million in businesses and is now sharing his knowledge in his current position as CEO at Green Ant Marketing.
So, it’s time to make your coffee shop meetings worth your time (and their’s) by following these steps.
1. Plan your meetings
Always plan ahead.
Very often, people end up achieving nothing from the meeting because they don’t provide a structure to the meeting, and they don’t think and plan before the meeting.
It’s a good starting point for a good coffee shop meeting to get the planning right.
So, what exactly do you have to plan?
Research… whoever you’re meeting with.
It’s good to get to know a bit about your coffee date before you even meet.
Look them up, check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook, or view their website.
If possible, ask someone who knows about them.
This will give you a better idea on how to connect with them and build rapport, and direct which way you want the meeting to go. When you have a certain connection or affiliation in what they do and what they’re passionate about, it is easier to connect on a personal level.
Take action: Do your research and take some time to look into the person’s LinkedIn, Facebook, website and other social media to know their background, where they’ve worked, their hobbies, and goals.
2. Build rapport
Your first questions should not be invasive and should address general topics about the business. This will let them know where you’re coming from and that your intentions are good.
Spend five minutes making small talk to break the ice. But no more than that!
If you’ve done your research, it will be good to talk about topics related to the things you’ve gathered from their profiles, including, as mentioned above, their background, hobbies and goals.
Take action: Use this time and phase of the meeting to get to know the other person better by giving them a chance to get to know you as well. This is essential to any business relationship if you intend it to be a more meaningful journey for both of you.
3. Ask about more important matters
After some small talk, you can proceed with the more serious topics.
Antony Gaddie injects the same few questions into every meeting.
The first (and most important) is all about establishing the goals of the person you are meeting with. However, in most situations, your coffee date won’t intuitively know what their goals are.
This might sound weird but most people are caught in a cycle of short-term goal setting.
So, rather than simply asking, “What are some of your goals?” (when you really want to know, specifically, what their goals are in 6 to 12 months), you can reframe the question and say, “In other words, how would you know in 6 to 12 months from now that it’s time to celebrate?”
This will help you lead the conversation onto the topic of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). It will immediately give you a clearer picture about what matters the most to the person you are meeting.
After posing this question, as logical follow up, then enquire, “If those are your goals, what will stop you achieving those goals? What obstacles are likely to slow you down?”
This combination of questions will help you identify what topics are important and what problems you may be able to solve, by providing your own services or by recommending others.
Take action: Make sure you write down the questions you would like to ask, before the meeting. This way, you don’t get caught off guard by your own inquiries. Keep it as friendly and comfortable as possible. Framing it positively is the key.
HOT TIP: Always pose these two questions…
“In 6 to 12 months from now, how will you know that it’s time to celebrate?” “If those are your goals, what will stop you achieving those goals? What obstacles are likely to slow you down?”
4. End the meeting with a win-win scenario
Once your coffee guest has shared with you their goals and challenges, it’s time for you to suggest ways that you can help or add value. Do not offer a full proposal or complex solution on the spot. Instead, just test the possibilities. “If you I do the following, would that be helpful?”
Most people, when they get to the end of a meeting, they suddenly go into “close the deal mode”. Have I got a deal for you? Let’s work together. Antony shares with us a different approach.
Instead of rushing to close the deal, the first meeting should be about building rapport, getting to know your potential client or partner and give them the opportunity to get to know you as well.
At the end of the meeting, it’s more important to attempt to identify easy wins for each other.
Antony is quick to point out that we are not proposing this question: “How can I create some wins for you?” (or vice versa). You want to treat all your meetings, whether they’re with potential clients or potential partners, as an equal opportunity for both to get value.
Always treat prospects as peers. (In fact, even the word ‘prospect’ creates an unbalanced relationship in your mind. Antony suggests that you remove it from your vocabulary.)
It’s not your job to create a master and slave relationship (where you are the slave). Instead, ask the question, “After what we’ve discovered today, what might the wins be?” Explore the options from there.
Antony has made it clear that he will not work with you unless he sees an opportunity to create a bigger and stronger relationship. It’s about being selective and valuing other people’s time the way they should value yours. Don’t jump for anything but take the opportunity to engage.
Take action: Make them understand that you are genuinely seeking opportunities to help, but only if you see a win-win scenario for both parties for what you offer. Most importantly, mean it too.
5. Follow up after the meeting
Finally, if you want to stand out from the crowd and make something happen, make it a habit to follow up… within four hours. Add a note in your diary and follow up!
A lot of people follow up within a few days, so they don’t appear needy. So, you will definitely stand out if you follow up within the next three to four hours. It creates a positive impression and you will come across as responsive, keen and dependable. It’s different and very professional.
Take action: Always go back to the details of your meeting to review the key points so that when you make a follow-up, you will know how to proceed. Make it a habit to follow up within the first four hours after the meeting.
Antony Gaddie is passionate about supporting businesses to increase profit using less effort and budget. He has closed $83 million in businesses in his career and is now sharing his knowledge in his current position as CEO at Green Ant Marketing.