On Monday morning, we found our Biz Dev guy Nicholas Gerard rummaging through the office trash bin for a used coffee cup. We asked him why and he told us this story.
In my 6 years of being in business development and sales, I have come to understand the importance of having productive meetings. Be it a sales meeting to iron out details and make the close or just a preliminary meeting to get to know a potential client, I make it a point to perfect every face-to-face encounter I have.
One huge factor that affect the quality of a meeting is the environment.
So if I can’t select the venue for the meeting, I do everything within my power to set up the space to be as conducive as possible.
This brings us to my “dumpster-dive” on Monday.
A potential partner I have been trying to secure a meeting with decided to have our first discussion at a cafe near my office. Now unlike most cafes, this Japanese pour over coffee chain cafe is not very friendly to digital nomads or professionals looking to escape the office setting while sipping a cup of java.
These coffee connoisseurs are all about the specially crafted $9 lattes and minimalist interior design, hence, their limited seating was only designed for customers to grab and go. Knowing that my client wanted specifically to have coffee at this cafe, I knew I had to get there early to chope one of four tables with benches situated outside the cafe.
On top of limited seats, this particular cafe attracts long queues, making it difficult to reserve a table without ordering a drink first.
…and if I had to order a drink, I would also have to wait for about 15 minutes to have my order prepared, before I could secure a place to sit.
…and once I found a table, my drink would have turned cold while waiting for my client to arrive.
…and it won’t look good to be seen having a drink before he gets here.
Wracking my brain for a solution, I recalled that I bought coffee from this same cafe, a couple of days ago and disposed the take-away cup in the office’s rubbish bin.
Quickly, I searched the bin, grabbed the paper cup, gave it a good wash in the office sink, filled it with some water for weight and then headed to the cafe where I hurriedly walked past the entrance and fortunately got the perfect table being vacated by a friendly couple.
Luckily, the couple left behind their receipt! I kept it as proof of purchase in case the cafe staff questioned me for sitting there (they didn’t).
With the used cup and receipt in hand, I was able to secure the most ideal seat for my meeting. I had my back towards the pillar and the sun was facing away from my client’s view.
Twenty minutes later, he arrived.
And yes, I bought a fresh cup of coffee. In a new cup, of course!
To know if an environment is meeting-friendly, I often ask myself these questions:
- If it is in a cafe, do large groups of people or families with young kids frequent it?
- Will it be noisy during the timing of your meeting to the point we can barely hear each other?
- Does the venue’s lighting suffice to set a more corporate or casual mood depending on the type of meeting I am organising?
- Is there access to power points and stable WIFI for that presentation I need to load or a website I need to show?
Once all of these points are checked, I then focus my attention to where my client sits. As much as possible, I make it a point to sit with my back facing the wall so that my client will not be distracted by anything going on behind me.
In the end, the client ended our discussion by saying it was a great meeting, and there are definite ways we can work together. We will meet again.
It may seem like a tall tale to tell but these are the lengths that I will go to to ensure that the meeting with a productive and conducive one. A carefully planned out meeting is a nod of respect to both our time and effort.
And if I had to, I would do it all over again.
Editor’s Note: Nicholas Gerard is trusted with developing business for Peatix but not with taking out the trash.