Setting up an Informal Meeting
Setting Up an Informational Meeting
Remember that when you're setting up an informational meeting you're simply seeking information. You are in control of the meeting because you're the one asking all the questions.
Ideally, as a result of your meeting, you hope to uncover either some problem the company has that you can solve with your product or service that results in a great business opportunity.
Decision Makers will generally consent to an informational meeting if they feel they can trust you not to hound them for a way to keep pushing your product or service. You need to make this fact clear to them over the phone when you call to request your meeting.
I suggest you try to set up your informational meeting over the phone or video call first. As a fallback, you can do so via email or snail mail, but only as a secondary approach. The reason is that you are able to build more of a relationship over the phone than you can through an impersonal piece of correspondence. The more visible you make yourself as a person, the more you work the new business search process to your benefit.
Following is an example of the type of dialogue you can modify when reaching out for an informational interview via phone:
Hello, Mr. Hawkins, my name is Eleanor Sweet. Do you have a real quick minute, or have I caught you at a bad time? (If you have the name of a referral, now would be the time to mention it.)
This verbiage sets the tone of the conversation by showing you respect the individual and their time. You establish that you are interested in them and not just yourself.
I just want you to know that I do not expect you to buy from me when we meet, a purchase order, or a favor of any kind. I have learned that you know a lot about this industry/product area/area of expertise and marketplace. I am hoping you can provide me with some helpful information. I would appreciate that very much.
Would you be able to give me 15 to 20 minutes tomorrow morning around 8:15 A.M.? Or Wednesday afternoon around 1:15 P.M.?
Listen; do not interrupt. Also, make sure you are the last one to hang up the phone at the end of the conversation. It sets a subtle tone of courtesy if you hang up last.
Now that you've secured a meeting, go out and conduct more in-depth research on the organization you'll be meeting with. You need to be prepared for your meeting. If you can, go out and physically see the company's product, do some store checks, and/or locate the firm's customers.
When you are fully informed about the company you're meeting with, you'll come across as more intelligent and professional. Your answers will be more informed because you've done your homework. You will not be wasting your business meeting partner's time with dumb questions.