Take your customers and prospects to lunch and bond with them in a pleasant, non-office atmosphere. A lot of customers enjoy getting out of the office for lunch without going to a fast-food joint. Getting to know buyers does wonders for repeat business and many first-time orders. They may let down their guard and give you hints for how to get more business from their company. Networking is the name of the game. Here are some ideas to make your business lunch a winner:
- Select a restaurant where other businesspeople go (not a truck stop, for example, although the food might be better there).
- Invite your guests a couple of days in advance so they can get it on their schedules.
- Make a reservation, preferably a little before noon so you’ll miss the crowd.
- Offer to pick up your guests or meet them there—let them decide.
- Leave your cell phone in the car so you can give your guests your full attention.
- Let your guests be the first to order and then follow with a similar type of item.
- If your guests ask what you recommend, suggest a mediumpriced item.
- Don’t order messy foods, such as barbecued ribs or fried chicken.
- Don’t let your guests eat alone—order something even if you’re not hungry.
- Limit alcohol to one drink or none.
- Don’t argue with your server if your order is not perfect—it makes the experience tense.
- Make sure your table manners are faultless.
- Talk about personal things first and get to know your guests. You may find out some things that will help you later.
- Bring up products and sales near the end of the meal, when your guests are feeling comfortable and know that they will be leaving soon.
- Don’t make your guests feel as if they owe you an order just because you bought lunch.
- As you’re leaving, ask your guests when you can get back to them in reference to your products or services or an order.
- Try to set up another business meeting before you leave them.
- Write down when they want you to call or stop in next and do it at exactly that time, and you might open a few doors to getting their business.
You’re probably going to eat anyway, so why not give your lunch a chance to be profitable? You will enjoy some people more than others, so invite those you enjoy more frequently if your budget can afford it.
Breakfast is also a good time for a meal with most customers and prospects, because they won’t have anything come up before they meet you, and they’re less likely to cancel. A pleasant restaurant near their office is best and easiest for them. Networking and friendly encounters such as these with buyers can lead to referrals and ensure repeat business.