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How to Get a Meeting with a Prospective Consulting Client

Wouldn’t you like to plant yourself across the desk from a prospect who’s dripping with extra cash and happens to be afflicted with exactly the problem you solve? Of course you would.

Unfortunately, most executives don’t seem to leave puddles of money in their footsteps. Plus, it’s tough to know whose pain is burning fiercely enough that they want outside help.

You can quickly discover whether a prospect is high potential or a dud by sitting down face-to-face of a few minutes. That is, if you can convince them to meet with you. How do you lock in those meetings other than offering free tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals?

Let’s back up a quick step. (Making the “beep-beep” backing up sound at this point is preferable, but not required.)

Why meet with prospects in person at all?

Telephone conversations are typically more efficient, and you crank out conversations from New Jersey to New Delhi in one day—try doing that in person!

However, in-person meetings have their place.** There’s no better medium for forging strong relationships and cementing your value in a prospect’s mind. You’re also a truckload more likely to uncover high-potential consulting opportunities during an in-person conversation.

Since face-to-face meetings are powerful, but also time-intensive…

Reserve in-person meetings for the following circumstances:

  • When you’re already committed to being “in the neighborhood” and your itinerary leaves open blocks of time.
  • When you can schedule at least a handful of face-to-face conversations over a couple of days in a city you don’t mind visiting.

One more caveat: I’m assuming you already know the decision-makers you want to meet, or you’ve at least been introduced by someone whom they respect. This is not an approach for making cold-call pitch meetings. Cold-calls waste everyone’s time, and pitching disinterested prospects falls flatter than these little gals:

(Not my kids, by the way.)

Booking In-Person Meetings

So, here’s the scenario: you want to sit down, face-to-face to engage in conversation with a high-potential prospect that you already know or could be introduced to easily. For instance, you’re traveling to your client’s site and want to meet the CFO. Or your trip to Toronto is perfect for connecting with executives you met when you keynoted last year’s International Curling Association conference.

The key to securing a meeting is using a super-concise email. It looks something like this:

Hi Ronald. Are you in Toronto the week of June 15th? I’m going to be passing through, and it would be a perfect time to catch up for a few minutes in person.

That’s it. You don’t have to wade into long explanations or wax prolific about benefits or promise value. If they reply that they’re in town, then follow up with an equally quick, easy-to-process email:

Outstanding! We could grab a meal (my treat) or meet for a few minutes at your office. Grab any free slot on my calendar for that week by going to <link to your calendar>.

They book a time on your calendar and “boom!” you’re halfway to landing a new consulting project. No worries about overlapping meetings or everyone wanting to join you the one night you’re chowing down on Tandoori tofu.

On the other hand, if your prospect’s reply to your initial email indicates he won’t meet with you during your visit to Hogtown**, you follow up with another short email:

No worries. When’s a good time to connect by phone for 15 minutes? Grab any free slot on my calendar by going to <link to your calendar>.

Super short. Easy to react to, respond to and move into action.

Whether or not you book the in-person meeting, you’re creating conversations. Conversations are where relationships are built, opportunities are discussed and clients are won.

How else have you booked meetings with prospects?


  1. Sunil
    May 31, 2017 at 6:55 am Reply

    Hi David- in my experience, the prospective client is quite likely to ask for a meeting agenda, especially when the strength of the relationship is not very strong. Is ‘to catch up with you and hear the latest’ response ideal or is there any merit in sharing some specific areas of discussion.
    Thanks!, Sunil
    P.S.- Read your book once – already feel much more confident about the future! Am doing a second read currently.

    • David A. Fields
      May 31, 2017 at 7:04 am Reply

      Great question, Sunil. As you said, this depends on the strength of the relationship. If you’re meeting with your long-time pal, he won’t ask for an agenda, but if you’re approaching someone you met one time at a meeting, he might want to know the purpose. In that case, I’d reply with something like the following:

      Hi Ronald. You were one of the people I most enjoyed meeting at the Curling Association conference and since I’m passing through Toronto, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect in person. No explicit agenda other than to spend a few minutes getting to know each other better. On the other hand, if I can be of immediate service to you or there’s something you want to discuss, let’s absolutely put that front and center. Does that mean you’ll be in town? I’d love to see you. Grab whatever free slot works best for you on my schedule: .

      • Sunil
        May 31, 2017 at 1:11 pm Reply

        That response sounds really nice, David- thank you. Will be trying it out soon!

  2. Darcy Eikenberg
    May 31, 2017 at 7:53 am Reply

    What’s been your experience with automated scheduling systems vs offering times or to work with their assistant to schedule? I feel like if the client has to click through and do the work, it’s a barrier. I’d be interested in your experience. Thanks!

    • David A. Fields
      May 31, 2017 at 12:43 pm Reply

      I’m glad you asked that question, Darcy. Automated scheduling systems have increased my meeting close rate considerably. When you suggest a time or two to meet, the chances that those times will work with the prospect are slim. Then you’re caught in a back-and-forth discussion that can kill momentum. I’ve found that when you give prospects a link to click, they click it. (people like clicking links.) Net: scheduling tools are a big win for consultants.

  3. Alison Heller-Ono
    June 1, 2017 at 4:24 am Reply

    I agree David! I added an online schedule to my website a few weeks ago. I tried Calendly but too many conflicts. Then Schedule Once, which I like better. I have been able to arrange multiple calls with new prospective clients. I also put it on my email signature, so prospects can use easily. I’m really happy with how it increases my accessibility to my clients and prospects.

    • David A. Fields
      June 1, 2017 at 6:22 am Reply

      ScheduleOnce is what I use too, Alison, and I’ve found it to be an excellent tool for many purposes, including scheduling meetings with prospects, scheduling interviews for client fieldwork, and more. Thanks for adding your experience with a calendar link.

  4. Susan Pierson-Brown
    June 5, 2017 at 12:20 pm Reply

    David, you are a wizard! I used your concise email script above with a prospect who was referred to me weeks ago and who has been elusive about scheduling even a call. Just like that, we have an in-person meeting set up this week! Thanks so much. On another note, I began using Schedule Once recently (on your recommendation) and have seen great efficiencies from that as well. Thanks so much for all of your insights.

    • David A. Fields
      June 5, 2017 at 12:34 pm Reply

      Woo hoo! Outstanding, Susan. The credit goes to you for being persistent and for trying out something new. Good luck with the prospect this week. Go in Right-Side Up and you’ll be astounding, I’m sure.

      Thanks also for contributing your experience to the discussion.

  5. Joseph Wayne
    June 22, 2017 at 9:06 am Reply

    David thank you for this blog it is really helpful. I just have started my small marketing consulting firm and i would definitely use this approach to Schedule meeting with my clients.

    • David A. Fields
      June 22, 2017 at 9:36 am Reply

      Congratulations on launching your firm, Joseph. You’re in for an exciting ride. Let me know how you get on and feel free to reach out with questions–we have a very helpful community here.

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