As an entrepreneur, we are faced with the wonderful task of hosting very many business luncheons, as we aim to wow our potential customers with why doing business with us will be their best decision yet.
Here is a recent interview that I did with the BBC Business News on the Pratfalls of the Business Luncheon.
1. What do you find is the best way to tackle the challenge of “who pays” – is this something discussed, for example, before the lunch, or handled when the check comes? Is there an implied or agreed upon turn-taking? What are some of the big challenges in this area?
As the owner of Camilita Nuttall and Event of Champions® I often do business luncheons with prospective clients, potential sponsors and/or customers. Who is paying or should pay for lunch is one of the trickiest things that is often or never discussed generally. In order to determine who pays I do my due diligence as to who that client is, what can they bring to my business, who are their connections (because you might need them too) and what other companies like mine they have supported. I would sometimes contact some of those companies to ask about the luncheon and who paid (if I know them well enough) or other parties who have done business with them to find out what the protocol is.
Research is key as I don’t want to seem cheap or be a giver. Sometimes depending on the discussion before the meeting, especially if I am travelling from far to meet them and they know that, I then suggest lunch is on them. If, however we are both meeting in a mutual location and distance/travel time, then I suggest we split the check.
The biggest challenges in this area are the choice of restaurant, expensive or not, what to eat (if it’s a full-blown lunch or just salad), not sounding cheap or able to pick up the check, looking like your business in not profitable enough to do so and relying on the other party to offer first. Also, if the business owner is much richer than you, don’t just assume that they should pay, again after much research, you can offer or wait or discuss at the time of booking the appointment. Being upfront in business, even over lunch can show the other potential business client or partner that you are upfront and can be trusted to make decisions quickly with transparency.
2. Do you believe alcohol at a lunch meeting is OK; why or why not?
It depends on the lunch meeting. If that meeting will be just 1 hour or perhaps over a few hours, you might want to have one glass of wine or something light, not anything to cloud your judgement. Again, do your research, ask the question from day one. Do they drink, or ask their preference and don’t be afraid to. Alcohol for most people is not appropriate for just a 1 hour luncheon especially if you have to drive back to work or get back to mounting tasks but this is a decision that must be made depending on time, outside circumstances or just due diligence about the person you are having lunch with.
3. How do you typically handle the choice of restaurant – what type of establishment do you find is most suitable, or not suitable, and what if there’s a difference of opinion of venue?
The choice in restaurant all depends on location for both parties, however I always prefer somewhere quieter so we can at least hear each other. Bars and noisy restaurants for me are not suitable, cheap or messy looking places for me are a no no. The choice of restaurant for me matches the image of my business and brand and my Event of Champions® and Camilita Nuttall brands are more high-end and offer a particular standard to my clients when they come through the door so that must be maintained even where I am meeting potential clients/partners.
Hotels like a 4 star and above – Marriott, Hilton or similar standard are sufficient however, there are various other places that may be sufficient depending on location and choice. If there is a difference of opinion, I firmly suggest we meet in a mutually beneficial location.
4. Are there foods you feel should be on the “no fly” list? (e.g. smelly foods, messy foods, noisy foods?)
As far as foods are concerned, I find out first (especially if I did the invitation) if that potential client or business partner has any dietary requirements, religious preferences or choice of food. Again, that potential client’s dietary or religious preference may be noisey, messy or smelly. For me it’s about making that client feel that I respect them, their needs, their choice. I want to show respect for their culture because in some situations if you can show respect in that way, you have gotten the deal even before you engage in facts and benefits of your product or service.
5. How much non-business talk do you think is obligatory, necessary, acceptable, or warranted? What should be on the “no fly” conversation list?
This is one thing I teach as part of my 7 Steps to 7 Figure Sales® training program. Always, always ask about that person first, their lives, business, likes and dislikes etc. be interested in them. People can tell if you are not interested in them and only money. Again, it’s important you are aware of personality types. Out of the four personality types, some don’t like small talk, just get to the point. Others want you to be interested in them and make it fun, even in business, others are not bothered what you say as long as your brand or product can make it easy for their business needs or service to flourish. First analyse who you are talking with.
The key though is being interested in them, ask a lot of questions to better understand their needs. In sales, and this I teach, if you ask enough questions people will tell you exactly what they need, then all you have to do is show them how you will fill that need or solve that problem, result!
For me absolutely no sex, politics, religion, bad talking other people or companies, negatives about your own company or theirs (even if you know it, except if you are going to share a solution and if a solution is asked for), no body image issues or how to solve their problems especially when they have not shared what they are (if you are implying from the research you have done or read in the paper or internet). A BIG NO, NO! Remember they have taken their time out to meet with you and vice versa so value each other’s time by keeping it professional.
6. What was the best business lunch you’ve been to and why? What made it good?
Now with the Event of Champions® and Camilita Nuttall brands, I put on various events monthly to help entrepreneurs grow, develop and expand a global brand and make it profitable. I also help executives, entrepreneurs and business owners to increase their sales with my 7 Steps and 5 Tier program. As a result of this I meet with various 5 star hotels and venues in London and around the UK to discuss the possibility of using their facility. My goal is that the business I will bring to their facility will help both of us initially and in the long term.
The best business lunch I’ve been to was meeting with the manager of a five star hotel in Kensington London about the possibility of hosting 12+ events for all of 2017, a sizeable amount of business for him as most of the events included lunch, teas and coffees, plus room hire for my delegates and bedroom bookings.
We discussed over the phone why we needed to meet as their price increase from the year before was not suitable for my business to make sufficient profit. I suggested we meet face to face to discuss, he agreed. I then said I live 3 hours from the hotel and that I was driving 6 hours for a 1 hour meeting just with him alone. He then suggested that lunch was on him, I said I think that is appropriate, we both laughed and the meeting was set.
We met at that same hotel in a quiet location. We spoke for about 15 mins, again my sales training coming into play, I asked him about him, his family life, how long he’s been with the hotel, why the sudden price hike etc, etc. We then got into why we were there and that was to get a huge reduction on the price as we have been a loyal customer. He explained and we then came to a mutually beneficial price that suited both of us. We left with a 60% reduction on the price of the venue etc. Result!
What made this luncheon good? For starters, we agreed to listen to each other, meet in a mutually beneficial location, agreed to leave with both of us happy with the price and continue with a discussion always if we are not happy with anything.
7. Contrastingly, the worst, and why?
The worst business luncheon I’ve had was a meeting with a potential client who was totally uninterested in my business and did not even know what I did. He was late, wanted me to pay, ordered the best and biggest thing on the menu and to be honest was more interested in me supporting him than us supporting each other. He had no money and no interest. I had not done my due diligence at all and ‘assumed’ he had influence or money to buy or get started with me in business. Now that’s not to say I will not engage with someone if they have no money but if they have influence, but no money and no influence is just a recipe for disaster.
My mantra is ‘If It’s Not Making Money, It’s Not Making Sense’. This I tell my clients because if you are in business to make money, then that statement applies. I suggested to that potential client / business partner that he needs to take my 7 Steps to 7 Figure Sales® Training Program to change what he was doing and start making money quick if he wants to engage with me. Time wasted but lesson learnt.
8. Without incriminating specifics, is there a story or an interaction during a business luncheon that you felt was rude, faux pas or objectionable?
There was this one business luncheon with a very successful business owner that was direct, to the point and a bit strange. He kept talking about other people, putting their business down, trying to put my business down and saying that he should be doing what I’m doing as he has more experience, is more successful and has more contacts. I asked him why then are you not doing it? ‘It was not his thing’, he said, then I said, ‘why criticise someone else if you are not willing to do it yourself’?
He went on by challenging my motives, why I think my way would work and how he can make it better. Alarm bells went off straight away as he never spent time understanding my business model or what I was doing. I ended the meeting with thank you for your time and have a wonderful day.
9. What’s something that people, only after experience, tend to understand more about having a business lunch?
The biggest thing that most people understand only after a business lunch is don’t talk too much, allow the other person to tell you their problems first. Also, don’t share too much. I see so many entrepreneurs giving away their value, good advice and services to potential customers. They think if they talk and share and give value that the more they gave the more that person will want to hire them. I believe in giving but not too much. Give enough so they are left wanting more. Also, not every luncheon will result in a sale or contract, it’s OK. At the lunch, ask for referrals tactfully because if they say no you at least have a few more people you can contact after that luncheon. No is not final, it may mean not today or not yet.
As part of my 7 Figure Sales Training I teach the power of referrals and follow up. This is where most entrepreneurs fail. They think that the end of the luncheon is the end of the client or partner relationship. The follow up process is where you make BIG MONEY so BAMFAM (Book a meeting from that meeting), this is explained in my sales program.
Finally, leave that potential client with reasons why they should want to do business with you or refer you to their clients or contacts and please, please, please let them know you are busy, always! Also offer to give something in return for their help or perhaps offer to give something first, it can open up new ways for them to refer you even if they are not interested as if they see you are a giver they would want to give to you too, not always but it’s worth a shot. More information can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or www.eventofchampions.com or by connecting with me on Social Media FB, LI, TW, G+, YT, INSTA.