6 strategies to improve your client meetings – while you are in reception!

Success in recruiting is all about doing a lot of small things… very well.

Pretty much all recruiters follow the same process. We screen, we interview, we match, we meet clients, and we engineer scores of mini interactions which stitch the whole thing together.

So, experience has taught me that getting the best outcome depends on making sure that you are just that little bit better than your competitors during each step of the process. Believe me, in this business you must strive to give yourself every tiny advantage you can. There are no 2nd prizes in recruitment. You either fill the job, or you don’t.

Let’s take client visiting as an example.

Not the actual visit itself. That is a massive topic, for another day.

But what about the 10 minutes you wait in reception for your client to greet you? Do you waste that time? Do you daydream, thinking about what to have for dinner tonight? Mindlessly read the magazine on the table in front of you? Remember, success is about giving yourself any advantage you can. So what can you do during those 10 minutes that will make a difference? How about these little tactics?

  • Firstly, engage with the receptionist. Have a chat, build rapport. If appropriate, ask a few questions. Maybe you learn that he is a temp. Could that be interesting to you? What other great information will he share as you chat for 5 minutes? Not only that, the receptionist can become your greatest ally. Make sure you get to know her, win her over, and next time you call, you will be put straight through.
  • Pay attention. Listen to the incoming calls. Listen to the conversations of staff members as they walk through the reception. What can you learn about the company, and its culture, and the staff and their interaction? Can that help you during the client meeting itself? Could it assist you in making a cultural match? Can it help you sell the company, to a potential candidate?
  • Read the visitors book. Yes, I know, a little controversial. But I don’t care! I want to know who has been visiting the company recently. And guess what? If the visitors book is full of other recruiters, that’s good news! In all likelihood, that means there are jobs to be had there. Fish where the fish are.
  • Take what you can. No, don’t steal stuff. But yes, do pick up the newsletters, brochures, the pamphlets. Information is power and the more you know about this company, its products, services and its activities, the better. It can only help your credibility in the meeting about to start, right?
  • Read the walls. That’s it. Look for mission statements on the wall, look for awards, read the announcements, jot down the name of the employee of the month. There is so much to be learned. It will help you later.
  • Prepare your small talk. No matter what type of meeting you are about to have, it is inevitable that it will start with a bit of small talk. Prepare yours. Please, make sure it’s not inane waffle about the weather. A good, confident, intelligent start will set up a great meeting. Prepare a couple of comments or questions that are topical and show that you are ‘on your game’. For example, as you walk with your client to his office, “I was fascinated to read you are opening a new branch in North Sydney Mr. Client. How is that progressing?” Small talk, sure. But smart small talk, because guess what? By the time you are sitting down… the meeting has started… and you are driving it.

Information is power. Winning in recruitment is a matter of inches. You just have to be that little bit better to take the main prize. Use every ounce of leverage you can to give yourself an advantage

Even when you’re sitting in the reception.


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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13 Responses to 6 strategies to improve your client meetings – while you are in reception!

  1. John June 12, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Greg, another great one is logging in as your competitor to the computer that gives you your visitors tag, to see who they have been meeting with.

    And I ALWAYS read the visitors book.

  2. Teri Moxham June 12, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Greg ! I generally advise my consultants NOT to sit in reception, but to be standing and available when the client walks in ! Able to browse and peruse. Professional start – on the same level ! Your thoughts?

    • Greg Savage June 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Actually Teri, its funny you should raise that because I totally agree, and I have coached my staff on the same thing. I left that tip out of the blog because I thought it might be a bit idiosyncratic..but it seems others, like you, feel the same way!
      I think it looks impressive and businesslike when the client arrives, and also saves that awkward moment when you get stuck in your chair and can’t get up fast enough…

  3. John Lambert June 12, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    thanks Greg, yes engaging with the receptionist is often under rated as they are often very well respected and knowledgeable long term employees that will help you connect with staff

  4. Angela Giacoumis June 12, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    A great post, never underestimate the power of being well prepared. It’s all about playing the game like a champion, the question we all need to ask ourselves is what are you doing that others aren’t, be brilliant in the basics, its the little things that count in helping to develop a strategic competitive advantage…

  5. Alan June 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    What I have started to do now for new clients I have never visited before is to take a small package or gift (whatever you want to call it) for the receptionist. Be prepared to either give to them or not give it to them depending on the response on gets.
    it maybe a stress ball, coaster (smart coaster), small desk caledar or pens etc with your company name etc on it!. It really makes them feel special. Always make sure one obtains their name for after the meeting or when one calls again by phone etc.
    I have also enquired is Joe Bloe still head of engineering and that way I am securing the other current contacts for each division.
    Sometimes you don’t have much time so one should utilise every second..
    I always thank the receptionist in the presence of the client I am meeting so they hear good comments about their staff. it helps a lot.
    Good subject Greg….

  6. Andy Young June 12, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    All good stuff, though one thing I’d add – don’t assume the receptionist is female!

    • Greg Savage June 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

      True Andy, in my defence however, please have a close look at what I wrote “Firstly, engage with the receptionist. Have a chat, build rapport. If appropriate, ask a few questions. Maybe you learn that he is a temp.” 🙂

  7. Tracy Wright June 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Hi Greg, I’ve just spent 6 days training some very ‘senior’ consultants how to conduct powerful client meetings and blimey did they all need some tips and help on small talk!

  8. Tony June 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Don’t forget to fill your pockets with all the business cards on the reception desk, you never know where your next passive candidate will come from.
    Great article Greg

  9. Gowan Clews June 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    Much of this applies to job candidates too. Another wise and informative article, Greg

  10. James June 13, 2012 at 1:53 am #

    Definitely make sure you engage with the receptionist. One client of mine had a receptionist / gatekeeper who one time mentioned to me it was her birthday when ringing through – made sure I noted it down and gave her a call the next year. It did freak her out slightly but she did appreciate it…
    This goes doubly for candidates – I know of a few managers who will specifically ask the receptionist what they thought of the candidate, how did they treat them etc.

    Agree on the ‘standing up in reception’ tip, particularly if the reception has leather chairs that may give you sweaty suit trousers – never a good start to a meeting!

  11. Raghavendra September 7, 2015 at 2:09 am #

    Hi Greg,

    A good read and reinforced couple of must do’s.

    I ensure that I speak to candidates, if any during my visit time, to find out about them, position they have applied for and the hiring manager who has set up the interview. It has immensely helped me to understand the roles and if I have missed out on any opportunity.

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