How NOT To Turn A Coffee Date Into A Client

Part of my recent strategy that’s been responsible for doubling my small business revenue in half a year has been having coffee dates with potential leads. This has been working so well for me that I thought I’d make a list of the things that DON’T WORK that I’ve run into over the past year. To be clear, I’m talking about having coffee dates with potential business leads, not social ones (although you might want to take the same advice for that too..hmm)
1. Tell Your Coffee Date That You Find Their “Beauty” Distracting
No joke, this happened to me today. It’s the inspiration for the whole blog actually. I asked my husband what he’d say if someone he was meeting with told him that. He laughed and said he’d give them $50 bucks to thank them. I wasn’t laughing though.
2. Talk Too Much About Yourself
I had a coffee date with a Virtual Assistant. The date could’ve gone either way, I could’ve hired her or she could’ve hired me since we both needed and were in the market for each others’ services. But would she stop talking about herself and her problems long enough to ask ME what I even did for a living? Nope. I decided that I didn’t want her to be a client OR a service provider for me. The sweetest word in any language is the sound of someone’s own name, come on people!
3. Talk Too Much Period
A coffee date with a potential client lead is an opportunity to find out about their pain and about what they perceive to be the barrier to their dreams. If you’re too busy talking, you’re not listening. In professional coach training, we are told to shut up 80% of the length of the conversation. It’s actually a great rule of thumb for most business and sales people.
4. Treat It Like A Social Date
If you don’t spend the coffee date finding out about my business needs and how you can help me, then you’re just there to chug coffee. As my mean bootcamp workout instructor yells at us, this is not tap dance class. Similarly, this is not a social date, it’s a business meeting taking place at a convenient Starbucks near you.
5. Leave Without Closing The Sale
I’ve found that the biggest opportunity to close the sale is in that actual coffee meeting. Sure, some will want to check my references and some will need to arrange financing but before we leave, I should either have your credit card information or a clear understanding of the reason for your decision not to buy. You will never have as big an opportunity to close your lead again.
Coffee shops and leads go hand in hand these days. As I wait for a new lead to arrive at a Starbucks, sometimes I listen to the conversations around me and I’m astounded that very few are personal. This is such an indication that small business is not only alive and well but is actually saving the world economy right in front of our very eyes. So take my hard earned wisdom to heart and start turning coffee dates into paying clients.
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  1. Wendy Vineyard

    Really good post Chala! I think people want to be nice when it’s better to be caring and focussed on what I’ve heard called ‘proactive service’ (heart-centered selling). I’m working on getting comfortable with this now.

    • Chala Dincoy

      Thanks Wendy, it’s always a fine line isn’t it?

  2. Julia Wooster

    Excellent post – I’m bookmarking it.

    • Chala Dincoy

      Thanks Julia, go have coffee with a prospect now!


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About Chala

Chala Dincoy is a Marketing Strategist who helps B2B service providers reposition their marketing message to successfully sell to corporate clients