Forgetting that meetings in an enterprise environment are different.
A few months after I launched 356labs, we were invited on a meeting with the CHRO (Chief Humman Resources Officer) of one of the biggest telecommunications company in Bulgaria because they were interested in the presentation design service we offer + a training on a storytelling.
Great, right? Indeed it is great to hear that companies that big have interest in your services. The problem was that I understood from the person who invited us that “we were only about to meet with CHRO”. Whatever that meant in my mind…
What I completely forgot is how corporate works. And I have worked in a corporate for 3 years. I should have remembered…
In a corporate environment and when you have a C-level executive with you on a meeting, you should have a really important word in mind — time. Because time is precious to those individuals(and to everyone of us nowadays), there is a pre-defined agenda, let’s call it, on meetings like this. So even though I thought we are “going to just meet”, the 30 minute meeting didn’t exactly go like this.
When the CHRO arrived at the room, she was one of those executives that displays 0 emotions on her face. Normal for the corporate world, I told myself. The interesting part was just about to start, though. She sat on her chair and directly fired her 1 question at me and that question and my respective answer screwed up the whole meeting. What she asked was something really simple and something that I should have expected knowing we are in such environment:
What is the goal of this meeting? — she asked.
This question, for some reason, threw me off guard. I don’t remember what exactly I responded, but let me promise you that I didn’t answer in the below fashion:
We are here to help you communicate more effectively. It really is that simple. We know and understand your presentation challenges and we are happy that you invited us because we are the team that you are looking for.
That… was not my answer and because it was not my answer all that followed was… not as good as it could have been.
The moral of the story — make sure you know what to expect on every meeting and prepare well. And I mean very well.
Have you been on a customer meeting which didn’t go as you expected it?