In my sector, operations teams or account management staff are usually the ones in charge of delivery to a client once the sales people have danced off into the sunset clutching their commission cheques.
The ops teams might be brilliant at ensuring technical delivery, but they are left to work out how to handle important clients for themselves, meaning that mistakes can be crushingly public.
These are my 7 Tips to help you stay in control of the conference call with even the most domineering client.
1. Prepare the agenda and circulate it prior to the call with timings and names and roles of all the contributors.
2. In larger meetings, nominate a colleague to act as a ‘wingman’ and ask them to stay in control of certain aspects such as checking off the participants who join the meeting so you know when are ready to start or checking the questions on IM as they come in.
3. Open with a strong, friendly introduction; explain your role and your involvement in the project. Use your voice to assert yourself; be clear, firm and purposeful. Yes, you will need to practice this and be ready to smile and introduce yourself without stammering in any situation.
"Hello, I’m Jo and I’m co-ordinating this project so please copy me in on all emails and I’ll keep the project on track and to time. Do come to me with any queries and I’ll either find the answer or put you in touch with the right person."
4. Clarify what you think has been said as you go along. It’s easy to misunderstand something but feel stupid asking a client to explain what they mean. In the long run even a daft question is better than misunderstanding the key expectations of the project.
5. Use names before you ask a question to get attention and give people notice that you are speaking to them, “John, are we ready to start the next phase of the campaign”
6. Summarise the key points that you have understood at the end of each call and make sure that action points are agreed and circulated after the call.
7. Thank the contributors, it establishes you as the leader of the call and signals a clear end to the meeting.