Do you know what they say? You will know about a person in an hour of play than in a day of conversation. Whenever you can’t quite put your finger on a business client, the best solution is to take them playing—whether that be basketball, tennis, golf, or bowling. Get on a court together or even play some billiards, and you’ll get a glimpse of who this person really is. Admittedly, this is not a perfect formula, and this shouldn’t be the basis for you to strike a deal with a client. What it does is give you a guide on how you’re going to negotiate with the client.
Formal meetings might be the route of almost all businessmen, but it does leave something to be desired because negotiations in formal settings tend to be unbending. This is why the perfect strategy is to take them out for a drink or dinner. This way, they will be friendlier toward the terms of the agreement. So what are the options for businesspeople who want to take their clients out for a night of revelry? How will they make sure they let loose a bit to make them more flexible in the negotiation process?
Play Sports with the Company Employees
Don’t you have a teambuilding activity coming up? Or maybe it is time to organize one? Why don’t you invite clients over? There are two benefits to this: one, it gives you time to talk with them in a casual setting; and two, they will get to know your organization better when they see everyone being loose and ready to play during these events.
You can rent a bowling alley and play duckpin bowling with your clients. This is a casual sports activity that almost everyone loves to do. On the side, serve cold bottles of beer and finger food. Though you might not necessarily close the deal right there and then, it will give you enough time to get to know the clients.
Eat at a Casual but Trendy Restaurant
The worst thing to do is take the clients out for dinner in a fine dine-in restaurant. Although it is advisable to treat clients out to a nice lunch or dinner after the negotiations are over, it is not the best course of action when you are just in the middle of the process. Take them to dinner in a casual but trendy restaurant. If you take them to a five-star fine dining restaurant, that is similar to meeting with them in a conference room in the office. You will still be in a formal setting, and they will still be unbending to their rules.
Look for a trendy restaurant in your town. Something hip and casual is what you should look for. But the restaurant should not be cheap and crowded, so stay away during peak hours. For example, you can schedule the dinner during weekdays so that you can talk and discuss matters without having to scream over the sound of a crowded restaurant.
Eat at Home
Maybe this isn’t the best way to deal with someone who is not your official partner in the business yet. However, inviting clients over to your home will show that you are serious about the negotiations you are entering into. Invite them over for dinner and some drinks. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top. A good, old-fashioned home meal will help your clients relax enough to see that you are more than just your professional persona—you are, above all, a family man who’s doing what’s best for his loved ones. Dinner at home will humanize you.
Drink at a Karaoke Bar
Finally, if you think your clients are too stiff and formal, why not take them to a karaoke bar so you can drink the night away? It’s a different feeling to have fun with someone you are negotiating a business deal with. However, a karaoke night will help take away your inhibitions. You can let loose, and your clients can be a little freer, too. There’s nothing like painting the town red for you and your clients to bond and trust each other more.
Business negotiations don’t need to be formal all the time. In fact, formal negotiations tend to be unbending even to the most modest and practical of changes. Taking your clients out for dinner is a typical business transaction. You will be surprised by the progress you can make when you invite them over for dinner or play sports with them.