How Do You Ask a Client to Lunch?
You are ready to invite a really BIG client out to lunch. You have the perfect “power lunch” spot picked out. You have your corporate expense account ready to roll. You just can’t figure out the best way to invite a client to lunch. You are not alone!
Seems many executives choke a bit when it comes to inviting a client out to lunch … and the bigger the client, the more anxiety about lunch. It’s really easy to invite a client to a business lunch – and you are only limited by your own creativity. I’m saving the VERY best method till the end – but don’t skip ahead. If you do, you’ll miss some great ways to get creative!
Imagine an executive’s secretary walks into his or her office around 11AM,
and sets a shiny gift bag on the exec’s desk. “This came for you just now.” Inside the shiny bag, the executive finds a brown paper bag. In the bag is a square, sandwich-sized container with a VERY dull sandwich inside – perhaps two slices of plain white bread with a single piece of American cheese between them or a classic PBJ, and an apple.
Written on the outside of the lunch bag in black marker, a note reads: “You call THIS lunch? Meet me at The Palm next week for a steak! ~ Robin Jay.” Your business card is stapled to the top of the bag. Really … who could resist an invitation like THAT?!
A stunt like this is over-the-top – but wouldn’t YOU love it if someone went to that much trouble to invite YOU to lunch? I know I would!
If you want a more subdued method for asking a client to lunch, a written invitation can work, though be careful you don’t come across as desperate! Sometimes, in today’s fast-paced business world, catering to old-fashioned methods might make you seem out-of-date; send a quick text message invitation – “When can I take you out to lunch?” – and you might seem insincere or uncaring. It can be challenging, indeed!
There is always the phone call. Be direct … and be friendly. Now that I’m an entrepreneur, one of my pet peeves is people calling who 1. Don’t identify themselves IMMEDIATELY, and 2. Don’t get to the purpose of their call directly. If I don’t know you, why would I want to go to lunch with you?
Remember W.I.I.F.M.!!! What Is In It For ME?! I don’t get to socialize with my dear friends as much as I would like – so for me to make the time to have a lunch with a stranger, there had better be a good reason.
“Breakfast is the New Lunch”! …or shall I say, “Coffee is Quicker”!
If you want to BUILD a relationship with someone by asking them to break bread with you, you might have an easier time getting them to say “yes” by making it easy FOR THEM. Coffee is fast. Meet them near their office.
BEST OF ALL: The VERY BEST way to invite a client to a business lunch is to find someone who PERSONALLY KNOWS YOUR PROSPECT. Ask THEM if they wouldn’t mind setting up a lunch date. Tell them lunch is on you. This “Middle Man” of sorts knows both of you. They will probably be delighted to help you arrange a meeting. And – of course – they will get to enjoy a wonderful free lunch!
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS: Network, network, network! EVERY time you attend a networking event, you will meet at least 10 people who each know at least 10 people … and so on. Ask around. Find someone who knows the people you want to get to know.
Remember: An INTRODUCTION is the VERY best way to meet someone new. If you can arrange an introduction, asking clients to lunch will be the easiest thing you’ve ever done.