A good friend shared this story with me; "We were invited to sit down with a firm to discuss doing a marketing project for them. Walking into the appointment all we had with us were a couple of legal pads for taking notes and our business cards. At the appointment we asked a lot of questions, took good notes, and thanked the committee for inviting us to listen." My friend stated that the day after submitting a proposal he was informed he'd won the business.
His new client told him he had won the business mostly because he was the only firm that showed up prepared to listen. Each of the other competitors had arrived with lengthy presentations about the wonderful work they had done in the past for other clients and warm thoughts about why they were right for this project.
My friends story is not abnormal. In fact, his story is a not-so-secret truth about how to win new business and relationships. A simple rule to remember -- in a "first meeting" the person that does the most talking is the person that is certain things went really well.
My advise is, next time you or your firm are talking to a potential client leave your presentation at home and arm yourself with a pen and pad.