With Covid-19 restrictions easing, client meetings are back on the agenda and we’re all looking forward to some face-to-face time with our prospects and clients.
But being a little out of practice, our team of ex-recruiters-cum-Firefish-sales-people got talking about some of our most embarrassing memories of meeting disasters with recruitment clients.
How many of these meeting disasters can you relate to?
1. The coffee conundrum
Who doesn’t love a client who offers to buy you a coffee at a meeting?
Well, the thing is, not everybody actually likes coffee. And when you’re just starting out as a young, fresh-faced rookie recruiter, admitting you’d rather a hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows doesn’t feel quite as professional.
For this reason, a member of the Firefish team told us that when they went for their first ever face-to-face meetings with a recruitment prospect, they politely accepted the offer of a coffee and pretended to sip from the cup, that was conveniently covered with a plastic lid.
The meeting was a success and the rookie recruiter was buzzing to get their first job on. But when both parties stood to leave, things fell apart.
The client went to lift the tray of what they thought were empty takeaway cups, not knowing the rookie’s was still full to the brim. Misjudging the weight, the undrunk coffee was sent flying everywhere – including all down the client’s designer suit. That’s one way to leave a lasting impression, I suppose!
2. A derelict meeting
I once booked a meeting with a new client to discuss some roles they are hiring for. I was so excited about getting the meeting booked (there was a competition on the go for who could book the most meetings in that week) that I forgot to ask for the address.
Instead of taking it on the chin and calling them back to check (maybe the call would make them change their mind!) I thought ‘it’s fine, their address will be on their website.’
Fast forward to the day of the meeting and a long taxi journey from the station ended with being confronted with a lovely big “TO LET” sign outside of their office - which had clearly been abandoned for some time. A sheepish phone call with the client revealed they’d moved address and not updated their website.
Cue a mad dash to the opposite side of the city and a double taxi fare (that I was too embarrassed to expense!).
3. Sleeves McQueen
Of course, it’s important we look sharp when meeting clients and of course, it’s understandable to want to wear your best business attire - even if it’s a little on the neat side.
One of our ex-recruiters told us they once showed up to a client meeting sweating profusely because they were late and wearing a jacket that was a bit tight. After exchanging pleasantries, they all sat down and she went to remove the jacket but the stylish design got the better of her and got stuck halfway down her arms.
Rather than laugh it off and ask for help, she tried (and failed) to make it look intentional, and spent the entire meeting with the jacket in a state of limbo, unsure of whether it was being worn or not. She even stood up to very awkwardly maneuvered her body so she could shake hands with someone who joined the meeting late. Image that, an arm half in half out of a jacket shaking your hand.
After what was a long and painful ten minutes (for everyone involved) one kind soul came forward and offered to help, which ended up being a lot more embarrassing than if she’d just asked for a little help in the first place!
4. The perils of summer in the city
Deciding to walk that ‘short distance’ to your client’s office for a meeting because it’s a nice day always seems like a great idea. That is, until you realise that fifteen minutes travel time isn’t adequate when it’s one of the hottest days of the year and you live in a city like Glasgow that is full of ridiculously steep hills.
In this disaster story, our recruiter arrived at the client’s office in a full and very noticeable sweat. The meeting had been going for all of two minutes when the client interrupted the conversation - clearly disturbed by the sound of sweat dripping onto a notepad - to suggest our overheated recruiter take a minute to cool themselves down in the bathroom.
When the recruiter returned, the client had put a tall glass of ice water at their seat - a nice gesture, but one that only made him more embarrassed!
Just remember that when you claim to offer your clients ‘blood, sweat and tears’ to fill their roles, you shouldn’t mean it literally.
5. The London Red-eye
Scottish recruiters who travel to meet clients in London will be very familiar with the EasyJet ‘red-eye’ service leaving Glasgow at dawn and arriving in London in time for 10am meetings.
One ex-recruiter on our team told us about a time she got on board having had little sleep the night before due to nerves, and a 4am rise to catch the flight. Let's just say some in-flight beauty sleep was in order.
Our recruiter snuggles into their window seat, buckles up and takes 40 winks. Later, they wake up happy to find the plane has already landed on the runway. Feeling refreshed, they gather their things ready to off-board when the pilot comes over the intercom: "Sorry for the delay in departure folks, we should be able to take off shortly”.
They quietly shuffle back into their seat, rushing to covertly email the client that they’re going to be late for the meeting before they get a row for not having their phone on airplane mode.
Now that we've shared some of our hilarious meeting disasters, we'd love to hear some of yours. Feel free to share them in the comments section below. Or, to avoid future meeting disasters altogether, download our eBook on how to successfully turn a prospect into your biggest earner.
David is a Senior Growth Outreach Specialist at Firefish. After working as a 360 recruiter, he loves innovating recruitment with Firefish Software.