Guide to successful lunch meeting etiquetteArticle added by Justin Brown on July 2, 2014
Justin R. Brown

Justin Brown

Denver, CO

Joined: April 19, 2013

My Company

Bankrate Insurance

These days, it seems the majority of business transactions occur online or over the phone. With the advancement of technology, it is much easier to do business in this fashion. But face-to-face meetings with insurance prospects are still a good way to build relationships and close a deal. If you’re not an expert at the out-of-office meeting, here are some simple rules to follow that will make a business lunch both productive and enjoyable.

The invitation and meeting location

Keep in mind that lunch with a potential life insurance prospect or client can be more productive than an office meeting. Casually bring up the idea of going out to a restaurant during conversation, then ask the person you are inviting where they want to go. If they don’t care, it’s up to you to come up with a location. Make sure it is someplace neutral. You don’t want to bring a vegetarian to a steakhouse, for example. It might be a good idea to look at the calendar, and be aware of your chosen restaurant ahead of time. For example, a sports-themed restaurant on a regular Tuesday over the lunch hour might be calm, but a Thursday in March during the college basketball tournaments could result in the restaurant being overwhelmed with basketball fans.

Arrive early and dress appropriately

Be sure to arrive early and get a good look around. If you plan to discuss life insurance business, let the server know you are there for a business meeting and are going to want a table in a quiet area of the restaurant. And even though the meeting is out-of-the-office, you should dress in business attire. This is, after all, going to be a formal occasion, not a casual luncheon with friends or family.

When to talk business

It’s always best to begin a meeting at a restaurant with a lighter mood, discussing family, friends and the like. As a good rule of thumb, don’t begin discussing business until after you’ve received your drinks and ordered your meal. Then, when businesses talk begins, frame the conversation around your guest. Ask how life is going for him or her, and what areas you may be able to provide help. This will provide a natural segue into explaining how your company can be of assistance.

Ordering the meal — food and alcohol

Always let your guest order first so they don’t feel inhibited by your choice. If they order an alcoholic beverage, so be it, but you should not do the same. The boss may frown upon that when you turn in your receipt.

Handling the bill — tipping and problems with the bill

There is an art to handling the bill and you want to be graceful about it. Ask the server to provide you with the check, and be ready to hand off your credit card right away. Don’t stare at the line items and analyze the bill. This will distract from the conversation. If you find an error with the bill, contact the restaurant manager later, after your guest has left. And when it comes to tipping, tip an amount appropriate to the level of service and type of service. Even if the service is substandard, leave some sort of tip. However, leaving too large of a tip without merit is an insincere gesture that is not likely to impress your client.

Other expected behaviors

As far as some other things to keep in mind during the meeting, turn off your cell phone when you sit down for the meeting. The last thing you want to happen during a life insurance business proposal is an interruption to your momentum. Make sure you have a good closing statement prepared before you sign the receipt and the meeting comes to an end. This is especially important when talking to life insurance prospects, as a conversation on this topic is not necessarily the most comfortable thing a person will ever do.

And of course, be yourself during the meeting and relax. The reason you left the office in the first place is because being in a social setting allows people to open up more, making it easier to strengthen a business relationship.
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