Coffee or Dinner with a Business Prospect - Think ROI

Are your business meetings consuming your profit? They shouldn't be.

You're planning a meeting with a potential client. Do you meet for coffee or discuss business over a meal? Tradition (err, glorified sales films) would say, extravagant dinner–one that woos your prospect.

Today, the business meeting landscape has changed dramatically; we're even conducting consults over Skype. Deciding what type of get-together to plan should be as simple as asking yourself one question:

"How much do I expect to profit from this new business relationship?"

If you're coming up with low, long-term figures, opt for coffee. It's casual, comfortable and doesn't carry the added pressure or bill that a full-course dinner does.

Maybe you expect to earn a few thousand dollars over the course of your services. Does spending $100 on a potential $1000 pay-out make sense? Absolutely not.

Think about it this way, that dinner just ate up 10% of your profit.

The only time taking a new prospect out for dinner makes sense is when real money is on the table. If you know earning your guest's business means tens of thousands of dollars, you'd better plan appropriately and go with something more serious.

Feel like you're falling somewhere in between? There's always lunch to throw into the mix. It's still casual, gives you a slightly more serious setting than coffee and doesn't eat into your budget the same way a dinner would.

The bottom line: think about the long-term payout of earning your potential client's business.

When Should you Pay?

Always. Always. Always pay for the meal, coffee, drinks and everything in between. 

You invited them and you want the money in their pockets. Don't end a great meeting with the awkwardness of splitting bills. Don't even let there be a moment of hesitation, that second of waiting to see what the other person does.

You should ask your server in advance to charge everything on your bill. That way, there's no "Is this together or separate?" nonsense going on.

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