Am I allowed to suggest the obvious? Please grant me one mulligan for recommending what I believe is common sense.
And before I go on, I’m only about 80% successful in what I’m about to preach to my peers in the consulting industry.
Remember, We’re in the Giving Business
I’m tight with my money. Maybe by too much. Pennies scream when they see me coming toward them.
Okay, that’s probably an exaggeration. My main point is that I’m not a free spender. I enjoy buying when it comes to coffee meetings and lunches with prospective and existing clients.
Many times, CEOs will naturally want to pick up the check. Try not to let that happen. My gentle suggestion is to kindly tell your guest (think Disney) that it’s your treat and then continue the conversation as though nothing happened.
When The CEO Does Pick Up the Bill
What happens if the CEO does pick up the bill? Then just say, “Thank you.” As always, do it sincerely.
I even will send a handwritten note the following day thanking them for lunch and the great conversation. If that person has been a long-time client, surprise them with the note anyway. They’ll appreciate it.
Exceptions to the Rule
Remember my 80% comment at the outset? I have one client that meets with me monthly. We go to the same Columbia, Missouri hangout every month. I never get to pay. I swallow my pride and just accept it. For those types of clients, the above rule is hard to follow.
However, in those situations where you and an existing client go out occasionally, pick up the bill. You can afford it. Generosity is a beautiful gift that rewards the giver as much as the recipient.