Dinner and drinks with clients should be an enjoyable event. The whole idea behind taking a client out for dinner is so the two of you can get out of the office, relax and connect on a more personal level. Often though, heading out for dinner and drinks with a client can lead to a series of anxiety-inducing questions: What should you order? How much should you spend? How much should you consume? Let us help you get through the evening unscathed.
Did you know that in Japanese society it’s considered impolite to stop drinking if you’re out with your client or superior and they continue to consume? While I am not suggesting you make sure you always drink as much as your client, part of this Japanese custom is worthwhile to note, and that part is ensuring you’re never drinking MORE than your client.
While it’s easy to be out socializing, let your guard down and forget these are people you do business with on a daily basis, drinking too much and developing a reputation as a lush is never a good thing. Clients talk after all. So what is too much? This is where never drinking more than your client comes into play. A client will dictate how much they think is appropriate to drink simply by how much they consume themselves. So, if your client has just one glass of wine, you do the same, but if they suggest you order a second or third bottle and then end the evening with Grappa, go on and join them, granted you’re actually up for drinking more yourself! Better to let them have the reputation as a lush than you!
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In terms of ordering wine to begin with, again, let the client dictate, especially if they are someone who knows wine. If you’re out with a client who has let it be known that they know a thing or two about vino, instead of trying to impress them, defer to them. As you know from dealing with clients, the most important part of client management is that the client is pleased, and nothing pleases a client more than being able to take charge! You gain nothing by trying to one-up them with your knowledge of wine.
When the wine list is presented, pass it to your client and ask them to select the bottle. If you’re worried about the client ordering a bottle that is too extravagant and expensive, don’t be. Most clients will be hyperaware of the cost of the bottle they order and won’t want to gain a reputation for being that client that oversteps your generosity. If there is a rare occasion that you do have a client that orders extravagantly, take this as a great opportunity to realize this is probably a client you don’t want to be working with in the first place, and fire them. Clients aren’t the only ones who can end relationships!
Finally, if the client insists that you do the ordering, select a bottle in a range that they won’t find extravagant, but that says it’s great working together. I find a bottle in the $50-$60 range always seems to do the trick.