My top tip when visiting any company is ‘always accept the guided tour’.
It’s amazing how often this happens, even with people who have nothing particularly interesting to show you. You can understand the attraction of a company with a factory or warehouse; there’s plenty to look at. But I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been offered a guided tour of offices and meeting rooms (“gosh, that’s a very impressive white board…..”).
Always leap at the chance of being showed round. For one thing, they’re clearly proud of their office environment, so do sound enthusiastic!
But randomly wandering around someone’s office can enable some very useful ad-hoc meetings; as you pass the Managing Director’s office, it’s relatively easy to introduce yourself: “Hello, I’m Mike from Associated Widget Services”. Most people respond positively, so you can follow with “I’m chatting with Jean to see if our widget sharpening might be useful for you”.
You then watch the Managing Director’s body language carefully; if you get a positive response, the person showing you around has got some useful ‘brownie points’ with their boss. You can then drop in some Proof: “We’ve just done a major widget project from MegaCorp, which went very well”. This will usually elicit some ‘closing’ remark from the Managing Director: “that sounds great; I look forward to hearing more detail later”, so take the hint and move on.
But beware the opposite scenario; if your prospect has no inclination to show you around their place, are you really likely to do business with them?