Why is it important? Well from a business meeting point of view you can see and determine small aspects of the company you are visiting.

Looking at the building architecture and decorations you can see if the company is in need to an overhaul or is it a Ritz style hotel in there. These small observations are all part of breaking down in your mind what the chances are of a deal taking place. More importantly it gives you a chance to determine what sort of package you can put together. All this has happened even before you have spoken to anyone!

Another observation you can make and determine the goals of the company is to look at the technology that is being used, so are the computers the latest machines or are they a bit back dated. Have all the team got iPads/Tablets or are they still paper and pen. Smart phones? These are all small details that can give you a big picture as to what the current and possible future goals are in terms of spending money to upgrade and improve.

Now you can get into the smaller details as well such as the business cards, are they high quality, gloss printed cards or are they just a free cardboard versions?

Whilst making these observations take a look at whiteboards or meeting rooms that may have notes from a previous meeting, again try to get an idea of the situation and goals for the company by doing this. What about your competition?

Easy, check the guest book see if anyone you know or company name has been put down, this then gives you another idea of how likely they are to commit today or are going to be shopping around. These are the smaller things that can paint an incredibly detailed picture on the company you are visiting.

Prepare to step away from your specialist subject, say for instance you are selling some sort of technology related product, if you have successfully picked up on anything around the building such as majority of staff using iPads then bring it up, ask if it’s a plan they have had in place for some time or just trialling it. A well placed question can yield the most exceptional answers, usually with you having to say very little.

This is why it’s so vital to get an idea of the company as you enter the building, obviously the standard research before you leave the office is standard procedure but being able to pick up on the smaller things will give you the upper hand when you start the meeting. Always learn your customers’ environment.