In a previous post, we reviewed some guidelines for conducting an effective meeting. Now, when you consider that most executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, you want these events to be as efficient as possible. You want to get the most out of your meeting while expending a minimum of resources.
Also, consider the cost of holding a meeting. In order to conduct your meeting, you need a room with presentation resources. So you have the cost of the room and the cost of your time to set it all up and break it down.
But most importantly, you need the people to attend. And each one of those people has a cost associated with them, not just in terms of an hourly salary expenditure, but also in opportunity cost. Remember, every minute they’re in your meeting is a minute they aren’t doing something else for the company.
So, every meeting you conduct should have an achievable and well-stated outcome. And your meeting should be streamlined to reach that outcome as quickly as possible while using a few resources as possible. This is probably one of the reasons sales reps have a bad reputation. Your customers don’t want to waste their time and resources in a sales meeting listening to a sales rep talk about something they aren’t interested in or have no need for.
If you want to be known as a no-nonsense person who gets things done, add these elements to control your meetings, especially your sales meeting:
10 Ideas To Get More Out Of Your Sales Meetings
Time Management, Part 1
Start on time, regardless of the number of absent members. If you need to add some encouragement, lock the door to the room requiring late arrivals to request admittance, or charge a late fee.
Time Management, Part 2
End on time. Avoid frustrating surprises like the additional topics that add 10 to 15 minutes to the meeting. Not only will you keep your attendees aligned with their schedule, you will earn credibility points with them. They will respect you and have no problem attending your meetings in the future.
Invite Your Attendees Via Email.
Send out invitations to participants. Give attendees ample time to work it into their schedule. Nothing irks participants more than having to rearrange or cancel their previously scheduled events to accommodate an emergency meeting with 12 hours notice.
Control Your Sales Meeting with an Agenda.
Give yourself ample time to prepare the meeting. This means creating an informative agenda to keep the meeting focused. Send your agenda out at least 48 hours in advance to all attendees and get their buy-in. When you create your agenda, include the discussion topics, start time and end times, the date, invited attendees, list of pertinent docs, recap from the last meeting, and action items that the group needs to review. We talk extensively about the agenda when we talk about setting up a client sales meeting.
Always Know Your Outcome.
If you are facilitating the meeting, know the desired outcome you want the group to achieve at the end of the allotted time. It helps when you create the agenda and it helps get you back on track when off-topic discussions crop up. Remember, you have a hard start time and a hard stop time. Work between those two defining moments to achieve the outcome stated at the top of your agenda.
Keep Your Meeting Moving
One of the jobs of the facilitator is to guide the meeting in the right direction. Have questions ready to guide your attendees towards addressing the issues at hand and keep the meeting moving at a brisk pace. If the discussion starts to drag, you will need to have a way to get it back on pace.
Set Up The Next Meeting
Always establish the time, date, and place for the next meeting before you adjourn your current meeting. Part of the agenda for the next meeting will be the action items from your current meeting. Make sure you provide enough time for attendees to accomplish their action items along with other projects that they are completing.
Own The Meeting Backchannel.
At one time, we required everyone to turn off their cell phones to ensure that the speaker had everyone’s full attention. Today, if a meeting member has their smartphone out, they could be taking notes or accessing documentation. They could even be conferencing in other members of the team. Before blindly implementing the “no cell phone” rule, ask how you can use the backchannel to extend your reach and make additional resources available to the group.
The next two points are used primarily for sales management. But remember, with some creativity and flexibility, you can also use these points when conducting a sales meeting with a client:
Setup Your Meeting Room
Control your environment to support your meeting. If you’re meeting with a few people for a 10-minute update, use a stand-up meeting. It takes little time to set up and break down. For longer meetings, fit the environment to your meeting length. You don’t want your attendees fidgeting in a 30-minute chair for a 90-minute meeting. You want them focused on your agenda topics, not on their discomfort.
Now, in your sales meeting with a prospect, you can’t control over every aspect of the room. But you can exert some control over where your prospect sits. When you’re sitting across the table from your prospect, you’ve drawn the battle line and you are setting yourself up for a confrontation. However, sitting on the same side of the table while reviewing a proposal positions you as a helpful consultant. If you are performing a sales presentation in front of a group, place your decision makers close to you and leverage association by proximity. Place your champions out in the group to disperse potential hostile attitudes. Realize that there is always something you can do with the environment to assist your sales efforts. Use them all to your advantage.
Select the Meeting Time Strategically.
Leverage human nature to ensure your meeting stays on track and on time. If possible, schedule a one-hour meeting at 11:00 AM or at 4:00 PM. This will ensure everyone stays focused and on topic to meet the ending time. Also, if you do hold meetings during the lunch hour, for example, the lunch-and-learn product demo, use the first 15 minutes to allow people to network get their food out of the way before getting into the meat of your demonstration.
Meetings don’t have to be the bane of corporate America and your next sales meeting doesn’t have to be an event of disdain. Use these ideas to manage your meeting and earn the respect of your team members, managers, clients, and prospect. Be the hero.