9 Guidelines for Conducting Effective Meetings to Solve Challenges
In reviewing some of my notes from past sessions with clients, I came across these ideas for leading effective meetings.
I’ve used these ideas to lead my team to address specific challenges, problems, and issues we faced as a company. They have kept our meetings on point, focused on the problem, and constantly moving forward to identifying a solution.
However, you can easily use these ideas in a sales meeting with a client to overcome an objection. Or perhaps to help a customer through a post-sales issue with your product.
Look over these 9 guidelines for leading effective meetings. Then determine how you can use this strategy in your sales process:
When opening effective meetings, start with a brief statement of the challenge. Then verify that the group understands the challenge.
Every meeting you conduct won’t be to solve an obvious problem. However, there will always be a reason behind pulling a group of people together. As the leader of the group, it’s your responsibility to bring everyone into the same general mindset. After all, you are about to deliver information that will resolve a common challenge. Regardless of the reason you have gathered your group together, get everyone on the same page and set the expectations for the outcome.
Ask for causes of the challenge.
This works well if you brought your group together to find a solution to a particular problem. Asking them for causes of the problem gets the group to take ownership of it. Now, if you are a sales rep about to present a solution to your client, you discovered the causes during your sales diagnosis. So perform a brief review of those causes and ask if anyone has any adjustments or additions before moving forward.
Ask for possible solutions to the challenge and evidence to support each solution.
When presenting solutions, there are ways you can use evidence to back up your claims and support your arguments. Your evidence can take on several forms, such as a testimonial from another client, collected facts and statistics, an analogy with something that the rest of the group can easily understand, or a demonstration. But the main purpose of the evidence is to support your proposed solution.
Make frequent summaries. When the group has discussed sufficient solutions, select the best possible solution.
Then put it to a vote. The vote’s purpose is to get buy in from everyone at the table. Use your judgement here. If you’re using this vehicle as a brainstorming session for additional ideas, you won’t need buy in from everyone. You will be making the final decision. But if you need everyone to own a piece of the final decision, they’ll accept responsibility more readily if they participate in the final solution.
Appoint an individual or a team to insure the meeting decisions are converted into action.
Also appoint a recorder. This is someone who can take notes, record action items from the meeting, and insure that nothing gets lost.
When leading meetings, express your ideas only after all others have expressed theirs.
You will find some of your team members often demure to the most senior person at the table. These people have spent time in groups where they have made suggestions only to find that the final solution always came from the boss. As a result, their mental investment will extend only as far as their manager’s opinion. As leader of these meetings, your task is to direct, encourage, and lead, not to extensively participate in the discussion.
Encourage an open environment by minimizing parliamentary procedure.
In parliamentary procedure, the group abides by majority rule, but the group also has to hear the minority. With parliamentary procedure, everyone in the group has a voice. However, these rules will also slow the pace of your meeting to a crawl. If you are leading a small group of people looking to resolve a marketing or sales challenge, avoid parliamentary procedure. In a business environment, your better off encouraging green light thinking and red light thinking. However, with large group meetings, add some control to the process. Ask that anyone who wishes to speak obtain recognition from you, the leader. That way you can maintain control of the floor.
Keep the meeting moving forward and on track.
Maintain the meeting speed by encouraging brief contributions. Deal with “lost” individuals or those who purposely monopolize the meeting by tactfully directing them back to the topic at hand.
Encourage participation from everyone.
But avoid going around the table to ask each person’s views directly. That method is too confrontational for some individuals. Instead, ask questions, make the environment inviting and open, and make them happy about contributing. This will help draw out individuals who initially seem reluctant to participate.
We’ll be addressing a few of these guidelines in the Cincinnati Business Courier Classroom Event, Sales Leadership in April. Sign up today and put it on your calendar.