Stop wasting your time at meetings (sales or otherwise)

Maura Schreier-Fleming's Profile

You probably hate meetings if you’re like most people. When you ask people about meetings they say that meetings are a waste of time.  But what about your selling?  Your sales calls are meetings and you certainly don’t think selling your products or services is a waste of time, right?  Sales meetings with other sales member of your team are often times to learn and improve your selling skills. Let’s look at making meetings more productive including your sales call meetings. 

All productive meetings have an agenda.

There needs to be an agenda whether you are going to a meeting with your sales team or making a sales call. The difference will be in the level of detail, but you shouldn’t attend any meeting that doesn’t have an agenda.  Why? When there isn’t an agenda the person holding the meeting has no idea what time constraints he’s working with and what he wants to achieve. Those types of meetings often waste valuable time and nothing gets done.  Hint: If you can’t create a realistic agenda for a meeting then don’t hold the meeting! 

The agenda for your sales call with prospects and customers should include preparation for how you will start the sales call. What question will you ask to get down to business? Remember, the small talk, if you have any, should only be a few minutes. Next, confirm the time you have for the meeting. You want to be able to adjust your objectives if the time you thought you had suddenly changed and got shorter. 

Make sure key people are in attendance.

Ask a prospect or customer before the meeting if there’s anyone else who needs to attend the meeting. You may find that there’s someone who is an important influencer or decision maker who should be included in the meeting. It’s less time to sell to two people at once rather than hold two separate meetings. 

You may be conducting a sales meeting where you need to invite other people to attend.  Don’t let your meeting get too large. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is known for implementing the “two-pizza rule.”  His rule says that if you need more than two pizzas to feed everyone then the meeting is too large.  

You might consider inviting people to attend a portion of the meeting and discuss the information where only they can make a contribution. That way your meeting doesn’t get too large and you can get the information you need. 

Leave time for a summary.

Now the meeting is over. You have an interested prospect. Or, you had a productive sales meeting. Then what happens?  In too many cases the answer is nothing. Why? Because specific tasks with deadlines assigned to specific people aren’t given.  People often forget what they said during a meeting. The only way you’re going to move forward in a sales process or solve a business problem is if the work that needs to get done gets done. That means giving assignments to people with deadlines associated with each task.  

When you agree that the meeting will be 30 minutes, or one hour, allow at least the last 5 to 10 minutes to summarize who will be taking the next steps and when they will be done. You’ve put a lot of effort and time into your meetings and you don’t want it all to go to waste because you haven’t planned for the next steps of who will be doing what and by when.  

Another question I like to ask before I end the meeting is to ask “Was there anything I should have asked that I didn’t?”  You may learn an important piece of information that you can use moving forward in your sales process.   

Meetings with customers, training meetings or meetings to make critical decisions don’t have to be a waste of time. You will find your meetings far more productive when you hold them only when you have to, invite the right people, and allocate time for the items on your agenda.  You just might hear, “Now that was a great meeting!”

Learn much, much more in Maura's courses on Illumeo.

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Maura Schreier-Fleming founded Best@Selling in 1997. Maura is a versatile, results-oriented speaker, sales trainer and sales consultant who has worked with numerous large and mid-sized clients to improve sales performance. She is the author of Monday Morning Sales Tips and Real-World Selling for Out-of-This World Results. Maura works with business and sales professionals who want to get better results from their work.