Does the thought of a weekly meeting send a shiver down your spine? Do you find yourself asking whether it could just all fit in an email? Do you catch yourself daydreaming about what better tasks you could be accomplishing with that time each week?
A recent study by Atlassian forces managers to face the facts: 47% of meeting-goers complained that meetings are the number one time-waster in the office. 91% found themselves daydreaming, and 73% did other work during meetings.
We at Dialsource know there’s no way to get rid of mandatory sales meetings, but there are ways to make them a better use of time. Here are several ways to make your weekly meetings more engaging and efficient:
Set an Agenda and Stick to It
The mere scheduling of a meeting feels like a herculean task. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of believing that getting everyone in the room is all there is to it. That’s why setting an agenda is essential to an effective sales meeting.
An agenda not only allows you to stay on course as you guide the meeting but also gives your teammates an idea of what they should be prepared for. Even a regular weekly meeting can benefit from an agenda, making participants aware of the order of events and any possible changes.
If you’re looking to add a little something extra to your meetings without being corny or overbearing, you could include special features in your agenda, such as an “internal sales statistic of the week” or a related factoid. Those kinds of little tidbits provide some kind of incentive for people to actually open the agenda.
I once had a committee leader who would include at least one typo or inaccurate piece of information in the agenda and challenge us to find it. To be honest, up until that point I often didn’t touch the agenda until the day of the meeting. That little trick at the very least allowed me to notice and correct that behavior in myself, and be more prepared for the meeting ahead
Request and Allow for Preparation
If all your team members have to do is show up, then odds are they will be less invested in the meeting overall. Kind of like that college class that required nothing but your presence. It was just another place you needed to go, another box on your checklist.
Another thing learned from those kinds of courses is that putting people on the spot is hardly an effective teaching tactic. Ever had an instructor ask an outlandish question just to get your attention? Not the best impression of either the instructor or your knowledge.
Surprising reps with challenges like “sell me that pen” are often more harmful than helpful. If you do include training exercises in your meeting, be sure that is noted on the agenda so that no one is taken by surprise by a sudden influx in team-building exercises.
For weekly meetings that often include individual reports, make sure that reps are given time to prepare and that expectations are made clear. Dan Tyre of Hubspot recommends that leaders “set up a shared document and invite your sales team to update their own slides.” This can help the often monotonous weekly update portion go by more efficiently.
I would add to that recommendation that you set some parameters for the slides, such as word limits or what information to include, to keep your team on task and to keep prep time for each person equal.
Incorporate Training Components
The sales training process never truly ends, and it’s important to reinforce training components regularly to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The training portion of your meeting can take many forms, but should still be short and sweet. Matt Sunshine of the Center for Sales Strategy suggests highlighting a different portion of the sales process each week and going over it, sharing struggles and input.
This can include inquiries like: How long are our emails to clients? Are we consistent across the board in how we communicate both between ourselves and with our clients? Do the “success story” narratives in our sales decks match up? The possibilities are endless as they are catered to your company’s specific process.
Mix It Up Once in Awhile with Guest Speakers
If you’re finding your team in a rut when it comes to meetings or motivation, a guest speaker can help revive everyone’s enthusiasm and curiosity. Choosing guest speakers from diverse subject areas, as long as they are qualified, can boost morale and engagement while maintaining proper use of your meeting time.
You could include any relevant speaker from an actual motivational speaker to a local small business owner. Allow for some Q&A as well. Invite a speaker periodically, perhaps once a month, and consider inviting popular speakers back every year. This allows your company to make connections and support local businesses while also gaining valuable insight.
Talk “With,” not “At”
This should be a given, but many managers get so caught up in managing a meeting that they forget it’s a team effort. Be sure you’re including discussion in your meetings and not just presentation. This isn’t a lecture hall, and these aren’t your students. This is a meeting of valuable employees with a variety of experiences, coming together to consider their progress.
Establish Action Plans
Everyone should leave a meeting with more follow-up tasks than just to make it to the next meeting. Dan Tyre recommends both “general action points” for the whole group, and “specific action points” for each individual. Establishing an action plan allows your team to hold each other accountable, and gives them something to prepare for the next meeting so that they won’t be tempted to just fall asleep.
Shouldn’t You Be in a Meeting?
Nope, not until you’ve constructed your agenda, given your team time to prepare, and made your meeting game plan as engaging as possible. So get to it!