If you struggle to run productive sales meetings, you’re not alone.
Unfortunately, too many sales meetings become a forum for off-topic discussion or a podium for announcements that could be sent in an email.
And these types of meetings do come with a cost. Not only do they tend to demotivate employees, but the cost of the sales reps’ salaries, the overhead for the meeting room, and utilities quickly add up.
One study found that a single weekly meeting of midlevel managers cost an organization $15 million a year. Most employees attend an average of 62 meetings a month with executives spending 40-50% of their time in meetings.
There are estimates that over a third of these meetings are ineffective and unproductive. You can see how this can quickly add up for an organization.
However, meetings are not inherently unproductive. Meetings are the perfect place for collaboration – brainstorming sessions, knowledge sharing, and project updates are all great reasons to hold a meeting.
And with so many of our sales teams spread across the country or the globe, holding meetings is more important than ever.
The good news is that by following a few simple principles, you can cut back on unproductive, wasteful meetings and focus on meetings that produce results.
Just like a great sales call has its own agenda and schedule, so too can a productive sales meeting.
In fact, many of the same best practices your sales reps follow for a successful sales call are the same ideas you can apply to productive sales meetings.
How to Run More Productive Sales Meetings In 6 Easy Steps
These are five best practices for productive sales meetings that anyone can employ to produce results.
1. Write an agenda.
A sales meeting without a plan can quickly go off the rails and head into ‘conversation’ territory. An agenda not only sets the expectations for the meeting but also a schedule.
It will help you in the meeting to determine when the talk is veering off topic, but it will also give your sales reps the chance to prepare.
Whether they need to come armed with their sales figures for the last month or three commitments for the week ahead, your sales reps are as important in ensuring your meeting is productive.
An agenda should include:
- The purpose of your meeting. Why are you holding it?
- List of attendees (so there’s no confusion).
- How to attend. This is often the location and time, but it might also be a dial-in number for digital meetings.
- Topics to discuss and allotted time for each.
- Decisions to make and allotted time for each.
- Call to action. Your sales reps should leave with a task. What are they going to accomplish before the next meeting
2. Choose one key issue to focus on.
If you want to run short, but productive sales meetings it is important to narrow the focus of the meeting.
Trying to cover last week’s performance, long-term sales objectives, the details of a new product launch, creating a new sales contest, and planning the company lunch will quickly turn a 45-minute meeting into a three-hour time drain.
Picking the most important issue not only helps eliminate distractions and tangents, but it gives you the time to drill down and focus on the details.
When you start building meetings around a time limit and with an agenda, you will find your productivity soars. Your sales reps will have a chance to come prepared and talk about and make decisions regarding a topic and leave feeling refreshed and motivated.
3. Recognize performance.
If it is one thing that sales reps love, it is recognition for their success. You can set aside a few minutes of your meeting to give your team their moment to shine.
Managers are often busy, caught in meetings of their own, and putting out fires left and right, which can leave little time to note your team’s accomplishments. Carving out a few minutes is a great way to create this time to show your team that you do see their work and their contributions.
If you make this something you are consistent with, it will become what your team looking forward to attending.
4. Keep to your schedule.
A productive sales meeting should model a productive sales call. Respect your team’s time just like they would a customer’s time. Meaning do your best to ensure you start on time and end on time.
If this is a struggle, you can schedule meetings at the end of the day to encourage closing out the meeting by 5:00.
5. Agree on next steps.
Productive sales meetings are only productive when your sales team leaves the room equipped with actions to take to succeed in the goals set during the meeting.
Just like with a sales call where your sales reps will make it clear to a customer what next steps they should expect, you can do the same to close out a meeting.
Jason Fried, in a TED Talk, offered a wonderful definition for meetings: “Meetings are places to go to talk about things you’re supposed to be doing later.” So make the steps clear – and clearly linked to their goals.
When your sales reps leave the meeting, they should be clear on their goals, next steps, and deadlines.
6. Write a follow-up email.
Sending an email to the meeting’s members can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and tie up any loose ends. This is where you can set out of the minutes of the meeting to document what was discussed and the goals moving forward.
This can be a great resource for your sales reps until the next meeting.
Do you find that you struggle to run productive sales meetings? What practices do you plan to adapt to ensure your meetings are lean and effective?
Let us know in the comments if you have a favorite trick you use to keep meetings on track.