In almost every industry, Monday morning sales meetings are part of the DNA of running most organizations
- In commercial B2B sales, gathering the district or the regional salespeople together either F2F or E2E, reviewing the prior week and keying up everyone for the week and the month ahead is often one of the best tactics of effective sales management and becomes part of the lifeblood of the culture of the department.
- Monday morning sales huddles whether it's around the team cubicles on the floors of Facebook, Hubspot, Salesforce or Brainshark and every other tech company that I'm involved in is a definitive part of the team spirit of culture, instant training tips, pushing-the-limit sales goals for the week, and, of course, bragging rights.
- In the retail aisles of Home Depot this morning are pods of 50, 60 and 70 year old salespeople and their team leaders talking through the results of the Black Friday weekend and setting quotas and their accompanying bonuses for the weekend ahead.
- Don't bother calling into any venture or PE firm on any Monday morning since it's time for crack-the-whip partner reviews of what's being pushed and made ready to exit, what progress is being made on developing the portfolio and what's brewing on the street for new deals in a complex industry where both the wins are big, but so are the failures.
- So given this culture and frequency of Monday morning meetings, followed, of course, by staff meetings, management meeting, exec meetings, product development meetings and even more and more meetings, why do meetings get such a bad rap, when, in fact, they should be one of the most effective means of communicating?
Very Simple? It's Not the Meeting. It's the Lack of our Follow Up!
Tip #1 Get Full commitments & Total Understandings
Try to summarize the end of every meeting in the last 5 minutes. Agree on the next steps that are going to happen between now and whenever the timetables are that have been set. Stay away from the proverbial, "by the next meeting", since in most cases that timetable is going to be an artificial date, which is typically going to be either too early or too late.
Rarely are the commitments going to be team agreements, They're just simply going to be assigned to one or maybe two people. Getting those commitments is the easy part.
But, also make sure that there's total agreement around the table or conference phone as to exactly what was said and exactly what was agreed upon. This sounds equally easy, but way too often in group meetings, the reality is that at least one person walks away with a lack of clarity either on what was said or what was agreed on, resulting in time being wasted once again. Just take two minutes to make sure that there is total understanding of the issue and agreements leaving the meeting, and that there's no one who did want to raise the question of... "I'm still not clear on the issue, or the action, or the timetable."
We would be wise to think about the Chinese proverb...
"He who asks questions is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask is a fool forever"
Tip #2. Write it Down
We do pretty good at meeting protocol of starting and ending meetings on time, but then we're running off to another meeting on a totally different subject, or it may be that there was a subject or two that was discussed that lacked total clarity on the part of all of the stakeholders at the meeting.
We need to practice religiously the ancient Chinese proverb...
“The palest ink is better than the best memory.”
If you are having a meeting that there are no notes being taken by the assigned DNT (Designated Note Taker), then there's no real meeting. We're not talking "he-said, she-said" transcription notes here.
- All bullets
- Just one page
- What's the action?
- Who's responsible?
- What's the time line-either exact or approximate?
- Each week the DNT role switches to another manager
- Use the whiteboard for emphasis. One, two or three agreements.
- Take a picture of the whiteboard, email it to everyone at the end of the meeting.
Tip #3. Take an Action...any Action
Another Chinese proverb...
"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand"
Make each meeting personally interesting by discussing at least one, and preferably two "Best Practices". In Sales, this is especially meaningful since it gets right to the heart of the most impactful type of training which is peer-to-peer learning. Just an explanation of one sales or sales management tactic that was successfully used during the prior week or month.
- One management technique that had impact
- One communication method that worked better than others
- One recruiting or onboarding process that had a very positive outcome
All this should take is a maximum of 15 minutes at the end of every weekly sales meeting. In fact, you don't want it to take any longer. This process of consistently including "Best Sales Practices" is just the icing on the cake portion of the weekly "here's-what-needs-to-be-done-this-week-meeting". Provide the Best Practice...and then drive it home with the storytelling of just one recent example that worked.
Another Chinese proverb...
"The difference between a good cook and a great cook, is the training of just one hour a day"
As we now enter into the most critical part of any sales year, let's make every meeting count. As professional athletes and sales warriors, there's no time to waste, and ensuring effective meeting management is one of the most efficient communication tools that we can use during this crazy, hectic time of year.