Every Second Counts: Making Meeting Time Work

By Lain Ehmann

When you pull your sales team out of the field to attend a meeting, you want every second they’re in the meeting to be put to its best and highest use. Here’s how to keep your meetings moving:

1. It’s just a matter of time. Put a time limit on each agenda item, and if it looks like the discussion is running over, quickly decide whether to table discussion, or to replace one of the other agenda items.

2. Start with the most critical item. That way, even if you get nothing else done, you will have taken care of the highest priority on your list. If an agenda item is continually pushed to a later meeting, question whether it’s necessary, or if people are procrastinating because it deals with unpleasant business. If it’s the former, cut it from the list altogether. If it’s the latter, set a special meeting to deal with it and get it done.

3. Reaffirm your overall goals. Use each meeting to remind your team of the overall goals and objectives for the team, for the quarter and the year. This doesn’t mean make a speech or ask everyone to recite the company pledge. A simple sentence at the top of the agenda is enough to remind everyone that “this year’s goal is to double sales to the medical industry.” Productivity guru Brian Tracy says that reaffirming goals regularly is the key to accepting them at a subconscious level.

4. Surprise everyone. Do something different at each meeting – have someone else serve as facilitator or note taker. Hand out lollipops. Give everyone a copy of a great article. Hold your meeting at the local burger joint. Keep everyone on their toes – it becomes a habit that carries over to all areas of your behavior, and it lets team members know that it isn’t “business as usual.”

5. Take time for kudos and thanks. Public “thank yous” and “congratulations” can mean more than an in box full of email messages. Most salespeople are extroverts – and competitive – and enjoy being patted on the back in front of others.

6. Follow up. At the close of each meeting, appoint someone to be responsible for writing up action items and distributing them to attendees. Then ask for a status report before the next meeting so you don’t waste time at the next session figuring out where everything stands.