Making Meetings Time-Effective

By Lain Ehmann

“With only nineteen to twenty working days in the average month, each day spent sitting in meetings consumes five percent of a straight-commission salesperson’s monthly income. Lose a week, lose 25 percent,” says Paul Johnson of Panache and Systems LLC. “No sales manager ever reduced a monthly quota because sales meetings were scheduled that month.” No wonder, then, that so many reps hate sales meetings. Here are Johnson’s tips on how to make sales meetings more time-effective for attendees:

  • Ask participants for input beforehand. Find out what topics they’d like addressed, and then let them know that you’re including at least some of their hot issues on the agenda.
  • Take frequent breaks. Because of the need to make and respond to customer calls, salespeople need more frequent breaks than most businesspeople. Every hour to hour and a half is ideal, says Johnson.
  • Send out the agenda in advance. By letting attendees know what topics are going to be covered, the usefulness is clear upfront.
  • Don’t drown reps in technical details. “Salespeople are not technicians,” reminds Johnson. Use metaphors and images to simplify concepts and make them more memorable. Save the detail for handouts mailed to the reps after the meeting. “You can’t cover it all in the meeting anyway,” he reminds.
  • Have attendees implement the information right away through role-playing, case studies, and group discussion. Retention will be higher if they’re asked to use what they’re learning.
  • Start on time. “Even if the room is only half full, start anyway,” says Johnson.
  • Follow up. Ask attendees for feedback on the event, as well as success stories of how they used the concepts presented. Perform a survey of what people got out of the meeting. Compile answers and pass this information on to the rest of the team.

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