Managers in this industry have a very uneven record regarding delivering sales meetings regularly and delivering them effectively. Today, scheduling effective meetings is even harder with many sales and operational people working in virtual locations. Fortunately, technology such as Webinars help in regards to virtual meetings. Here are some rules for meetings in general, and next month, I will present ideas specifically for making sales meetings more effective:
►Consistent: They should be held at regularly scheduled times so that employees can integrate meetings into their long-term schedules. They should not be called only when there is a dire issue to discuss or some other emergency. In other words, when you schedule a meeting, your sales staff should not be thinking, “Uh-oh, what happened now?”
►On-time: They should start on time. Consider penalties for those who are late—or, even better, awards for those who are on time! Make the penalties fun such as the last person brings coffee/doughnuts for everyone next time. Of course, this example only works for “in-person” meetings. However, I am sure you can think of ideas for virtual meetings. For example, give out an award to the first person on the line.
►Agenda: They should follow a published agenda. Good meetings follow a plan. It does not mean writing a novel—just a few bullet points. Invite participants to add items to the agenda. Unfinished items should carry over first on the next meeting’s agenda.
►Diverse: General staff meetings and specific meetings should both be held. Perhaps one might hold staff meetings one time per month and sales meetings three times per month. Or, start with a staff meeting and then break into groups. In other words, don’t ignore operational issues. Some meetings should be solely operational personnel, some solely sales personnel and some should combine the two groups.
►Training: Training should be an integral part of the meeting. It would be too much to have a regular meeting schedule and a regular training schedule: Employees still have to perform their jobs. Go over a short training topic meeting and add a larger topic periodically. Solicit advice as to what topics the employees need. And make sure you are not only training on company procedures, technology and products. Help them become better industry professionals as well.
►Time management: Cover other administrative tasks at the same meeting—but limit the focus so as not to take away from sales. Many don’t read e-mails or memos and you must address these issues live, even if brief.
►Atmosphere—Keep the meetings positive: Improvement of performance is important, but it is important to keep individual criticism to a minimum. Handle individual criticisms in private. Do not let these sessions morph into complaint sessions, especially regarding issues over which the participants have no control. Sales meetings are notorious for falling back to the company’s rate policy or operational issues. Make a pact: If someone wants to change a policy, they must make a recommendation and it is to be placed on the next meeting agenda for vote. If you cannot change the policy (perhaps it is a corporate issue), encourage them to write an e-mail for the group with a recommendation. Integrate success stories and positive news to steer the group towards a positive atmosphere. Praise and awards are great agenda items.
►Objectives: Make sure you have clear objectives for the meetings: Training, recruitment, goal setting, etc. If you don’t know where you are going, you are much less likely to arrive at the destination. One objective you should have is to bring a big picture analysis. Many times meetings get stuck in the “minutiae” of what is happening every day. They miss the fact that everyone else in the industry is suffering the same fate. Bring articles up that talk about trends and where the industry is heading in the long term.
►Participate: Allow each employee to contribute: Perhaps you could have someone different conduct the meeting each time. Unless they become interactive, they will represent a form of one-way communication and that is not our objective. Also, having top leaders in the office/company conduct meetings is great management training. This serves a dual objective.
Dave Hershman is a top author in the mortgage industry with seven books published, as well as hundreds of articles. Dave has delivered hundreds of keynote speeches, seminars and schools for the industry as well. He may be reached by e-mail at Dave@HershmanGroup.com or visit OriginationPro.com.