How to Lead Productive Sales Meetings

Thursday Sep 26th 2013 by Pedro Hernandez
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Generating revenue is tough enough without having to sit through unproductive meetings. These four tips will help you conduct meetings that move the sales process forward.

Meetings get a bad rap. Often considered time drains, they're maligned for bringing productivity to a grinding halt and for failing to advance business objectives.

If you're in sales (and really, what small business owner isn’t?), your job depends on productive meetings with clients. How do you make the most of these gatherings? Entrepreneur Travis Davis made an app for that, but more importantly, he has some tips on running productive sales meetings.

Davis is the president of Point N Time Software, the nearly two-year-old startup behind the Meeting Mapper app for the iPad and Salesforce. The app helps sales professionals to track and document meetings with innovative note taking features, cloud integration and data captue, and sharing capabilities.

While apps help, Davis shares some pointers that even the device-less can use. Here are his

4 Tips for Productive and Rewarding Sales Meetings

1. Establish a Clear Objective

Work toward a goal in every meeting. Is there an issue to tackle or a matter that calls for a resolution? Make it your mission to settle it.

What's more, Davis suggests that you make sure that everyone involved agrees upon the goal. It's a way of keeping competing interests in check and to prevent your meetings from getting hijacked or from veering dangerously off-topic. You'll find that meetings become more productive when everyone's aligned toward a common goal.

2. Identify the Players

"Identify everybody in the meeting," says Davis. This mental exercise isn’t about taking a headcount; it's about digging deep to understand everyone attending your meeting.

Take stock of their roles within the organization and their status at that point in time. Are they for or against your proposals? Maybe they're neutral or undecided. Have attitudes shifted from past meetings?

Observe each attendee's level of participation for clues on whether your message is being well received and take particular note of "buying signals that you hear," Davis adds. A deeper knowledge of your audience lets you tailor your delivery for maximum effectiveness. A little nuance here goes a long way.

3. Document the Meeting

A one liner in an email to your team doesn't cut it. Generate a report that accurately reflects the matters that you discussed, solutions that surfaced and outcomes that you reached.

Crucially, make a record of an "action item or next step," says Davis. Without formulating a plan to steer your sales efforts going forward, a meeting is just pleasant conversation with a conference room full of people.

As with any business process, productive meetings move sales deals forward. A meeting report serves as a record of that progress and a map toward success.

4. Distribute the Meeting Report

Once you generate a meeting report, share it. Deliver a sanitized version to your customer to ensure that everyone's informed.

Don't forget your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Davis' biggest gripe: "people just do not update their CRM with the data to build tactical and strategic plan." Organizations spend "an astronomical amount of money for CRM, but it's being reduced to a contact management and marketing [system]," he added.

A productive meeting has the potential to benefit your entire sales organization, and hence the entire company. Disseminating this information prevents situations where an account executive leaves your company and "the information goes with the sales guy." CRM is "disaster recovery for sales," says Davis. Use it.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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