Sales meetings are part of doing business. By many estimates, however, salespeople waste as much as 50% of their time engaged in meetings that go nowhere.
When meetings are done right, sellers significantly improve their ability to advance the sale. Unfortunately, trouble begins almost from the moment the words, “Let’s have a meeting to discuss it,” are uttered.
Five Ways that Salespeople Waste Time in Meetings
#1: Meeting with the wrong people.
Early in my sales career, I was told to “get into the account wherever you can.”
Back then we didn’t have the technology we do today. Talking to a number of people in order to get to the right decision maker was a necessary evil.
Today, if you aren’t using the Internet, social networks or relationship management systems like Nimble to quickly find the right buyers to engage, you might as well find yourself a new career.
#2: Squishy agendas or none at all.
My rule #1 is that a successful meeting begins with a clear purpose. If the question, “What is the purpose and agenda for this meeting?” cannot be answered – don’t hold a meeting.
Sales people are notorious for flying by the seat of their pants. They don’t think through the purpose of the meeting from the prospects point of view. Their agenda is to get in and sell.
#3: Poor facilitation skills.
Successful meetings rely on a careful balance of asking the right questions, listening and keeping conversations on track. Instead, a high percentage of salespeople roll right into their pitch only to later wonder why a sale didn’t materialize.
#4: No clear plan of action to advance the opportunity.
Planning what you want to happen during the meeting – and after the meeting ends – is crucial.
Time and again, I’ve seen sellers walk out of a meeting without securing the commitment for a specific next action, like locking in a follow up phone call. If you leave without a defined next step, you might spend weeks trying rebuild any momentum you had.
#5: Failure to do their homework.
This is probably my all-time pet peeve. There are many ways to gather information about a prospect and their company before a meeting takes place. The best sales meetings are the ones in which the salesperson clearly demonstrates they’ve learned about the buyer’s business; they have some idea of what’s important to them.
Meetings need clear objectives, the right people in the room and a clear plan for what comes next. Otherwise, like a hamster on a wheel, sellers will keep running from meeting to meeting with no sales revenue to show for it.