So, from what I have heard so far, your sales team arrive late. They are unprepared. They don't follow any fixed agenda. And the meetings often end up operationally focused.

Transforming Sales Meeting Engagement

Ronan, they are a nightmare. They have become so frustrating and boring. The team is disengaging. In fact, if I am honest. I look at my diary every Monday and dread that weekly sales meeting.

So, how did it get to this point?

Well, I sort of inherited the structure. And I am beginning to realise, it is one habit I should have changed earlier. But, there were so many other challenges to focus on. It didn’t seem a priority. That has changed.

So, talk me through the typical meeting and how it runs.

You know what as I do, I know you’ll cringe because I will cringe. It starts at 8.30 AM. Or should I say it is scheduled to start at 8.30 AM. It never starts on time.

How is that?

Well, it seems like an excuse, but that was the habit when I started. People simply rocked up at 8.40 AM or 8.45 AM. It wasn’t an issue, so, I didn’t raise it as an issue. My team to be fair do work long hours. But, I now realise that it is no longer acceptable.

In my experience, people underestimate the impact of a culture of “it is ok to arrive late for meetings”. The knock on effect of one late meeting in the morning inevitably leads to a day of late meetings and meeting over-runs. And that causes stress and reactivity.

Yes, that is so true. We start late, and we never finish on time. It often results in people having to leave early to make a sales call. And it is so disruptive. Note to me, “it has to stop”. But, Ronan, that is not the worse bit.

Go on.

Well, most of the time people arrive with their coffees. Get comfortable. Start reading the meeting agenda. And the reports I have sent through the previous Friday.

So, they are not prepared?

Yes. It is common for a meeting to start and for someone to say “I haven’t had time to read that”.

And?

We stop and give a quick overview. You know what, as I am saying these words I want to kick myself. It is so obvious. I need a team that come prepared. A team that have read everything in advance. An informed team. Then we can move quickly and make some decisions. An activity that is sadly lacking in many of our meetings.

Don’t you make many decisions in these meetings?

Not really. But, I can see how we can change that.

So talk to me about the rest of the meeting. You mentioned an agenda.

Yes, but and here I go again. We don’t follow that. We get bogged down in an issue.

Bogged down?

Yes, we can often get into a lot of detail about some operational issues.

I thought it was a sales meeting?

It is supposed to be, but.

Ah! The but.

Yes, Ronan, I get the point. I suppose I allowed this to continue, but it serves no purpose. Often it results in a lot of negativity. The opposite of what I am trying to achieve in these sessions.

So, from what I have heard so far, your team arrive late. They are unprepared. They don’t follow any fixed agenda. And the meetings often end up operationally focused.

Ronan, thanks for that. It is like a smack in the face. But, it is all true. And we haven’t discussed how certain team members dominate the discussions. And don’t get me started on the lack of accountability to agreed actions.

I think you are a little bit harsh on yourself. Your meetings are similar to at least 95% of the sales meetings I have attended. And everything you have outlined is fixable. But how would you suggest you start?

I’m going to have a session with my team first. I know I have made it seem like it is their problem. But, I have to take responsibility for allowing it to continue. And you know what? I am certain they will embrace a change in how we structure these meetings. They hate them too. I can see it in their faces week in, week out.

That will make it easier.

Yes. And I want to involve them in the discussion. The critical areas are
1) Our time-keeping. The truth is we are never late for client meetings. So, why an internal meeting? We need to elevate the importance of our own meetings.
2) Our preparedness. The same rule applies. We would never attend a client meeting without reading the relevant materials and emails involved. So, why are we doing it internally?
3) Our operational focus. We need to agree on a new non-operational structure. We can hold our operational meetings separately.
I guess there are others, but I am going to start with those 3 areas.

That sounds like an excellent approach. One final question. Why are the meetings an hour long?

Ha! Great question. I don’t know. Aren’t most meetings an hour long?

Yes, but why? Can you achieve the same results in half the time?

Probably. It is worth a little thinking time to assess it.

Imagine, you had a team who arrived on time. Were fully prepared and engaged. Focused on making decisions. Working to a strict agenda. And every meeting was 30-minutes. What impact would that have?

Ronan, the impact question, you so love. We both know the impact would be massive. For the team. For the business. For individuals. I have so much food for thought. I need a little time to process what we have discussed. Let’s catch up in a week or so, and I’ll update you on progress.

Great, talk then.

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Ronan, is a business and sales coach who helps you generate More Profitable Sales. More Sustainably. In Less Time.

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