Thursday, October 27, 2016

Close The Deal: 5 Ways to Make Your Next Sales Meeting More Productive

Last week my blog focused on tips for running a productive business meeting. As I was writing, my mind naturally transitioned from internal meetings to sales calls: At its core, Shamrock is a sales organization. And because I spent years as a straight-commission sales rep, I have some experience regarding what works to set the stage for a more effective sales meeting. Now, as an executive, this type of structure is what I appreciate when a salesperson calls on me:
  1. Reconfirm the start and end time. This helps to keep the meeting on track and sends the message to your customer that you value his/her time.
  2. Reiterate the reason for the meeting. Are you reviewing an existing order? Planning to introduce a new product or solution? Be specific. And also, be flexible: The client might have more pressing issues that have come up since you scheduled the meeting a week ago; be ready to pivot and redirect to best meet your customer’s needs.
  3. Be Prepared. To maximize meeting productivity, make sure you have all the
    information you need by preparing questions before you get there. 
  4. Ask questions. Set the tone for your meeting by letting your customer know that this isn’t a one-way sales pitch: “I’m sure you’re going to have questions for me—I know l have questions for you.” This is a subliminal way to hint that communication is two-way street. 
  5. Identify next steps. Make a list of actionable items throughout the meeting. Identify what needs to be done to move the sales process along—maybe there are benchmarks that you’ll need to hit to move the process forward. Remember: Not every meeting results in a sale. It could be that there is no future—and that’s ok, too. Either way, you want to know where you stand before you leave the meeting.
Sales is all about serving the customer: Let them be heard—and then really hear what they have to say. The rest is all about following up with quality products/services and personal service. At the end of day, regardless of our industry or market, we all want to work with a sales rep who just gets us—and then gets it done.

Good luck,
Tim Connor

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stop Wasting Time: 4 Tips for Running an Effective Meeting

Workplace studies show that most of us aren’t fully engaged during work meetings. On average, 91% of us daydream during meetings and a surprising 39% admit to falling asleep. Maybe that’s because we have too many meetings on our calendars: Americans attend an average of 60+ meetings each month; and with half of every meeting flagged as wasted time, that equals 31 unproductive hours per month. That’s a lot of lost time—and money.

But, the fact remains that internal business meetings are essential for gathering people together to share ideas, garner input and solve problems. So, how we do we make meetings more productive? Author, radio host and business guru, Dave Ramsey, offers some advice that I think is worth sharing. Here’s a quick summary of his four pointers for effective meetings:
  1. Set A Time Limit. We’ve all been there: The runaway meeting that goes on and on, taking twice as long as necessary. This is why every meeting requires a set time limit. Then, if the discussion gets off-track, you can remind everyone that time is limited. If an issue isn’t resolved or needs more attention, delegate: Assign someone to work on it and report back. Then, more on.
  2. Stick To An Agenda. Productive meetings require a framework: Set an agenda and send it to all participants in advance so that they can prepare. And then once the meeting begins, stick to it. A set agenda keeps the discussion on-topic and on-task. 
  3. Stand Your Ground. Ramsey says that if team members aren’t picking up verbal cues that a meeting is over, simply stand up. If that doesn’t work, head towards the door. 
  4. Change The Scenery. Spark your team’s creativity by trying different locations for meetings. Move out of the conference room and take it outside or head to the corner coffee shop; set up your brainstorming session in the warehouse or meet in your company lounge. Why not solicit ideas from your team? A change in locale is a great way to mix things up and engage participants, particularly for a regularly scheduled/standing meeting.
Work meetings aren’t going anywhere—they are a necessary part of everyday operations for many of our businesses. Implementing these simple, practical ideas can help you make those sessions more productive, and even, enjoyable.

For sales meetings, the approach is slightly different—next week I’ll share my tips for making the most out of your next sales call. 

Good luck,
Tim Connor