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Meetings don't have to be little more than necessary evils

Sales Moves

Another meeting? About what? We meet, but no one decides – nothing happens. We met last week and all anyone did was gripe.

I hear more complaints about meetings than I do about the people that run them. Well, OK, it`s a tie.

Some of the reasons meetings fail to produce the desired results, or for that matter any results, is that they lack direction, have poor leadership, have weak content, have no agenda, have hidden agendas, get sidetracked, are boring – or all of the above.

Yikes! And look what it costs in productivity by those attending. Ouch!

Well, that got me thinking. What are meetings for anyway? And then it struck me. The secret to the perfect meeting: Meetings should be for a single purpose!

Whatever the objective, to make it pay off – make it a single purpose.

So, here`s a simple formula for meeting success:

1. Define the single purpose.

2. Define the objective(s).

3. Define the expected outcome.

4. Create the content.

5. Make the content transferable.

6. Select the presenters. (There may be others besides you.)

7. Think about the politics when inviting participants.

7.5 Make it attractive to attend. (Do people WANT to attend the meeting, or do they HAVE to attend the meeting? Here`s a harder question: Do they WANT to listen to you, or do they HAVE to listen to you?)

That`s just the beginning – well, almost the beginning. Why don`t you first define all your potential “single purposes?” A-HA! There`s the real beginning. (Notice it`s number one on the list above.) Once you define the purpose of the meeting, the content and objectives are easy to define.

The secret? Ask others for agenda items, input and ideas BEFORE the meeting, and you will have a positive beginning. Start with a temporary agenda and ask for feedback. (HINT: Anyone that responds “Looks good” is lazy and should be left off the list.

Want a list of meeting “single topics” to review and add to? Here are the most common reasons to meet:

1. Meeting to inform.

2. Meeting to organize.

3. Meeting to create a game plan and assign responsibilities.

4. Meeting to brainstorm an idea.

5. Meeting to discuss or further an idea that has been accepted.

6. Meeting to regroup.

7. Meeting to discuss results so far and act or react.

8. Meeting to debrief or discuss a result.

9. Meeting to train.

10. Meeting to calm a rumor or break bad news.

11. Meeting on a regular basis – daily/weekly/monthly meeting (sales, staff, executive committee).

11.5 Meeting to celebrate.

And this last list is a “meeting reality” checklist:

1. Is this meeting really necessary? What is the value of the communication or the expected outcome versus the cost of holding it (including the people cost)?

2. Is there some other way to discuss or disseminate this information? Conference call? Short, individual meetings by phone? E-mail?

3. Should you get input or ideas from other attendees first?

4. How will this meeting affect morale or productivity?

5. How will this meeting impact profitability?

6. Can I use this meeting to praise someone or everyone?

And the reality of brevity…

6.5 Can you make the meeting 30 minutes shorter than you planned? Answer: probably.

Other meeting ideas…

• Serve good food.

• Have someone take notes. Then send the notes summarizing the meeting, as well as the names of those with responsibilities, to all participants.

• Send follow-up on action-based e-mail that may recap the meeting as well, and don`t forget to throw in a few compliments. Try to inject a thought or two.

The meeting is a vital tool for your business growth and sales growth. Your ability to master the process determines who will grow faster – you or your competitor.

Free GitBit: Want an agenda for the perfect sales meeting? Just go to www.gitomer.com; register if you’re a first time user, and enter the word AGENDA in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail



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