Wasted time in unproductive sales meetings is an all too familiar story. Meetings, especially for B2B salespeople, are part of doing business. By many estimates, however, salespeople waste some 25%-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, business intelligence or relationship management systems 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 of this meeting?” cannot be answered – don’t hold a meeting.
Salespeople are notorious for flying by the seat of their pants. They often 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 meeting 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 – talking far more than listening – and then 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 to successful selling.
Time and again, I’ve seen sellers walk out of a meeting without securing the commitment for a specific next action, like locking in the next phone call. Everyone has their calendar in hand, on their phone. Don’t leave a meeting without a scheduled commitment to move forward. If you leave without a defined next action, you might spend weeks trying to rebuild any momentum you had.
#5: Failure to do their homework.
This is probably my all-time pet peeve. Back in the day, I went to the library to do my homework. The data available was largely out of date, but it was all we had to go on.
These days 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 makes it all about the buyer. They do that by clearly demonstrating that they’ve learned about the buyer’s business, have some idea of what’s important to them and then discuss potential solutions to help solve their business problem.
Meeting success relies on…
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 find themselves running from meeting to meeting with no sales deals to show for it.