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Gathering your sales team and staff together for a meeting is an expensive proposition. Here are five ideas to make your office meetings count.In the sales industry, time is more important than marketing or technology, Ambitious sales people know this, which is why they frequently don’t show up for “yet another office meeting.” They can’t afford to waste the time.

This presents managers with a challenge – and an opportunity – to make office meetings compelling events. Otherwise, they are simply expensive – really expensive – group hugs.

Consider how much it costs to hold a meeting. Gathering together your entire organization – taking them off of the job of prospecting, marketing, servicing and managing your clients’ business – is extremely costly. Twenty five people capable of producing $100 worth of value an hour means the average office meeting is a $2500 or more investment.

Or expense.

So here are three do’s and two don’ts to maximize the value of the weekly office meeting.

  1. Do a review of your sales pipeline. Nothing is more important than your pipeline of potential business. Rather than discuss what has already been captured, review what is in the process of being captured: new leads. This doesn’t mean everyone brings a list of prospects: that’s what your leads management system should be communicating daily. Instead, there should be a manager briefing on the number of new leads generated since the last meeting,  what’s happening to them, how many were thrown away, etc. Include charts and graphs of where the leads are coming from: which marketing sources are working, which are failing, what market areas, property types, price ranges, and so on, are causing consumers to inquire. A discussion should ensue from the sales team on what customers are saying when they are contacted – about the marketplace, their concerns, etc. That’s valuable content for discussion and worth at least 25% of the meeting’s time.
  2. Do some training. Sales organizations are built around knowledge. Dedicate a portion of the meeting to spreading that knowledge throughout the company. Training doesn’t have to be a long, complicated lesson. It could be as simple as asking every person to come prepared to offer one key learning item to the group. Keep it simple: each person must be able to communicate their idea within 60 seconds. It might be a research statistic they recently heard or an insightful comment from a customer or even a simple trick with technology. There is a vast hidden wealth of knowledge locked up in most companies. Use the office meeting to get it out!
  3. Do some planning. The purpose of a business is to create specific outcomes. Every time you get your organization together, review the business plan and look ahead. Spend time validating and reminding everyone of the company’s goals. Identify and discuss progress to date. Analyze successes make sure they get repeated – and discuss challenges to make sure they are overcome. Use meetings to keep everyone focused on the desired outcomes yet to be achieved.
  4. Don’t verbalize memos. Time used during a meeting to “announce” information that could otherwise have been transmitted in a memo, dashboard or email is very expensive. Going around the room announcing “facts and figures” such as new listings, price reductions, dates of open houses or other events, is frustrating to individual salespeople who could otherwise be selling. It’s also frustrating to the company’s efforts to achieve its goals (see 3 above). Use that time instead to group-think problems related to any new information. For example, don’t let a sales agent announce an overpriced listing; let them ask the group for help and ideas on how to bring the listing into the market without being overpriced.
  5. Don’t conduct a meeting without an agenda. Every meeting should follow the same, predictable agenda every time. That’s the only way to structurally transform the time-investment into a useful product of knowledge or skill. Everyone should know – 48 hours in advance – what will be covered, exactly how long, and which specific outcomes will be achieved as a result of their attendance. Even if you want to have a period for “unplanned” issues, plan it into the agenda for the last item, and for a specific allotment of time. Think of your agenda as a “marketing” piece that should offer compelling and useful information about the event to the people you wish to attend.

The challenge of transforming  meetings into valuable events can be exciting; but it starts by realizing that most meetings are symptoms of dysfunctions in the organization. Rather than contributing something to the outcomes of the company and each person’s job, most meetings are merely memos-in-time that waste the production time of everyone who is forced to attend. Consider the opportunity of redesigning your meetings and you’ll soon be counting the dollars in improved production that can occur when you make your meetings count.