Meetings are "management in action," and are opportunities for people to gather in groups to solve problems, make decisions, share information and exchange views and opinions.
However, meetings are like advertising. It is estimated that 50% of all the dollars spent on advertising is wasted, but no one is certain which 50% it is so they don’t know what to eliminate. In meetings, it is also estimated that 50% of the time is wasted, but no one is quite certain which is the unnecessary half to eliminate.
As a New Home and Neighborhood Sales Manager, the way you conduct a meeting and your performance in a meeting are major factors comprising a successful career. In a meeting you are observed by both supervisors and subordinates. You can beam — or you can bomb — but you cannot hide.
A MEETING IS AN INVESTMENT
There is a cost associated with each meeting; therefore, there must be a return (profit) in excess of the cost. To determine the cost, multiply the average profit of just one home or homesite sale that could occur during your sales meeting. Also, take into account the average commission and wages of the participants, times the number of hours of the meeting.
The cost of a meeting in never taken into account, yet you will find this one simple exercise reveals a huge expenditure that normally equates to thousands of dollars an hour. Bottom line: You are in business to create a profit and there is no justifiable reason to be in business without profiting. Therefore, if you discover your sale’s meeting is an expenditure that equals thousands of dollars per hour, then the return on your investment must be greater than the cost of the meeting.
Why do most salespeople justifiably dislike sales meetings?
1. The meeting has no written agenda.
2. The meeting is run by someone who is uncomfortable with, or who cannot facilitate, a meeting.
3. Most meetings are glorified policy sessions and the topics center around forms, paperwork and trivial non-sales-related topics that take twice as long as they should to discuss and will probably change next week.
4. Meetings do not have enough "real world" selling lessons.
5. Most meetings start and end late, allowing latecomers to penalize the prompt attendees.
6. Some salespeople people think they know everything and should be out selling and earning a profit instead of wasting time in a meeting.
So what is the solution? How do you design and conduct a great sale’s meeting every time? It’s simple: plan and prepare. Set an agenda and stick to it. Make it fun, be productive and include participation by everyone. Here are some tips:
Always have a written agenda. The biggest mistake is to think the only one who needs an agenda is you. Organize your topics in order of importance and distribute the agenda 24 to 48 hours in advance so participants can be prepared.
Avoid the Demotivators. The most unsuccessful meetings do things like going over paperwork, company policies, handling personal disputes and verbally re-enforcing what’s wrong. Try this: Have an instruction sheet for the new policy and/or forms and deliver it by e-mail. Include specific instructions in your e-mail and always give the reason(s) why this new policy or form is necessary. Conclude your e-mail by stating: Questions and concerns about the policy or form are to be directed to me.
Have your meeting early in the morning. Include a healthier food such as bagels, fresh fruit and juice, water and plenty of hot coffee prepared in advance. Avoid the pastries and soft drinks. They deplete energy and actually cause a lack of participation.
Like a good razor: Start sharp, end sharp, be sharp. Fine the late ones or simply shut the door. Regardless, START ON TIME, END ON TIME and MOTIVATE OTHERS TO FOLLOW YOUR LEAD.
Stress the positive. Support your people in public, especially among their peers and in front of management. If you have a negative participant or a negative comment to make, be sure to say it to him or her privately.
Use the meeting as a weekly training session. Remember your return on investment. The goal is to motivate, teach and learn. The training can be A) led by the manager B) provided by experts C) led by individual salespeople people or D) enhanced by role-playing and/or videotapes and books.
Use the meeting to update the staff’s product knowledge. Let construction and/or land planning experts from other departments within your company keep the team abreast of new materials and processes, as well as sharpen the team’s construction knowledge.
Reward positive behaviors from the previous week. Present awards and share plenty of success stories. This helps people feel better when they leave the meeting than when they arrived and they’ll anticipate the next one.
Relate expectations of the upcoming week. Have each salesperson verbally affirm what they will accomplish and have each manager affirm how they will assist the salesperson in the accomplishment of the goal.
End on a high note. Include two to three minutes of a motivational highlight, a success story of a team member, a quote, a video clip or an inspirational reading. Give the team something that causes them to walk through the wall rather than leave through the door.
Meetings should help salespeople stay focused on the result — making the sale. In the face of your day-to-day responsibilities, your meetings are the only "group opportunity" to make a substantial difference. Those attending are exchanging something very valuable and irreplaceable — their time — in order to be there. So don’t disappoint them.