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Are all the meetings you schedule for your sales team really necessary?

Each year, companies collectively waste more than $37 billion on unproductive meetings. What’s more, the Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 managers to find out what they thought about meetings. The results weren’t pretty:

  • 65% say meetings prevent them from finishing their own work
  • 71% agree that meetings are unproductive and inefficient
  • 64% believe meetings prevent them from deep thinking
  • 62% say meetings come at the expense of team-building opportunities

While meetings are often necessary for team communication and collaboration, too many wind up being a waste of time without any productive outcomes. Participants multitask, usually staring into their phones or laptops. Meetings lack direction and seem to be held just for the sake of holding a meeting.

The last thing you want is to waste your sales team’s time by forcing them to attend unproductive meetings. Not only will they be frustrated, but productivity will suffer, too; it’ll be that much harder for them to meet their quotas.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five tips sales managers can use to run meetings that matter.

1. Have an agenda and stick to it

A recent study found that the No. 1 complaint employees have about meetings is that they often veer off-course due to a lack of preparation by the manager. Instead of accomplishing anything, employees are forced to listen to a disjointed monologue or free-for-all discussion.

Creating an agenda and sharing it with participants ahead of time sets clear expectations. Attendees can prepare for the discussion, and the agenda ensures a more productive meeting.

2. Keep meetings to a minimum

The Harvard Business Review article also revealed that meetings have become more common—and longer—over the last half-century. Today, executives spend roughly 23 hours stuck in meetings each week; they spent less than 10 hours each week in meetings during the 1960s.

Things aren’t much better at the employee level. According to Atlassian, the average employee attends 62 meetings a month, wasting 31 hours every four weeks.

Don’t schedule meetings just for the sake of scheduling meetings. Also, try to avoid scheduling meetings that last more than an hour; any longer and people lose focus fast. And make sure meetings start and end on time. No one likes getting in a room or jumping on the phone only to wait 10 minutes for the discussion to begin. After all, any time not selling hurts the performance of your team.

3. Provide skill-building and education

Use meetings as a training opportunity for your sales team. Professional development is critical to the success of your sales reps, so consider ways to hone their skills during your regular meetings. Perhaps conduct group learning activities to review sales training or invite a guest speaker who can share industry insight.

4. Make meetings interactive

A recent study revealed that more than 60% of meeting participants focus on other tasks when they’re on conference calls. People don’t pay any more attention during the average in-person meeting, either.

There’s a simple fix to keep people focused: Do interactive group activities that keep everyone alert. For example, you might try role playing a certain sales scenario. You can also consider using icebreaker games to open each meeting so your team is engaged right off the bat.

5. Use the time to recognize a job well done

Everyone likes being recognized for their hard work. A recent survey indicated that 58% of employees believe their managers could improve engagement simply by recognizing their team’s contributions more regularly.

Meetings present a great opportunity for employee-recognition initiatives. Hand out monthly awards and other accolades to high performers. Compliment employees who’ve gone above and beyond on a job well done. Devoting time on employee recognition will motivate your team and keep them engaged during meetings.

Many employees—and managers, too—might not like meetings. But they’re a necessary function of any successful business, and with the right approach, meetings can help develop a more engaged and productive team.

Author Bio

Shawn Willett

Shawn Willett is Senior Director, Marketing Programs at SAP Sales Cloud, part of the SAP Customer Experience unit of SAP. With over 20 years of experience in enterprise software roles, he is responsible for articulating the unique benefits that SAP Sales Cloud's suite of sales effectiveness applications can provide to modern sales organizations.

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