How to Structure Business Meetings That Are Actually Productive

How to Structure Business Meetings That Are Actually Productive

There’s a pretty common phenomenon that a lot of companies are experiencing — you can call it ‘meeting fatigue,’ ‘conference room malaise’ or just a plain old drag. No matter what you call it, it’s often related to the lackluster strategy of trying to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Traditional meetings, the kind that you see so often on 30-second ad spots, and the kind you’ve probably sat through in your professional career development, are often really boring, partly because they’re predictable — a boss may go around and ask each person for certain information related to the team’s job, or he or she may just put on a PowerPoint slide show that takes up to an hour, and goes over the most basic company fundamentals that everybody’s already heard before. Either way, the departments going through these regularly scheduled huddles can tend to get stuck in a rut, where the whole thing just becomes a rote exercise.

Sometimes, managers try to dress up meetings with stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with the job — this can be successful, but other times it backfires, because people just aren’t interested.

So what can you do to revive those regular meetings? One strategy is to use a well-crafted customer relationship management interface as a tool, to start talking about things a little differently. Here are three strategies that managers have shared, that can have a big effect on what comes out of huddles between bosses and team members.

Using a CRM Interface to Display an Important Account

Sometimes, a savvy manager will ask the team to tune out all of the distractions and focus on one “big fish” – an account that will make or break the next quarter. This can make a lot of sense, because isolating big accounts helps people to focus on the right results, but sometimes the information is not just not there.

A boss can say, “let’s hit the Henderson account really hard,” but without context, the direction may be pretty weak.

By contrast, someone who puts up a CRM display on a screen can say a lot about this big account that people are supposed to be working. With just a few clicks of a button, you can showcase the transaction history — what’s been done up until now, who’s been talked to and who has not, and what’s still left to do. At the same time, a lot of the best CRM tools also have dollar amounts neatly showcased, to show everybody what’s really at stake: how big is this deal, really, and how much will it impact overall operations?

Having these kinds of visuals in talking about big accounts can be a real powerful motivator for people. In education, you talk about people who are ‘visual learners’ and in business, in their adulthood, a lot of people are also visually motivated. They may not respond well to the boss’s voice, but they might pay a lot more attention to a single accessible visual model that shows them where the company’s supposed to be going. Instead of just responding to commands, they’re seeing on their own how much a deal is going to benefit everybody, and this instills a deeper motivation in each person to do his or her part to make it happen.

Mine a CRM Platform for Useful Stats

Another way to go is for a boss or manager or other presenter to go through the CRM platform before hand and quickly pull out some of the best statistical information to show a group.

Now this is the key — by statistics, I don’t mean a crabbed set of words and figures on a spreadsheet. With CRM, you can pull out real, compelling data, for example, the dollar amounts resting on each deal (as explained above) and again, some of the history of what’s been done.

For example, you could look at what internal names are showing up consistently on these accounts. If Jackson worked four out of six of the big accounts on the screen, and people see his name come up each time, it makes for a wider conversation about each person’s role in the company. If, on the other hand, the team sees different names on accounts, but some underlying strategy in place, they may be able to suss out a pattern that can show what’s most effective, whether it’s making a different kind of offer, sending a different kind of marketing collateral, etc. When people can see a history of what’s been done, they can brainstorm together about how to move deals forward.

This sounds simple, but it’s actually really important. The same philosophy applies here to overall business operations — CRM allows visual learners to actually pay attention and get motivated. That will lead to more input, more feedback and more initiative, which is what you want. Today’s business managers are figuring out that top-driven leadership is usually not the best way to go. Vanguard businesses these days are, instead, hiring good talent and letting them make their own moves to push the company forward, so that everyone’s working as a concerted team, rather than just responding to orders from above. Getting real, compelling data out of CRM tools helps with that. It gives those people who attend the meeting the “why” instead of just the basics, which helps them form their own conclusions about what’s going on at their desks, and how to improve.

Encourage Employees to Share What They Have Used in the Past Week

Here’s another little tidbit that can go into the mix. Instead of going round robin to ask about everyone’s favorite restaurant, or asking people to simply regurgitate the numbers from their performance folders, managers can ask each person to weigh in on what they like, and what they don’t like, about the CRM. Everybody’s using it, so everybody will have an opinion.

These opinions can be factored into ongoing operations. For example, if somebody just doesn’t like a feature, that feature can be changed. If there’s something that’s getting in the way of deal making, that can be gotten rid of. Or if there’s something that’s missing, that can be added. This gets back to the idea that real, actionable meetings involve changing business processes quickly and transparently, to really focus on what’s important.

A lot of examples of this are going to be based around the CRM features that most companies find most useful. Somebody might talk about how they were able to close a deal, or move one forward, because they knew how to pronounce a client or customer’s name correctly. Somebody probably notated the pronunciation in the comprehensive visual file for that individual person, and because the CRM was linked to the VOIP phone system, whoever was contacting the customer didn’t have to wonder about which customer they were, or how to pronounce their name.

Little things like this make a big difference to customers. Experienced salespeople know the difference between a flowing, positive conversation and a single awkward moment that can throw off the rest of the transaction and ultimately derail a deal. That’s why they develop professional ways to make sure those awkward moments never happen. Superior CRM helps out by supporting career professionals, whether they’re in office or out in the field.

Getting the Best CRM

The three conference rooms strategies above rely on getting customer relationship management products that work for your company and your operations. The best vendors offer satisfaction guarantees on products and services, and make sure they will fit the platforms and devices that you’re using. They help to support the company’s investment in training and implementation. And they deliver systems that have great, easy to use interfaces. Take a look at StrideApp for supporting your company with a modern, sophisticated CRM solution.

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