“Meetings, Bloody meetings!” So goes the refrain – and the heading – in the hilarious management training videos from John Cleese’s company in the 1970’s. A well-run meeting is a rare and beautiful thing. A poorly run meeting – well that’s the norm in most companies. They become a forum for delaying or avoiding decisions rather than arriving at them.

In the sales world good, well-qualified meetings with customers and prospects who have budget, the power to make decisions, a need for your product and a timeframe for making a change are worth their weight in gold. Poor meetings are a waste of your time and their time – and time is the most precious resource. They’re not even good practice.

Many managers work off the principle that the more qualified meetings you have, the more deals you’ll close. It’s largely right of course. Take two sales people with identical abilities, identical opportunities, but one with twice the opportunities of the other, and one will close 12 deals and the other will close 6. The more calls you put in, the more conversations you have, the more meetings you make, the more quotes or proposals you submit, the more deals you win, as long as you’re following a defined sales process.

It’s not only about working harder to be more successful though. It’s about working smarter, and coaching people to work smarter.  If you want your team to be more effective – ie more successful – and you’ve identified that your team needs more meetings, there are a number of things you can do to increase the performance of your sales team without having to add to your sales team. Here are ten of them:

– Is a face-to-face meeting necessary? Would a (video)conference call do? Could we do a web-based meeting?

– what’s the travel time like to meetings, from meetings, between meetings? Could it be better organised?

– could our sales team be better split geographically to optimise the number of meetings?

– is our team properly prepared for the meetings, so that they can close deals with the minimum number of meetings?

– what are the behaviours that drive more meetings? Better leads, better telephone work, better sales skills, better emails and collateral?

– who’s doing well at meetings that we can celebrate so that others can learn from their best practice?

– who needs coaching or other support to get more meetings?

– what sales technology can we use to help us manage the sales process?

– what sales technology can we use to optimise meeting routes and geographical clustering?

– what sales technology reports on meeting productivity can gives us insight to make improvements and correct poor behaviours early?

Maximising your customer contact and minimising your non-contact activities help you maximise your sales success. If your business is relatively high deal volume and small deal size, you need to make this your mantra. Meetings, blessed meetings!