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How to Make Sales and Marketing Meetings More Effective
Like your CRM, CMS, BI analytics package, and marketing automation, your sales and marketing meetings are a tool — and you get out of them what you put in. If you put very little effort into making your meetings useful, they’ll degrade into a time waster, where sales and marketing team members glaze over for a half an hour.
On the other hand, if you tailor your meetings to the needs of your team and create an exciting, collaborative environment where everyone feels supported, challenged, and eventually rewarded, your sales and marketing meetings can be more effective than you thought possible.
Below you’ll find several strategies for generating finely-tuned meetings. But also, make sure to talk to your people. They’ll often know what they’re missing and what could make the department stronger. You just need to ask.
SET A REGULAR SCHEDULE
Like Goldilocks, meetings are most effective when there aren’t too many of them, but also not too few. Hold more than you need, and you’ll find your team discussing the same things repeatedly while losing productive sales time. Hold too few and people’s progress and motivation can flag. You need to find the amount that’s “just right” for your team, and then commit to it in a regular schedule.
Quarterly sales and marketing meetings are always a good idea. Most organizations benefit from monthly meetings with a tighter focus, as well. Weekly meetings can be useful, particularly for large teams, or in rapidly shifting industries, but many companies may find them unnecessary. Whichever schedule you adopt, try to stick with it a much as possible.
Of course, feel free to supplement your scheduled meetings when they’re warranted. A schedule ensures you’re meeting regularly, but it isn’t set in stone.
CREATE AN AGENDA
In Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s hard-driving salesman character made “ABC: Always Be Closing” famous. But another acronym is equally important for your sales meetings — AHA: Always Have an Agenda.
This is good advice for any sort of meeting, but particularly in a sales and marketing meeting, where a lack of structure can quickly lead to spinning wheels and snoozing associates.
Your agenda should list the specific topics to be discussed, who will be leading each section, and how much time each topic is allocated. Email your agenda a day or two ahead of time so that people can prepare to share effectively.
Having an agenda helps keep your meeting moving quickly. Idle chatter is limited when people understand that each topic has a deadline. People also focus better when they understand what’s expected of them.
ENCOURAGE CLOSE COLLABORATION BETWEEN SALES AND MARKETING
No doubt your two departments already work together. Effective collaboration is critical to success. But they could almost certainly be doing a better job. You can increase their performance by creating meeting processes that stress close departmental integration.
Ensure that both departments are seeking input from the other whenever it would be helpful. Most organizations routinely include marketing personnel on important sales updates. But how often does the arrow point in the opposite direction. Do your marketing people look for insights from sales while developing marketing materials? Do your salespeople solicit marketing for their opinion on how those materials could be implemented within the sales process?
Sales and marketing are two sides of the same activity. The more they can support each other and develop an integrated approach, the more effective they’ll be.
“SHOW ME THE DATA!”
Ground your meetings with the facts. Sales and marketing meetings that focus on general trends, gut feelings, and wishful thinking will almost always lead you astray. Without hard data, your people won’t have a full understanding of what’s working in the sales pipeline, and where things can improve.
But be choosy about the metrics you analyze. You don’t need to discuss everything you’re measuring in every meeting. You can reserve your more esoteric benchmarks for monthly or quarterly sales meetings. For weekly (if you have them) or sporadic, guerilla-style meetings, focus instead on your most essential KPIs. Pay attention to what’s new and novel, not on what’s remaining constant.
INCLUDE TIME FOR EDUCATION
Having your staff share interesting and useful information about their side of the business is another way to foster interdepartmental integration. It’s also a great team-building exercise.
Consider these examples; When sales has a better understanding of how marketing is getting leads, they’ll have a stronger understanding of their audience. On the other side, marketing can tailor their messages to better fit the customer journey when they understand the sales department’s strengths.
Carve at least ten minutes out of your sales and marketing meetings and allow your employees to talk about interesting things that happen to them on the job, and how those things relate to the entire sales cycle. Each side might take turns instructing the other on something they might be unaware of. This sort of casual knowledge-sharing results in a much more holistic understanding of what it takes to generate new business.
SHARE, SHARE, SHARE!
You’re a team. You should share in each other’s challenges and triumphs. When one member is having a difficult time, they should be able to turn to the team for advice. When a marketing manager has a big win with a particular communication, they should share the good news. When a salesperson lands a big account, the rest of the team should share in the win. Open the end of the your sales and marketing meetings to breaking news, congratulations, troublesome questions — whatever’s on people’s minds.
Let your people know that there are no topics off the table. They should feel free to ask important questions and challenge assumptions, no matter how difficult the conversation might be. Allowing free, supportive communication fosters a sense of community and provides quick access to critical answers.
Remember, your sales and marketing meetings are one of the few times each week/month/quarter that the entire team gets together. Make sure these opportunities lives up to their potential by putting effort required to make them time well spent.