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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Status Meetings - The Best Hour You Can Spend Building Your Company

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, was asked if the high tech-revolution he was predicting would diminish human contact. He said that as "high-tech" increases, so does "high-touch."

Alvin Toffler predicted that the amount of information reaching people and the number of decisions they would have to make is increasing. We need to learn more to keep up with relevant information so we can make better decisions.

I can think of three ways I learn.

The least effective is figuring things out on my own. It is exhausting, slow, and the results seldom survive "real world" analysis.

Better is learning from seeing words or pictures.

For me the best way to learn is by listening to people who have been successful doing something.

Sales Lab Status Meetings are designed to give participants an opportunity to learn quickly and easily. While the meetings create extraordinary insights into selling more effectively, they also provide practical experience for improving work skills, management skills, relationship skills, communication skills, and team building skills.
These meetings also give management a much better understanding of what is going on inside the organization.

What happens in a weekly Sales Lab Status Meeting?

Sales Tools
At my first public meeting with the management team and sales team at the original Cellular One, my customer told me the previous sales leader had had a rather public humiliation from the group, and had resigned. 
  
Why didn't you tell me this before?” I asked. 

I was afraid you wouldn't show up.” 


So I walked in front of a watching, but not hostile (yet) group, and said, “I have a simple test that shows who in this room should be in sales and who should merely be in management. Would you care to take the test?” 
 
They started looking at each other and then their ringleader said, “We'll do it.” 


I reached in my pocket, pulled out my business card and said, “I'm qualified to be in sales. Anyone else?” 


There was a lot of triumph and sheepishness as cards were shown and excuses made. That was the last meeting where any veterans were caught short, and carrying business cards became an internal badge of professionalism. 


We show sales tools at the start of every status meeting to get everyone in the habit of carrying business cards (or better) and finding better ways to communicate. We ask for a story about using sales tools. Few organizations have developed a practice of systematically defining and using better ways to explain their business. This is where that happens.

At the meeting, we are not looking for something theoretical. We are looking for a story about of something that has worked since the last meeting.

When you execute well in the field, whether discovering something new or executing something previously learned, come to the meeting prepared to demonstrate.

Introductions
We have a defined introduction that provides value in two stages. First is making sure that everyone has something to say when their wits desert them when they have to speak in public.

Second is finding increasingly effective ways to describe what you do. In the meeting, use something that worked in an actual situation. If you can't think of an actual situation, what does that say about the way you did your job?

Promised and Produced
Years ago I noticed that the owners of companies could anticipate and predict what they would accomplish, and that the people working for them could not. Later I learned that it takes about six attempts over six weeks for most people to become deadly accurate at predicting their work. We practice every week so participants can create accurate management information and figure out what is important in their work.

Story about your work
We are looking for your breakthrough since the last meeting. Noticing the breakthrough is a learned skill, and anticipating the breakthrough improves preparation. Sharing the breakthrough defines it to the storyteller, and there is always the possibility that the story may help someone else recognize the opportunity for a similar breakthrough.

I have found that when the story is important to the teller, that is the value, and that the listener may recognize the value immediately, later, or not at all.

Best Thing You Learned
One of the hallmarks of a successful operation is the ability for enough people to learn what they have to know quickly and easily. Everyone needs to be gathering information. When you find good information, share it. The best way to share information is bring samples or handouts and explain how it has already helped you.

What will You Produce By The Next Meeting?
Identifying key deliverables lets you know what you are doing (and how you are doing). It also lets everyone else know what is coming, and who is making progress. 


I have found that when the format of the meeting is understood and anticipated, participants do prior preparation and get better results. Meeting format should not be a barrier to better results.