Improve Sales Meetings to Improve Sales Win Rates

Ever attended an unproductive sales meeting? No need to answer, it's a rhetorical question.

Sales managers are focused on reprioritizing staff activities in order to help sales reps spend more time selling and less time doing anything other than selling. It's a logical goal, but only a first step in increasing sales productivity, and more importantly, sales success.

Getting more sales people in front of more prospects means more meetings. But more meetings doesn't necessarily translate into shorter sales cycles and increased win rates.

When sales professionals don't apply strategy to meetings they lose limited and valuable engagement time, and when they fail to identify actionable follow-through, they delay sales cycles, and when they don't record meeting content, they fail to deliver valuable information to managers or colleagues – or even make that information available to themselves 6 months later when a prospect reactivates and the sales person barely remembers that a meeting ever took place.

Sales meetings represent the peak of customer engagement. They also represent an inverse relationship between the actual time invested and the most valuable insights gleaned during the sales cycle. And like any other sales activity, meetings should be strategically planned to use limited customer engagement time to maximize that investment and the sale opportunity. In fact anything less than a strategic meeting approach is tantamount to slowing the sale cycle.

Strategic Meeting Tool

I'm always looking to improve team collaboration and I recently reviewed Meeting Mapper from Point N Time Software. The app is available on Salesforce AppExchange, operates on an iPad and effectively maps the roles and dispositions of meeting attendees in a way that aligns sales actions with desired outcomes. But where it really gets interesting is when put into a CRM context.

Meeting Mapper improves CRM operation for sales reps. It integrates with Salesforce to integrate meetings with existing sales methods and processes. By identifying meeting agendas and actions, resources and roles, stances and follow-throughs, sales pros can achieve better meeting results, better notes for sales coaching and sales cycle history, and better integration to their CRM application.

CRM productivity apps must deliver three things to win sales person adoption: seamless integration, extreme ease of use and improved productivity. Fail any one of these three factors and you'll join the masses that have lost time, money and personal credibility.

The CRM integration with Meeting Mapper is built on Force.com, installs in the background and uses an ‘Instant Sync’ to merge records from an offline environment to the cloud CRM system. This last point is key, as the meeting tool is able to operate on an iPad disconnected from the Web, and later asynchronously link up when Internet connectivity is reestablished.

I found the user experience to be quite impressive. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the tool clearly adheres to modern design standards and the overall consumerization of IT which results in an intuitive navigation with little or no training required.

Meeting Mapper

In terms of sales productivity, it's no secret that most CRM systems struggle to deliver actionable intelligence, especially with regard to customer behaviors, actions and advancements. For example, every seasoned sales rep knows that many customers make buying decisions for personal reasons, but justify those decisions with business logic.

Smart sales pros know that they need to uncover those personal motivations to maximize their sales success. Meeting Mapper aids this strategy by helping sales pros identify a prospect's hidden buy criteria, and follow through to satisfy that criteria. Of course the tool also permits diagnosing roles, relationships, dispositions and more to satisfy other criteria critical to winning a sale opportunity.

Once you get past the critical success factors for user adoption and deliver the WIIFM (what's in it for me) to the sales staff, you can then begin to achieve a tremendous sales management benefit in terms of sales coaching. I'm an advocate and ardent defender in what is too often the lost art of sales coaching, which IMHO is one of the single greatest sales activities to both elevate your sales team and increase your sales win rates.

Using a visual representation and color coding to depict buyer roles, personas, relationships, attitudes and more puts the sales manager into the zone and provides a collaboration environment to really gain a quick understanding, talk specifics and brainstorm next best actions. This type of coaching just isn't available when a two hour meeting results in a two sentence activity description in the CRM system.

There’s a lot to like about this product but I hope to see much more. Integrating with Salesforce is a smart start, but I'm hopeful Point N Time will extend their CRM partnerships with other vendors. I'd also like to see more ubiquitous device support, particularly with Android and Surface. Finally, I'd like to see tighter social media integration with both internal private networks, such as Slack in the case of Salesforce, and external social networks. Nonetheless, at this point the company's early progress is impressive and this is clearly one of those solutions to watch.

The bottom line is that by capitalizing on extremely limited but valuable meeting time, applying strategy to every meeting and keeping sales pros focused and engaged on meeting objectives, there's absolutely no question that sale opportunities will be maximized and sales reps will improve their future.