Meetings are events in which I have spent numerous hours sitting in and many more hours discussing and blogging about as I believe they are one of the primary areas where we can save so much time and be so much more productive. As James T. Kirk once said, “A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.” 

Have you noticed how difficult it is to get to talk to anyone? Everyone seems to be in meetings. So they better be effective. The other thing I have noticed is that there is rarely a post mortem or recap about all these meetings. We have these 30 minute power meetings, seldom with an agenda, a scrappy discussion, some notes taken, often forgotten in someone’s Staples notebook, and no real summary on any action required at the end. We just move on to the next meeting.

They have often become social gatherings that even if they started with an agenda, it was not adhered to and there was no post evaluation of what was good and bad or what needed to be done.

Unfortunately, we seem to carry these habits across to meetings with the customer. We seldom measure our success in a meeting. But can we even measure the success of our meeting? Of course we can, as long as we have an idea before the meeting begins of what success should look like. In other words, what are we trying to achieve? What does success actually look like?

How do we set our expectations with the customer for a meeting? And why is it important? David Alev wisely said, “You cannot manage expectations unless you monitor them.” I think we can agree.

Such thinking starts with what I would call setting SMART objectives. A SMART i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound objective could be something like:

I want Jim Briggs of Sports Inc. to agree on spending a marketing budget of $100,000 against latex products for 2016, by 1-December 2015.

This is a fairly straightforward statement. So having set the objective for the meeting, how do we measure it’s success? By setting ourselves a Best Possible Outcome and a Least Acceptable Outcome.

Let’s say this meeting is in October 2015. What would the best (reasonable) outcome of this meeting be, one that has resulted in the customer agreeing to some form of action to move things forward? How about…

Jim Briggs agrees in principle to the suggested marketing budget but needs to check his total budget and will be ready to make a final decision at our next meeting in November.

This result moves the process forward towards the ultimate goal and sets us up for potential success. But we have to be realistic and have in mind a Least Acceptable Outcome.

Jim Briggs thinks the number is too high and will discuss with his Boss. 

Such a simple example demonstrates how we can set an objective which is measurable, and allows us measure the progress we are making. There are 3 things to help you measure the success of a meeting. EVERY customer meeting should have these three things; A SMART objective, a Best Possible Outcome and a Least Acceptable Outcome which in both cases moves things forward, one quicker than the other!

Lastly, if a team uses these three simple measures, we can use a common language to be able to evaluate together as to whether we achieved a successful meeting or not.

Have you or your team struggled with measuring the success of meetings? Have you got a simple way to measure meeting success?


About the Author:

I am the customer relationship mentor, who helps those responsible for their company’s most important customers, to build and maintain their customer relationships and keep them happy, so that they can protect & grow their business.

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