As more meetings go online or are held on the phone due to the current health pandemic, there’s going to be virtual meeting fatigue. But there are ways to avoid common pitfalls and turn scheduled interactions into productive exchanges. Being prepared, keeping everyone focused on the agenda, and ensuring that each meeting is as personal as possible goes a long way to foster engagement, converting interest into action.

Previous studies found that employees have too many meetings each day. In one research report, only 11 percent said that all of their meetings are productive. A another recent study found that managers spend an average of 35 percent of their work time in meetings, and upper managers spend nearly half their work day in scheduled meetings. That means that once you’ve worked to schedule a meeting, you’re going to need to take the extra step and make it worth everyone’s time, or you’ll end up on the wrong end of the statistics. Here’s how to make scheduled meetings productive.

Set an Agenda and Send Reminders

This helps all parties stay on track. Whether you’re in sales and connecting with a prospect, or a loan officer at a credit union setting up an appointment to finalize paperwork, it’s essential that everyone understands the meeting goals and topics to be covered.

If possible, send out the agenda to all meeting attendees 24 hours in advance. You’ll have a chance to prepare research or customer information before it’s time to talk business, and everyone else will come ready with questions or essential paperwork.

Set up reminders as part of your appointment scheduling workflow and have the agenda go out as part of the reminder text or email. This also gives customers the chance to reschedule at a touch of a button if conflicts arise. In addition to providing everyone with relevant information, reaching out ahead of the meeting dramatically decrease no shows. Engageware clients experience appointment show rates of about 90 percent from schedule appointments combined with reminders. 

Personalize the Appointment

It sounds obvious, but don’t waste your time or your client’s going through all the effort to schedule the meeting only to arrive unprepared. Review notes, look at a customer’s history if they’ve done business with you before, and ensure that you have answers to any questions they submitted when they made the appointment. You can’t read minds, but you can show up with the answers to key questions.

All this advance preparation pays off long-term, too. B2B organizations who use scheduling software for sales and marketing appointments are better prepped for person-to-person interactions and convert leads faster while shortening the sales cycle.

Follow Up in a Meaningful Way

And do so at the right time. In many cases, what happens after a meeting is more important than the discussions that occur during the appointment. You’ve presented your product, given your sales pitch, or guided a customer through a transaction, but what next? Will they sign the paperwork to close the deal? Do they needed to passed on to another department as seamlessly as possible?

Knowing when (and how) to follow-up is critical. This can turn a potential sales lead into a definite yes, or demonstrate such great service that a newly-signed customer will refer your business to a friend. Personalize next steps with as much attention to deal that was paid to meeting prep. Consider if it’s best schedule automated follow-up appointment requests based on behavior, or are there opportunities to extend personal invitations to events or classes to keep customers engaged?

Regardless of how the follow up is scheduled, keep the lines of customer communication open. Provide clients and prospects with meaningful updates they care about and remain engaged by offering them the opportunity to initiate future meetings with you via intelligent appointment scheduling.

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