How to Run Your Morning Req Meeting
When we launch a new client project with a brand new customer we start off by spending a few days in their office so we can get to know the team, understand their processes and best practices and ultimately benchmark their effectiveness against industry best practices. This helps us capture their “current state” so that we can create a sales road map to help our clients achieve their desired “future state.”
One of the more interesting aspects of this exercise is sitting in on the daily sales meeting otherwise known as the requirements or req meeting. Personally, I love sitting in on these meetings because I find it really interesting seeing how they’re run from one IT staffing firm to the next. Some do an excellent job with it and many others struggle with it. Naturally we get many, many owners, sales managers and sales reps asking us "what do you think of our daily req meeting?" We get this question quite a bit because many of those people feel their daily req meeting is a waste of time.
In this blog post I am going to share with you the best practices that I have learned over the years for running your daily sales meeting. And by the way, the good news is, if you feel like your daily sales meeting is redundant or a waste of time and not effective, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn how how you can improve the effectiveness of your daily req meeting....
The first question we need to answer is, why have a meeting in the first place? In fact, we hear many employees complaining, “why so many meetings?”
These team meetings are often a critical piece of starting to build a coaching culture. Team meetings, if led properly, drive deliverables by holding people accountable. Without a team meeting, the “untruths” or as Jim Collins would say, "the brutal facts of reality" can’t come out. In other words, it is easier for people to hide and/or withhold information or exaggerate to their manager about the reality of their job orders and where they stand with their opportunities, clients and candidates in a one-on-one meeting.
When leaders confront team members on issues in front of the entire team including their peers this doesn't happen. And if it does those team members will get called out by their peers. Confrontation will surely ensue. When goals are at stake and accountability is an issue the daily team meeting keeps things moving much more effectively than if the manager just met with team members one-on-one, if the meeting is led correctly. Well run daily req meetings essentially accelerate the pace of deliverables and they take pressure off the manager.
The Very Basics
Let’s first start with the very basics.
- Who is required to attend the meeting?
- What time does the meeting start?
- Who runs the meeting?
- Where is the meeting held?
It is critically important that your meeting start at the same time every day. It is also important that it start on time every day. If you say the meeting starts between 8:30 and 9:00 or we will start "around 8:45" it sends a very wishy-washy message to the team. Management 101 tells us that to get consistent results you need to send a consistent message to your team. So you need to start your meeting every day at the same time, promptly.
All team members including the sales manager, recruiting manager and all recruiters and sales reps should be in attendance. While I understand there can be some exceptions, sales reps should not be scheduling meetings at this time. The meeting should take top priority, every day, no exceptions. If sales reps expect recruiters to work their reqs, they need to be in the morning meetings ready, able and willing to answer their questions and "sell" their opportunities to the recruiting team.
To me, this is the same as a professional athlete wanting to play in the game. If you want to play in the game, you need to show up and participate for practice during the week. It may sound hardcore but it really isn't. This is how professionals including top performers run their business. This is about establishing a rhythm or cadence. This is how you build your culture. Consistency is key.
Finally, you need to have a leader lead the meeting. No duhhh Dan! Surprisingly we often see either an individual contributor leading the meeting and/or we don’t see any leader in the morning meeting. This shouldn’t be acceptable. Your leader(s) should be running the meeting. Every day.
At a high level, you want to cover the following objectives for your morning req meeting.
- Prior Day Accomplishments. The leader should be asking specific, pointed questions to uncover what goals or objectives were achieved from the prior day (This is where people should report on how they performed against their daily KPI's such as number of calls, number of submittals, number of interviews, number of client meetings, etc). This is about accountability, the leader and team needs to hear specifics. Everyone needs to share with the team what they did or did not accomplish.
- Bottlenecks/issues with existing opportunities. The leader’s job is to identify the issues with their opportunities in the pipeline and to make sure their is a clear plan in place to to overcome the bottlenecks. Team members are to report back their results in front of the group in the following days req meeting. (accountability).
- Today’s Goals. The leader should be asking team members what their specific (quantifiable) goals and objectives are for the day. Again, back to daily metrics or KPI's, what are people committing to? When recruiters and sales people commit to quantifiable goals in front of their peers it holds them accountable because of the peer pressure. Nobody wants to look bad in front of their peers.
- Duration & Format. The meeting should be a stand up meeting. Everyone should stand up, not sit. The reason is the meeting is suppose to be quick so there is no need to sit. The meeting should be 15 minutes max (very large teams may take slightly longer)
In all of my years in this business, the only meeting preparation that I have seen sales and recruiting managers take is printing off a list of open job orders. Leaders must prepare for these meetings and devise questions they will ask to get to the root issues.
As a general rule, the leader should spend twice the amount of time on preparation as they do in the meeting. The quality of your meeting is directly tied back to the preparation that went into. In this case they should plan on 30 minutes preparing for the meeting. Prior to the meeting the leader should be reviewing the open job orders by stage in their CRM/ATS. To do this you will need to have your CRM or ATS configured to your sales process.
The managers should be looking at each job requirement and identifying how long each job has sat in each stage. To a certain degree, the effectiveness of your meeting and the questions you (the leader ) ask during the meeting is tied to the configuration effectiveness of your CRM/ATS configuration. For example, if you have no process or your stages are not clearly defined or based on subjectivity, you won’t be able to quickly and easily identify bottlenecks which means you will have to ask a ton of questions to get to the root issue with EVERY job order. This in turn will mean your meeting will last longer than 15 minutes (not good). This makes it very difficult and time consuming to identify the right solution and provide the right coaching.
And, we don't want these meetings to be 30, 45 or 60 minutes long. More on that in a minute.
As the leader evaluates the sales pipeline he or she should be preparing the following types of questions to be asked of their sales rep (regarding their associated job orders):
- Why is this job still sitting in this stage?
- What steps were taken yesterday to move this opportunity forward and why did or didn't they work?
- What are the specific issues/bottlenecks preventing the req from moving forward?
- What specific action items/strategies will the sales rep and recruiter take today to remove the obstacle and advanced the deal forward?
- What help if any do team members need and from who (longer/side conversations on the specific details should be taken offline, not in the meeting. We want to keep this to 15 minutes. Just identify the issues and determine that help is needed and take the rest offline.
That is it. We want to identify the issues and bottlenecks, make sure people have a plan or strategy to move the opportunity forward (keep in mind the leader needs to make sure team members are not going to just keep trying the same thing day after day to and hope for a different results). The specific details of the plan and what help the rep or recruiter needs to move the opportunity forward should not be discussed in the meeting. That can be discussed offline.
These questions and the process should be repeated on the recruiting side. The point of all of this is, the leader’s job is to lead the meeting by asking the right questions so that the sales team and the recruiters share with the group what the specific bottlenecks and issues are with each opportunity. The second part is the leader is forcing (by asking questions) team members to share with the group what their plan is to fix the issue. Let me get a little more granular with some examples.
Running the Meeting
When it comes to running the meeting, ideally everyone should be in a conference room where all team members can see your sales pipeline in your CRM/ATS. The leader can work through the open job orders by stage for everyone to see. If you don't have this capability then you should gather by your req board. At a minimum you should have a req board posted in an area where everyone can see the open jobs, current status and where in the sales cycle it sits.
To begin the meeting the leader should start with any rep or recruiter, it doesn't matter. Spend 2-5 minutes with each rep and recruiter asking them open ended questions that uncover:
- Daily KPI's/indicators from the day before (what did the rep/recruiter accomplish yesterday and what is your goal today?) This brings accountability to the team members. They are now exposed in front of their peers on what they are actually doing, how hard they are working.
Spend 2-5 minutes with each rep and recruiter asking them open ended questions that uncover:
- Where are you stuck?
- What is the bottleneck? Sales? Recruiting?
- Who has run into a road block?
Spend 2-5 minutes with each rep and recruiter asking them open ended questions that uncover:
- Goals/commitments for the day
Common Scenarios in Daily Req Meetings
Here is what is not acceptable by a sales rep who has been trying to get feedback for 3 days.
- “I will try to get feedback today”
- “I have a message into the manager”
Here is what is not acceptable by a recruiter who is struggling to find candidates.
- “I have a some calls out”
- “I left a few messages”
- “I will work on it again today”
The responses are vague and nebulous and don't tell us anything about what is being done to close the deal. The leader should not tolerate this behavior. Instead, the leader needs to dig into the details by asking the right questions to find out what the sales rep’s plan is to do something differently today that he or she has not tried in the past to get feedback. The leaders job is to dig into the details to find out what the recruiter is going to do differently today to find candidates that they didn’t do in prior days. This is an accountability meeting. We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The leaders job is to make sure his or her people are NOT doing this. It's an insanity check.
Nobody Speaks up or Asks for Help.....Your Meetings Lack Conflict
Another common challenges in daily req. meetings is that sales people and recruiters very rarely speak up and admit they need help. If your daily meetings are mundane and boring where you feel like you talk about the same things over and over but nobody is asking for help and admitting they're stuck, you may very well have a trust issue within your team.
Think about it, people don't want to admit they need help because that would make them look incompetent to their peers. Nobody wants to look incompetent in front of their peers. So what do people do? They just give lip service, a "head bob" or they simply agree with whatever the leader says but the behavior never changes. Results never change. Why? Because if people don't speak up and share how they really feel they can't commit.
Part of the leaders job is to create a culture where team members ask each other the tough questions, where healthy, passionate debate is encouraged, where mistakes are tolerated and expected. This is how we learn and grow. To truly have trust among your team, team members should be comfortable admitting their mistakes and that they don't have all of the answers and that they need help. This goes for the leader as well.
In short, your meetings should have conflict. Yes, conflict. Conflict is healthy. There is always going to be tension between sales and recruiting and the leader needs to make sure that team members are not holding back with each other. When people hold back they don't commit and when people fail to commit you end up with a sales culture where coming in second place is acceptable. I don't think anybody wants to be on a team where coming in second place is acceptable.
Now let me be clear about what I mean regarding conflict and "holding back." First, I am not talking about employees being rude and disrespectful or just a flat out jerk to each other. If a rep is has been told for four days in a row (by a recruiter) "I still don't have any candidates, I will make some more calls today," the culture should be that the rep asks the recruiter questions that bring more clarity:
- how many candidates they have called,
- how many they have spoken with and what the general challenges are with finding candidates.
The sales rep has a right to understand exactly what has been done to find candidates so that he or she can share that information with the client. In turn the recruiter should share with the sales rep what the bottlenecks are and together they should be collaborate to come up with a new plan (don't continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result).
I had a sales rep I was coaching several years back. His recruiting team had 3 candidates submitted to a client and they had been waiting on client feedback for over a week. They asked the sales rep for an update everyday in their daily req. meeting and the sales rep always replied "I have a message into the client and I will try back today."
What the sales rep FAILED TO SHARE with his recruiting team was that he in fact had 4 voice mail messages and multiple email messages into the client and none of them had been returned. The sales rep failed to share this information because he was afraid of looking incompetent to his recruiters but in the end he lost even more credibility and ultimately their trust. Instead, he should have been honest from day 1 about the lack of feedback.
Here is another common scenario:
Dan the sales rep brings in a job order and Gerry the recruiter has been working on it for 7 days. Gerry however doesn't totally believe the job order is fully qualified. Gerry has not "totally bought into" the opportunity. Gerry and Dan however are buddies, they go out for beers on Thursday's after work and hang out outside of work. Gerry doesn't want to mess up his friendship with Dan by telling him his job order is not qualified. Gerry doesn't feel comfortable telling Dan he doesn't know how to do his job.
So what does Gerry do? Gerry continues to tell Dan he is working on his job order but deep inside Gerry know's he is only giving it a half hearted effort. Dan meanwhile suspects something is fishy but he too doesn't want to "call Gerry out" on his lack of effort or results because he doesn't want to jeopardize the friendship.
The problem is Dan and Gerry "trust each other" on a certain level (Gerry will pick up my lunch if I have no $$ on me) but when it comes to making themselves vulnerable in front of each other and the team and calling each other out there is no trust. This is a different level of trust. Teams need to have this level of trust in order to engage in the healthy, passionate debate I referred to earlier.
I see this behavior play out in daily rec. meetings all the time. It is the leaders job to detect this behavior and take action on it to resolve it. Remember, if you are not pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone you are most likely not learning and if you are not learning you are not growing.
For teams that are trying to "right the ship", and especially those dealing with accountability issues, daily req meetings are an incredible opportunity--when done the right way. That means asking the right questions, focusing on the right thing, and having healty conflict that creates accountability. What about you? How do you run your daily rec. meetings? What are your best practices? What do you find most challenging?
It goes without saying that running successful req meetings requires accountability and trust. When people aren't pulling their weight, or they're not being effective, they need to acknowledge this, own up to it, and explain how they will overcome any roadblocks. If they're not sure how to improve, they need to trust that they can speak up and get help. In other words, to improve your morning req meetings, you need a coaching culture that drives accountability, effectiveness, and results. So download our free eBook: How to Create a Culture of Accountability Through Coaching and Empowerment.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.