Achieving anything requires someone to decide how to do it. This is plain and simple but still decision-making can be made extremely complicated.
Think of meetings.
Meetings are the blood and veins of the corporate life. In a good meeting everyone gets to express their opinion and present the pros and cons of different solutions. More than often the final conclusion is that there isn’t enough information available to make the decision. Then someone tells who does what to the next meeting.
This dilemma of decision-making is well illustrated in my favorite quote from the TV series Band of Brothers:
Lieutenant Dike wasn’t a bad leader because he made bad decisions. He was a bad leader because he made no decisions.
Some decision makers live in the illusion that their role is to make people happy by only making right decisions. I will argue that instead they should be making decisions to make people relieved.
I was in a meeting today, where it seemed no conclusion was to be made. When the decision was finally made it was a huge relief for everyone. Not just because the meeting was over but because making a decision allows everyone to spend time on doing instead of further investigating.
Now that I begin the final 30-day countdown of my project, it’s a good time to return to the topic of sales. I’ve never actually wanted to be a salesman. But I’ve wanted to learn about salesmanship and it seems I constantly end up giving sales speeches anyway. The single most useful thing I’ve learned from all sales training it is this:
Always start a meeting with the following steps.
- Small talk. Just something to avoid an awkward silence. I’m not particularly good at this but it helps if you think of a topic or two in advance.
- Available time. No matter what you’ve agreed previously, recheck the available time. After the schedule has been confirmed, neither party should be in a hurry.
- Target. Every meeting must have a target. Preferably one simple understandable target that can be mutually agreed upon.
- Agenda. To get to the target there has to be an agenda. This can be a written agenda or just a verbal agreement on how to proceed to the target.
To remember this, there is a good mnemonic from the initials: SATA. Following these steps is not only useful in a sales meeting but in all other meetings as well. If you’re attending a corporate meeting, it never hurts to ask these questions. If you’re invited, you have the right to know why you are there.