How to Run Efficient Meetings To Optimize Your Solar Business
A solar business that makes more efficient use of its time will ultimately have more resources to attract more solar leads, more frequently.
Which is why it blows my mind how many entrepreneurs insist on long, frequent meetings.
If you ask me, it’s one of the most destructive habits people bring over from the corporate world. A meeting for the new campaign. A meeting to go over the numbers from the last campaign. A meeting to figure out why the current campaign isn’t working.
It’s a massive, soul-sucking waste of time and energy. And a guaranteed way to kill productivity and motivation in your team.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do meetings and planning sessions. And if you insist on doing it the wrong way, your business will never build the momentum it needs to attract more exclusive solar leads or routinely increase sales.
Here’s the method I use when I need to schedule a non-routine meeting. It keeps things short, sweet, to the point, and ensures that whatever gets talked about gets taken care of with maximum efficiency.
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
Make sure you have everything you need beforehand. If you wing it without any sort of plan, everyone’s just going to waste time and get confused. The last thing you want is having to pause the meeting to find some data that could have been gathered earlier.
Who do you need to be in on the discussion? What type of input will be needed during the planning session? Do you need to know how many solar leads you generated last month? How the social media marketing for your solar business is performing? Bang out a quick attendance list so you don’t suddenly realize you need your head of sales present when he’s in the middle of a call.
What type of questions or prompts will help encourage the input you need? Don’t just assume people will give you the necessary data. Figure out how to get to the core of the matter without any fluff.
Consider the types of minds who will be attending. For example, if someone is more creative-minded, then balance them out with someone who is more pragmatic and detail-oriented. This way you broaden your perspective to cover all types of opportunities and risks.
What kind of contextual information will help to make sure that the wider strategic options are really considered? If you’re looking at the quality of your solar leads, don’t just consider their source but how they’re being used as well. Be sure that the info you’re bringing doesn’t create tunnel vision, or you’ll just end up having to schedule another meeting.
What questions can you ask to encourage people to think outside the box? Think of ways to get your team operating outside their normal mental framework. More often than not, that’s where the best ideas are to be found.
Also, don’t hold the meeting where you can be interrupted by the daily fires that need to be put out. If you’re constantly pausing the session to work on something else, take calls, or email your solar lead providers – nothing will ever get done.
2. Facilitate Productivity
The longer a meeting goes on, the less productive it becomes. So it’s in your best interest to have a toolkit of strategies on hand to make sure things get done ASAP.
For starters, make sure you have a clear agenda. Highlight exactly what you want to accomplish in this session.
Do you want to increase your sales team’s performance? Improve the quality of your exclusive solar leads? Understanding your agenda will prevent you from wasting time and energy focusing on things unrelated to the goal of the session
When building your agenda, be sure to include time for coffee, lunch, or some sort of break. Strategic thinking and planning is mentally exhausting. Skipping this makes it more likely you and whoever’s present will burn yourselves out, making the rest of the meeting less productive.
Also, allow time for discussion. You want ideas to percolate and start growing. There’s nothing worse than having an amazing light bulb moment and then not really getting into the heart of how or why it can increase your solar lead generation. Give the meeting time to follow the flow of the discussion. Evolve and build on the thinking that comes out of it.
Make sure everyone agrees on what you intend to do. The sooner everyone is on the same page, the sooner you can start making changes and investing resources where necessary. Ask out loud for agreement during the session. If there’s disagreement, allow time to hear the different points of views. Discuss them and find points of compromise, or identify where more info is needed.
Encourage participation for the session. Give everyone a voice at the table, or you could miss out on a game changing idea that could’ve brought you more solar leads and sales. Everybody should be able to contribute without fear of judgment. If one or two loud personalities just railroad over ideas from quieter people, it’ll affect the outcome of the session. You might as well not have those quieter people present.
3.Stick to the Core Issues
It can be easy to go off on a tangent during a planning session. So before you start, keep in mind the four main areas you want to focus on:
Where is the business going?
Look at both the long-term (company vision) as well as the short term (the goal of your current planning session). If the short-term doesn’t line up with long-term, re-evaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The point is to establish a level of harmony on all levels of your solar company to better attract sales and solar leads.
Why does your business exist? Who is the customer you serve?
Remember, you’re not just putting glass on rooftops. You’re significantly impacting people’s lives for the better. Every single person on your team needs to internalize this. It’ll come across both in their communication to the customer as well as how they think and plan with your business
What do you need to focus on to achieve your Vision?
Analyze the different areas of your solar business relevant to your goal for the planning session. Which is thriving? Which needs to be improved?
How do you plan to execute on your Strategic Priorities? What’s the most efficient way to execute in order to realize your vision?
Your plan of attack needs to be thorough and detailed. If you want to generate more exclusive solar leads, then be sure you can break your new strategy down into multiple, easily-followed steps.
But if you come out of your session with a rough outline, you’re just gonna have to schedule another meeting on the same topic later on.
On a more general note, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. It’s important to stay on track, but you’ll also need to dig into the details. What do you need to stop doing? More importantly, how can you commit to stop doing it? Are you really getting enough use out of your solar leads? Could you possibly follow up with them more?
Consider the assumptions you’re making that prevent you from seeing a different approach to better achieve your mission. Think about the goals you haven’t hit yet. If you’re missing your sales goals or your budget for solar leads is too inflated, why is that? What are you doing that might be getting in the way of that?
Remember that the buck stops with you. Never point fingers or assign blame if you can avoid it. Set the precedent of “everything is my fault” and your team will emulate it.
Lastly, whatever plan you end up coming with at the end of the session – don’t write it in stone. Good strategic plans are fluid, not rigid and unbending. They allow you to adapt to changes in the marketplace. Don’t be afraid to change your plan as needed.
Ultimately, knowing how to shorten your meetings and get the most productivity out of them will strengthen your company as a whole. Your team will be able to leave it with a clear idea of what to do and how to do it. And you’ll see that efficiency reflected in the increase of sales and solar leads your company pulls in. Zain Jan