A simple, but highly effective model that might just transform your life…
How often do we sit in a meeting (obviously organised by somebody else…) and think “why am I here and just what am I getting from it?” When you walk away at the end of the interaction still none the wiser, do you look forward to the next meeting organised by that person or quietly delete it from Outlook?
Now – we know that none of YOUR meetings are like this, but just in case you have an occasional lapse, this article introduces a simple but hugely effective tool to make sure that every interaction you have is both a good use of your time – and also your client’s, boss or colleague’s time too…
In recent months, this concept (using the acronym PPP) has become a popular feature of our workshops – particularly when we are working with salespeople, consultants and project managers who are looking to drive sales or initiatives forward. In fact one group of lawyers we have worked with have issued an edict that NO meetings can take place without a written PPP included in the invite!). So, if you have been on our programmes – consider this a handy reminder – and if you are yet to experience PPP, then I’d urge you to give it a go…
The one paragraph summary – PPP
For those of you scanning this article – here is the summary – although it’s not as straightforward as it seems so I’d encourage you to read to the end….!
The essence of the tool is that prior to every meeting, you should consider (and preferably write down) your “PPP” for that meeting. PPP stands for: Purpose, Payoff, Process and part of it at least should be shared with participants at the beginning of the meeting.
Purpose: Why are we here?
Pay-Off: What are the benefits from this meeting for you and the various stakeholders? Why should people be engaged and paying attention?
Process: What is going to happen during the meeting/presentation and how are we going to achieve our purpose.
Common sense maybe, but not always common practice…let’s have a look at each P in turn.
1. Defining Your PURPOSE
Picture the scene…you are sat in a management meeting and somebody – from marketing perhaps, or a third party company, starts to pitch at you. Do you ever think – am I expected to make a decision at the end of this? Will they want feedback? Or is this just to generally inform me? In other words, the purpose of the meeting IF it is made clear at the start will largely determine how we then listen and deal with information – and obviously the outcome.
So – if it is YOUR meeting, make sure the purpose is clear. A great purpose statement answers the question, “Why are we here?” in one or two sentences. Something like, “The purpose of our meeting today is to review our work to date and to consider how our relationship may expand going forward.”
Note the key choice of verbs in italics above – are you wanting to Inform, to persuade, or to collaborate with your audience?. Having clarity about this purpose in your own mind helps define the overall approach you’ll need to take, from gathering information to organising your message.
Then – communicating this purpose before the meeting helps the audience prepare and might also encourage them to keep the meeting in their diary! Eg being part of a meeting “to agree an approach to…” is more compelling then thinking they are just being presented to…
Re-stating this purpose at the beginning of the meeting reinforces this – state your specific purpose as precisely as possible, even identifying which audience members should respond, how they should respond, and when.
Once you are satisfied that you have a clear and meaningful purpose, your next step is to understand the members of your audience and their needs.
2. Determining the PAY OFFS
The Pay-Off is essentially the benefit that all parties will get from the interaction – ie answering the question “What will my stakeholders and I gain from having met?”
Their Pay-Offs – encouraging them to come back for more…
It’s often useful to confirm this clearly at the beginning of the meeting, along with the Meeting Purpose – eg “This meeting is for us understand better you needs (Purpose) and as a result provide you with some new ideas for how you might make a real difference (Their Pay-Off)”
Business people are always busy and needing to justify how they spend their time – they need to know from the very start why this presentation or meeting is important to them and what value it will add for them personally.
Note that their pay-offs should be from the meeting itself – it’s not enough that it’s a step along the way to something else. Questions to ask yourself – will they learn something? Will they feel better informed? Will they feel more confident? Will they have some ideas they can use elsewhere – eg with their boss?
If you still unsure about this – imagine the other party is walking away after having met you and they bump into their boss. Their boss asks them – “How did that meeting with xxx go? Was it a good use of your time??” What do you want them to say……?
Your Pay-Offs – what actions are THEY committing to?
Obviously the meeting needs to be useful for you and your company too! In this case a good starting point is to ask yourself these questions…
What do you want the other party to DO as a direct result of meeting with you?
This is particularly important in any complex sales or influencing situation where it is vital that the other party (eg client) actually commits to something as a result of every meeting with you. If for no other reason than psychologically, they are more likely to commit to the larger project if they have some increasing ‘skin in the game’ after each interaction….What this action is of course varies a lot, with recent course participants (reflecting on upcoming meetings) suggesting the following:
Sending them additional information
- Introducing them to a colleague / their boss
- Agreeing to a reference visit
- Presenting their material at an internal meeting
- Using their document as part of a business case
Now the second (and third) question is this – in order for them to see this action through – and feel full commitment to it – not just compliance….
What do you want them to THINK or FEEL differently as a result of the meeting?
Participants often use words such as ‘confident’, ‘trust’ and ‘comfortable’ when asked how they need their clients to feel after the meeting.
Note that your pay-off need not be explicitly stated – but you need to be clear about it – and maybe nimble enough to change it as things evolve during the meeting
3. Developing the Process
This basically is the agenda which delivers the Purposes and Pay-Offs above and answers the question, “How will I best achieve my purpose and deliver the pay-off to all my stakeholders?”
Therefore it must always be determined by the first 2 P’s.
A common trap we see, particularly from observing sales calls, is a real disconnect here. For example – if you have already decided that you want the client to feel confident about you and trust you as a result of the meeting – then a meeting process which starts off with you talking about yourself and your company for 20 minutes is unlikely to deliver this! But how often does this happen?
Obviously best practice here is also to let everyone know where you are heading in your meeting and what is expected of them. Answering this question can quickly reduce relationship tension about the meeting.
In Summary – give it a go!
We know this works and within Greenbank we often challenge our colleagues before a meeting to state their Purpose and desired Pay-Off – even experienced directors can get blasé about this….
People love to be the recipient of a PPP because they don’t have to fear surprises. They know what is coming and why and most important they can see from the start why they need to attend a meeting and pay attention. It builds personal credibility and others will soon come to expect every meeting/presentation to begin this way and often adopt this tool themselves.
We hope you found this useful and as always, look forward to your feedback and comments…
If you found this article interesting and would like to know more about how Greenbank can help you secure more meetings and build pipeline, then please contact us and we will be glad to help!