Guest post by Andrew O'Neill, Outreach Business Operations Guru
Meetings are the lifeblood of a successful sales operation. The more you have, the more deals you can close. But—if we can be frank for a moment—the organizational and logistical work required for meetings is a total pain in the butt. Scheduling (and then inevitably, rescheduling them) is a tedious timesuck.
Worst of all: Many of these scheduled meetings never even happen. According to our research, an average of 20 to 35 percent of meetings with sales reps result in a no show. That’s right: After all that effort to find time on both participants’ calendars, along with the research and pre-planning beforehand, around one out of five meetings set up won’t take place.
And scheduling is just one of the challenges around meetings. There are other pain points involved as well, such as tracking and following up with no-shows and last-minute cancellations, along with tedious, time-consuming record-keeping and synchronization of all the data generated through meetings between multiple systems.
With Outreach Meetings, our aim is to simplify and automate the processes around meetings, so that this essential part of a salesperson’s workflow feels seamless—and not like a hassle. Here’s how:
Outreach is integrated with Office 365, Exchange, and Gmail, so scheduling meetings for yourself or on behalf of someone else is quick and easy. That means a sales rep can easily book a meeting for an account executive, making the transition from one part of the sales process to the next seamless.
Bookable time blocks and public-facing shareable calendar links make it easy to create one-click meetings. Outreach also makes it simple to track no-shows, and then reschedule the meeting to get on track.
What do you call a demo meeting? Is it “Bob’s ACME Demo with Jane”? Or “ACME Demo: Bob & Jane”? There’s near-endless ways to title that meeting, depending on how creative your reps get. But this is one time where creativity isn’t really an asset, since it makes reporting and gaining insight about demo meeting wins (and opportunities to improve) a bit more challenging.
That’s why we’ve created standard meeting types, with a uniform meeting title and messaging. Sales and marketing development reps are limited to just one meeting type to simplify the process; account executives and solution consultants can choose from several varieties, since they’re involved in many stages of the sales cycle. While you can tweak which meeting types are available to a given role, the names and types of meetings are consistent, which allows for improved automation and reporting.
For reps, often information on meetings often needs to be added in several places. Typically, creating an opportunity once a meeting is scheduled is a manual data-entry process: after the sales rep has booked the meeting, their next step is to toggle over to Salesforce to enter the meeting’s information, from date to time to status, and any updates as well. Understandably, errors can occur—make a typo or forget a step, and valuable information isn’t properly collected or tracked.
We’ve solved that pain point with automation. Once the meeting invite goes out from Outreach Meetings, an event is created within Salesforce. If that event contains certain information, we use business process automation to auto generate an opportunity against the contact record the meeting invite was sent to. Essentially, this workflow eliminates the need for reps to enter that information in two different locations—once the meeting is scheduled in Outreach, the event details are automatically added to Salesforce, and information queried from the Contact and Account ensure that the right type of opportunity is created with the right information. That means your sales rep efficiency increases—and the risk of errors is significantly decreased.
We’ve built this automation for our team, and if you want to model your process after ours, here’s a peek at our workflow:
Additionally, reminders help sales reps know to update the meeting status in Salesforce. Meetings that are no-shows or cancellations are moved to the appropriate Outreach follow-up sequence—that helps the sales reps get those meetings back on the books, rather than being lost or overlooked opportunities. This happens the moment we mark the prospect as a no-show in Outreach.
Standardizing the meeting types and getting information synced between calendars and Salesforce means that sales operations and leadership have better visibility. If, for instance, you discover that a higher than expected percentage of your meetings are no-shows, you can use that information to reevaluate and improve your sales process.
By applying automation and a standardized process, the logistical effort required for meetings can be transformed from a pain point into a process that runs smoothly—and also provides an opportunity to gain insights into places where the sales process can be improved -- such as figuring out what’s going on with those meeting no-shows!