Parking Lot Meetings are Back in Parking Lots

In January 2021, I posted a Time to Win that talked about preparing for meetings in a virtual world.  Now that we are back to meeting in person, I think it’s important to discuss preparation for in person meetings and specifically what that preparation can look like for meetings that involve other teammates (or coworkers).

First, I want to highlight some of the advantages of bringing teammates (coworkers) on meetings with you:

  1. An extra set of ears to listen.
  2. Extra touch points for customers with your team.
  3. The ability to have experts from your team connect with your customers.  As an example, in the advertising world, if the creative team is not at the meeting, a game of telephone begins, time is wasted, and the finished product is not as good as it could be.

Now that we know the reason to have teammates on a call, we need to make sure they are prepared to be at their best.  The best way to do that is to involve them in the strategy, discuss their role, and have them be a part of the collaboration leading up to the meeting.  There are three specific times you should be communicating with these teammates:

  • Ideation- Get them involved in the idea stage. Explain the customer’s objectives, what you know about the customer and then keep an open mind to others’ ideas.  Make sure you are listening to understand why your teammate believes in their idea. Although the idea might seem crazy to you, having someone with a totally different skillset and professional background to offer ideas can be exactly what the customer wants.  Remember, the customer is probably hearing ideas from salespeople, like you, all the time.
  • Meeting Strategy Session- This involves discussing the goal of the meeting, what you are hoping the teammate will contribute by being at the meeting and getting feedback from them on how and where they think they can contribute.
  • The Parking Lot Meeting- During the Pandemic, Steve Politziner (Good Karma Brands President) invented the “parking lot meeting”.  His concept was when we were in person, we used to talk in the parking lot before and after meetings.  During the pandemic we would all just show up on each other’s computers without talking prior. We started to schedule 15 minutes before and after the call, and here is what would be covered:

Parking Lot Before– this is not a strategy meeting.  We discuss who is leading the meeting, if there is a presentation, who is talking about each part of the presentation and each teammate’s role.

Parking Lot After– Action steps.  Who is doing what and by when!  Too often we leave great meetings, and no one does anything until the day before the next meeting. Determine action steps and due dates when it’s all still fresh in our minds.

During the Pandemic, we all had to be more intentional about how and when we were communicating.  Most of these habits are great to continue and even better when we can do them in person.