Catchy title. I thought so. I read the entire column by Andy Kessler in the Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2018. I know the column’s target audience was the business community. However, as I read, I realized this had application across multiple disciplines.
In his days of young adult exuberance, Mr. Kessler was headed out the door of the office with papers and charts to make a pitch to a client. The boss stopped him at the door and asked, “What are doing with all that junk?” Taken back by the question, Kessler was suddenly caught without anything to say. “It’s the first meeting, right?” his boss asked. “Yeah.” Then his boss gave him some sage wisdom for business, “Don’t be an idiot. Leave all that stuff here. You can use it later. Listen, everything good takes five meetings.”
What an invaluable lesson to learn for a young business person or young teacher, or a young pastor or young deacon! Problem is, some people never learn that building relationships is what makes the business world, or even the sphere of the church, work at all.
Kessler testifies that he was mad at his boss because he had worked so hard preparing everything, and now the boss was explaining that everything takes five meetings or five touch points. The boss went on to explain that the idea of making a “close” every time you go out may have been the mantra before the invention of the cell phone, but it is passé today.
Yes, everyone is in a hurry. Everyone wants to buy or communicate their message in the context of a single click, one appointment, or one committee meeting. Kessler goes on to explain after the fifth meeting, the fifth conversation, you do need wrap up the message. But take a little time getting there.
What do Kessler’s five meetings look like?
(1) The Sniff—that is the initial meet-and-greet with a maximum time limit of 30 minutes.
(2) The Story—what is your story that you love to tell?
(3) The Data—explain what you wanted to tell them and how it benefits them.
(4) The Ask—pitch your idea, your message, your plan. It would be good to have someone else confirm it.
(5) The Close—This is the time ask them to buy into your idea or agree with your message.
Another name for this is the “Rule of Five.” And you can’t take shortcuts if you want to maximize your impact with the person to whom you are reaching out in business or some other form of relationship. Relationships matters and they take time.
If you study the ministry of our Lord Jesus, you discover quickly how He was always making disciples. He was perfect at the process. We aren’t clued in to all the details. But if you look closely, you find He is constantly training His followers to build Kingdom relationships with people. He was meeting people. Meeting to train them. Meeting to teach them.
How many times did He need to point out that keeping the rituals of religiosity for favor with God was as futile as a sales guy trying to win over a client in the initial meeting? But look at how He met people and used the meeting to point people toward a relationship of grace.
Sometimes, people ask, “What is it that you do?” I am tempted to get a little snarky and say I operate a “Meetings R Us” franchise. That would give people pause to think. I do attend a lot of meetings. Meetings are how the work is done on a large scale. Some are productive. Some dull. Some meaningful, and yet others are perfunctory. But I do want every meeting to be a meaningful contact, a significant conversation.
As I write this column, I spent the day in two meetings: the first meeting was preparation to be a certified Disaster Relief volunteer. I know you can’t prepare once a disaster strikes. So now is the time to get ready. If you are not a certified volunteer, why not? You can bring help, hope and healing into someone’s life by investing a little time in helping during a disaster.
The second meeting was the first official meeting with The Baptist Home. I am very grateful for the progress that was made with the staff of The Baptist Home. Within just a few weeks, the MBC’s duly-elected trustees will be providing oversight to this marvelous ministry of care for the residents. For years it seemed an impossible dream for this ministry to return home. Now they are coming home and it’s time to celebrate.
Make plans now for the MBC’s big meeting, October 28-29 in Branson. Celebrate the MBC’s cooperative ministries. Special guests this year are Johnny Hunt and JD Greear, and The Gettys in concert. Watch for details soon by clicking on the Annual Meeting tab at MoBaptist.org. ν