Who loves sales meetings? Raise your hand.
Let’s face it. Sales meetings won’t really come up when you’re asked to think of pleasant things. However, they are essential in building the success of a sales organization. When done right, they could have an amazing impact on sales operations and the individual morale of sales people.
The tough truth is that many sales leaders and teams don’t really know how to hold great sales meetings. If anything, they’ve become a requirement that you just get over with.
Well, you’re going to learn today.
Here’s my list of 19++ things you can do to make your sales meetings great. Some of these may be playing with the risk of stating the obvious–but with how many sucky sales meetings are held each day, that risk is worth taking.
Define the meeting’s purpose.
A great meeting begins with a defined purpose. This purpose will influence and dictate how you’re going to prepare, hold and finish up a meeting. It also guides you with determining who should be in the meeting.
Whatever the purpose of the meeting, don’t let it be about reprimanding a smaller team or individual.
There’s just no space for this kind of negativity in a sales meeting. If you’re meaning to call out someone or a small team in a sales meeting, you’re better of sabotaging a week’s worth of work. It’s better to have a separate meeting with just the people concerned. That way, you can be thorough and properly address the issues at hand.
Sales meetings are not a venue for one-on-one coaching.
If you’re thinking of making a meeting out of coaching everybody in the team one-on-one, then you’re just not respecting everyone’s time and it’s not going to be effective anyway. Coaching is most effective when it’s done under circumstances that forge trust. Schedule it ahead, in a time that people are free. Besides, putting out dirty laundry during a team meeting–even if it’s a small team–is never good for the relationship of the team.
Decide on a sales meeting theme.
What’s a sales meeting theme, you ask? AMI CEO Andy McNeill says, “Coming up with a concept behind your meeting or event helps to drive your planning in the right direction, keeps your messaging on track and ultimately can ensure that you accomplish your goals.” Yes, it’s very important.
If it can be an email, it doesn’t need to be a meeting.
Meetings take up time. And in sales, any time you spend not selling is revenue lost. So, think hard before you prepare to call people up for a meeting. If it’s possible to just write up a report or a memo, do that. I know it is always better to communicate in person–but this is one of those situations where having something in writing is much better than huddling everyone in.
Prepare an outline.
Nothing sucks more than a meeting with no direction. People will get bored, they won’t absorb whatever’s being said. Do your team a favor and prepare an outline. It doesn’t have to be super detailed. It just has to guide you through a logical flow so you put your team in the best position to understand and absorb what’s being talked about.
Collect opinion and other input beforehand.
When you send out the announcement and consultation emails for the sales meeting, include a couple of questions. These questions should be related to the theme and contribute to the content to be discussed in the meeting. This way, you’ll be better assured that you didn’t miss anything. Your team has got you covered.
Choose a team member or resource person to discuss content.
When holding a meeting, it’s not a good idea to have someone monopolize the floor. What you can do is ask someone to talk about something they’re good at during the meeting. Holding a meeting on better prospecting? Does James have an amazing email open rate? Ask him to hold a short talk about what makes his emails effective.
Keep meetings fast.
The key is to make meetings substantial and swift. Of course, it’s not easy. But that’s why you need to prepare well and think ahead.
If the meeting lasts more than an hour, impose breaks.
Long meetings are draining but sometimes there’s just no way around them. The best you can do is take breaks of 5 to 10 minutes to restore sanity so to speak. This keeps people’s mind sharp and their attention on the meeting.
Consult for the best time well in advance.
Even when the attendance is mandatory, respect salespeople’s time and consult them before you set a time for the meeting. Salespeople have client calls, personal work structures and other things going on that you may not be aware of. Decide on a time that everyone’s happy with and hold the meeting during that time and date.
Publish the agenda in advance.
Don’t keep people guessing why you’re holding a meeting. Along with your invitation, include the agenda. This way, they can prepare questions, thoughts and can update themselves if there’s anything they’ve missed.
Assign homework as needed.
Is it an input-heavy meeting? Don’t put reps on the spot. Remember, selling is a high-pressure job and as a manager, you want to relieve your team of this pain. If you’re thinking of having certain people report during the meeting, let them know beforehand. If you need someone to collect names and other admin tasks during the meeting, assign that in advance as well.
Stick to what’s agreed on. Start and end on time.
After you’ve consulted people on the best time and date for your meeting, don’t change it. You’re going to piss people off and wreck havoc on their schedules if you do. So please, just stick to the plan.
If someone is suddenly unable to attend, use tech tools to keep them in the meeting.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Blab, GoToWebinar. There are so many choices when it comes to video conferencing that physical presence isn’t always a requirement to be counted in a meeting. When someone is suddenly unable to attend, make sure to exhaust tech tools to ensure better attendance.
Treat the meeting like a customer presentation.
Think of how much preparation and performance you put into your customer meetings. Think of how much preparation and performance you expect from your team. That’s how much you should put in for sales meetings.
Reinforce company vision.
Even when the topic of the meeting is a particular one, do not forget to always reinforce your company’s vision. Always make sure that your advice and lecture are aligned with company values and goals. This is the single rallying call of your sales force and you should always remind them of it.
Attendance and logistics go to waste if you don’t pin down the content for the sales meeting. A good way to begin smart is to focus on one or two related topics and write down any loose ideas that are suggested mid-meeting. Paul Castain recommends a “parking lot” or a sheet of paper where ideas are parked for future meetings.
Make time to celebrate client and rep success stories.
Sales meeting are held to make your team better, and what better venue than the meeting to celebrate the progress and milestones of the team. Identify one or two success stories to discuss during the meeting. If possible, deconstruct the success–what went right.
Invite an outside perspective.
Okay, so this person who will provide outside perspective doesn’t have to be a celebrity in the business and sales world. Think, Anna from Marketing. Or Julius from IT. You’ll be surprised as to how much insight you can get from someone who’s not from the field.
A meeting should never be a monologue. Aside from constantly asking for feedback and questions, call up people directly to share something. They can also ask a question for you or the rest of the team.
Make it multimedia.
Include visuals and sounds in your strategy to make the meeting as lively and interesting as possible. A meeting that doesn’t communicate points well in a way that people will understand thoroughly is a meeting that just wasted everyone’s time.
Avoid going back to old issues.
It can be tempting to use the meeting airtime to bring up old problems–whether they’re showing up again or not. Besides, there’s something comforting in focusing on other things instead of the here and now. Do your team a favor and ensure that this is absolutely avoided.
Stay away from Powerpoint.
OK. This one’s a topic of debate but I think that a lot of people associate Powerpoint presentations with boredom that using it can’t do you good. Besides, there are a lot of new and old ways to present that will bring the attention to you and not the screen. Try Prezi, a video or even a simple PDF.
Ensure there are actionable items involved in the meeting.
Pull your meeting out of the realm of ideas and into action. Make sure that after you’ve discussed strategies and ideas, there is a clear plan of action that follows. There are too many meetings that flesh out problems to the bone, only to be found wanting in the solution department.
Distribute post-meeting highlights and a summary.
It’s not going to hurt is it? When you ensure that information is served in different ways, you’ll upping the chance of higher absorption. If you used an outline for your meeting and was engaged well with the audience, you can even assign someone else to create the highlights for distribution.
Ask for follow-up questions and circulate the answers.
Lastly, ask through email or work chat tool if there are any additional questions or clarifications related to the meeting. Set a deadline for the submission of these questions so you know when to start writing up answers and circulating them back to all attendees.
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