It’s Monday morning at 8 a.m., time for your weekly sales meeting. Chances are, if you’re a salesperson, you’re dreading yet one more session where one or more of the following occurs:
- There’s really no concrete agenda, so the conversation just wanders with no real set goal in mind. In other words, it’s readily apparent that a meeting is being held just to hold a meeting.
- Underperformers, especially when business is tough, get called out and are ridiculed in front of their peers for their poor numbers. If it’s you this week, that’s no fun; and if it’s someone else, who’s to say you’re not next?
- What is supposed to be a precious hour of time to focus on stuff that affects ALL of you quickly devolves into a one-on-one training session for just ONE or TWO of you…not productive! Or maybe…
- Your sales manager allows any number of other company players to use this forum to cover all of THEIR agenda items with you and your colleagues, as opposed to sticking with what will make each and every one of you a more effective salesperson.
The list of what makes for a really bad sales meeting could go on and on, but perhaps it would be more productive if we use this precious space and time to talk about what makes a great sales meeting most…
- There’s an actual identifiable and justifiable reason to hold a meeting. Contrary to what may be the popular wisdom, there’s no need to tie up the already jam-packed schedules of very busy salespeople with meetings, especially if you don’t need to have one! Make sure the goal of the meeting you are having is very clear to you and your sales team. Maybe it is to discuss some innovative business ideas for your company.
- The person calling the meeting is prepared and has a set agenda. If the person managing the meeting is not adequately prepared to run it efficiently with set goals, topics and skill- or knowledge-building items/tasks as a guide, then there should be no meeting. And by the way, every agenda item must be of relevance to EVERYONE at the meeting, not just a select few.
- The sales meeting is a forum for the sales team to get what they need, not for them to give others what they want. Everything in a company boils down to profitability. The sales team is where the rubber hits the road from that standpoint, so chances are that other people in the company will want an audience with the team at some point. Make sure that sales meetings don’t become the dumping ground for any and every other problem or challenge the company is facing.
- The meeting is NOT a morale killer. A sales meeting is not the time or the place to skewer the weakest link. If certain members of the sales team need individualized coaching, do it one-on-one. Spend any time in the meeting that is focused on numbers praising those who are getting it right and encouraging them to share insights as to how they’re getting the job done.
- Pick the right time, and stick to your time limit. Salespeople only make money when they sell something. Their time is precious. Pick a time to hold a sales meeting that doesn’t conflict with the sales staff’s peak selling hours. If a sales meeting is set to last for one hour, then call it quits after one hour. Any agenda items you didn’t get to can wait until the next meeting; it’s more important that the sales force keep its appointments for that day, no question.
- Encourage collaboration. Sales managers tend to want to do all the talking and coaching in a sales meeting. Good ones know that the key to success is collaboration and the sharing of best practices. Keep meetings as democratic as possible, encouraging participation wherever and whenever you can.
- Set concrete objectives to benchmark effectiveness and productivity. Great sales meetings should ultimately produce results in the form of more contacts, more deals, better customer relationships and greater profits. Work together to set real, measureable goals on each of these fronts. Then track your progress as a group over time and provide positive reinforcement that inspires your team to reach those goals.
- Bad news first. If there’s any kind of bad news regarding company performance or personnel changes, put it out there first. Then, make every effort to counterbalance what is said with something positive and productive. Never end a meeting on a bad note; it’s a real morale killer and sets a terrible, negative tone that will influence your staff for the remainder of the week, if not longer.
- Update and educate. Company products, competitor info, price changes, market conditions, sales technology enhancements, marketing campaigns…all of these agenda items are relevant, but are a lot to swallow all at once. You must keep the information coming, that’s true, but it needs to be done a little bit at a time in each meeting if at all possible.
- Motivate, motivate, motivate! The sales meeting is the perfect time to show appreciation for your sales team. Even if you just provide coffee, juice and warm bagels on a wintry Monday morning, it goes a long way toward boosting morale. Sales managers need to think long and hard about how they can inspire their sales team before they leave the room so that they get the results they want and need. Negative reinforcement is never the answer; only positive reinforcement gets the job done right!