Oh no—here comes the morning eye roll, the significant glance between co-workers, the hunched shoulders, the slow shuffle to the conference table. So much of what can go on at a sales meeting can instill a sense of dread or contempt—even before it has commenced! We know meetings are crucial to the overall health of a company. Why is there so much trepidation to attend them? More than likely it is because of situations like these:
The meetings are unorganized. With no agenda or structure established, it is hard for anyone to stay on point and remain focused.
Going off on tangents. This happens often. Someone journeys off on a tangent that is unrelated to the main topic of discussion and completely derails the meeting.
Rehashing of old items. When you spend too much time talking about the same things or recapping what everyone already knows and never getting to new information, it can make the meeting unproductive for everyone involved. People will check out mentally when there is no new information to absorb.
Sales are sales. Having department heads at a sales meeting is a waste of time. It is not a sales meeting then; it is now an all-team meeting. In this situation, the important topics such as strategies and education can often be brushed aside.
How can you avoid these occurrences and have a great weekly meeting? Here are some solutions to stay on track and make meetings productive, fun, and eagerly anticipated.
Planning your sales meeting
Keep in mind basics such as:
Start and end times. Your sales force is likely working on a tight schedule. They have calls to make, clients to see, and contracts to handle. Make sure the meeting has both a start and end time that works well in everyone’s schedule and that you stick to it as closely as possible.
Keep it timely. While you certainly do not need to have a three-hour sales meeting each week, it needs to be lengthy enough to be productive. An hour gives you time to cover all of the topics you need to get to, without belaboring. You do not want to spend time re-hashing everything that went on at this past weekend’s event; your operations meeting can take care of that. Instead make this hour about information, teaching, inspiration, and ways to achieve goals.
Choose the right day. Having your meeting on Monday morning is probably the worst time for you and your staff. Everyone likely needs Monday to catch up after the weekend and can’t devote time to a meeting right away. Friday can be just as bad as everyone is going to be swamped with weekend events. Choose a day mid-week at a time when your staff typically has a schedule lull. Once that day is chosen, stick with it so the team can plan their week around it.
Your sales meeting in four acts
You can break your meeting into four 15-minute blocks that will keep it moving and productive. Try a set up like this:
1. Tracking. Don’t start your sales meetings on a low note. Use the first 15 minutes as a way to praise everyone for the numbers they had during the past week. Congratulate individuals for hitting and exceeding particular sales goals. Make it a big deal because, well, it is a big deal! A round of applause from the group is a great motivation. You can even use this time to hand out gift cards as recognition for great work. For those that may have missed their goals, now is not the time for chastising or reprimand. They know they missed the mark already and with the right motivation will strive to do better.
2. Opportunities. There are always new sales opportunities, so devoting 15 minutes for everyone to share ideas and leads can be ideal. Have each person bring a potential sale they want to go after that week to the meeting. Maybe it is a gala they had bid on the previous year and did not get, but want to go after it again this year. Now is a good time to share that information and gain ideas from their peers.
3. Education. Your sales meeting can offer great teaching moments so don’t let them slip by. Take 15 minutes to go over different effective sales techniques, do some role playing so your sales force can envision how to work with different clients and situations, talk about how to build solid relationships and make proposals, or teach the best way to close a deal. This kind of information can be a big help to your team.
4. Big takeaway. Take the last 15 minutes to go around the table and have everyone comment on their favorite takeaway. The key to doing this is that each person must say something different and not repeat someone else’s answer. If they know this final segment is coming, it keeps your employees engaged throughout the meeting. It also helps them hear important points being reinforced by others.
Your role in all of this
Your role as the facilitator is crucial. Make sure the meeting starts and ends on time no matter what. If for some reason the meeting has to be cancelled because of an event, make sure you reschedule it for the same week. If you cannot be there, have another staff member facilitate. There also may be times when a particular topic needs to run longer for greater emphasis, so let the team know about it early on so they can adjust their schedules.
It is your job as the leader to make sure the sales meeting is a good one each week. You want your team to feel excited about going to the sales meeting each week and leave feeling inspired and ready to be productive. Don’t be afraid to assign homework for the next meeting so people can think about and be ready for the next time. Finally, once the meeting is over, arrange time to meet with each salesperson one-on-one for about 15 minutes each. This gives each person time with you to ask questions, get advice, talk about strategies for new business, tweak individual techniques, and go over their numbers.
Sales meeting do not have to be the groan-inducers or eye-rollers that everyone dreads going to. If you make the meetings purposeful, interesting, and inventive, everyone will be sure they can attend each week and the company will benefit overall.