Instead of being a motivational boost to your team, most sales team meetings are boring and too information-driven. Based on his work with sales teams around the world, Andy Preston gives his tips and techniques for successful meetings.
Whenever I’m talking to or working with sales managers, they invariably ask me for some help in running the team sales meetings. They realise that running a compelling sales meeting is vitally important, but aren’t always sure of the best way to go about it. Generally speaking, there are two types of sales meeting, the quick ‘gee up’, lasting no more than 30 minutes, or the monthly, all-day affair more common to field sales teams. The all-day monthly meeting is much more difficult to organise and deal with, and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this article, although most of the tips would apply to weekly or daily sales meetings as well.
Tip 1 – The meeting doesn’t have to last the whole day This is a really important point. As a salesperson, I’ve lost count of the number of sales meetings I’ve sat through, thoroughly bored, as the person leading the meeting is obviously ‘spinning out’ the content and topics to fill time. This is pointless. Why not plan other activities for the afternoon – something that will help inspire and motivate the team?
Tip 2 – Plan and prepare for the meeting Most sales meetings are only thought about when they’re about to happen. Think well in advance what you want to cover in the meeting. Of course, it’s only sensible to leave room for last minute things you want to add, but planning the majority of the meeting well in advance can result in far more productive meetings. Sending out an agenda in advance of the meeting would also mean the team has some idea of what is going to be covered and they can prepare if necessary. However, it can also be a good thing to keep some things as a surprise to help keep the team on their toes. Give some thought to your objectives for the meeting and what you want to happen afterwards. Make sure at each stage that the meeting is progressing towards the outcomes you have set and not falling into meaningless discussions or chit-chat.
Tip 3 – Think carefully before discussing product literature Another ‘habit’ of sales managers is to give out product literature at meetings, go through it in detail and then ask for their salespeople’s thoughts on it. This is a big mistake. Make sure you send out any literature beforehand, so the salespeople have had chance to review it before the meeting, then you’ll get more relevant feedback and questions because they’ve had chance to study it.
Tip 4 - Challenge their pipeline This should be one of the most important parts of any sales meeting, yet most sales managers handle it badly. As well as looking at how the salesperson has performed over the last month (and how they’re performing currently), the sales manager should also be looking at any potential customers they have in the pipeline. I still remember working with a media company where the first time I met with the team was when I was running their sales meeting. I asked a particular salesperson to talk about their pipeline and likely customers for the next month. He mentioned two with no problems, but when he mentioned the name of the third, laughter filled the room as if a joke had been told. When I challenged the salesperson, it turned out the reason everyone was laughing is that that potential customer had been on his list since he started with the company nearly a year ago. What I find more incredible is that the sales manager had never challenged him on it.
Tip 5 - Share best (and worst) practice Wouldn’t it make sense that if one member of your team is having great success doing something, that the rest of your team should be doing it as well? Or if something really didn’t help them, then the rest of the team should also be avoiding it? This is something that sales teams often fail to do. Whether it’s because salespeople don’t want to help their in-house ‘competition’ or whether it’s through plain apathy, it should happen far more often than it does. If you’ve got something that’s working better than everything else, every member of the team should be using it! Whether it’s something a salesperson has found out about the market, a rival product or company or just a new idea, get it shared amongst the team and let everyone take advantage of it. The more you can instil a sense of trust and sharing of best practice within your team, the better it is for all concerned.
Tip 6 - Make it motivational This is probably one of the most important (but most forgotten about) areas. Every time your sales team gets together, it’s either an opportunity to motivate them, or an opportunity to de-motivate them. Most sales managers miss the opportunity to motivate or re-motivate their team, and if this happens regularly then the result is the team actually get de-motivated because of it. The danger is that they will start to view the sales meeting as an inconvenience and something to ‘get through’, rather than something that is useful and can help them achieve their targets. The key here is to ensure that before the team leave, you’ve motivated them as much as possible to go out and smash their sales targets for the month. This becomes especially important if you only get the team together once a month, so make sure you take advantage of the opportunity.
Got a question about this article, or want some specific ideas on running your team’s sales meetings? Drop me a line with any questions at www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy/. Andy Preston is a leading authority on sales and sales management. You can see and hear more about Andy at www.andy-preston.com.