Sales meetings are often seen as a necessary evil by both salespeople and sales managers—the salespeople often think they are a waste of time (and sometimes they are) and managers generally hate putting them together (and a are often not that good at it). So, here are five tips to help you produce a sales meeting people will want to be part of, with less work on your part to provide all the content:
- Do something that cannot be done over email, on the phone, or within a company portal. This alone eliminates over half the content of most sales meetings—no more going over figures, reports, and reading back things people already know. Getting people together is expensive from a time perspective, so make the investment worthwhile by doing things that cannot be done unless the group is together, like brainstorming, problem solving, training that involves the entire team, sharing ideas, etc. These are worthy activities that truly leverage the power of the group. Otherwise, send an email.
- Begin with the end in mind. Think about what you want people to learn and what you hope they will be better at once the meeting is over. Try completing this statement, “When salespeople leave this meeting they should be better at “X” and I will know they will do “Y” more consistently.” If you choose a topic crucial to their success, you are off to a good start.
- Build a meeting where participants will be involved. People learn more when they aren’t just sitting there listening to someone talk—especially salespeople. If you are presenting something, ask them to then do something and get their reactions and feedback. You might put people in small groups to come up with some ideas. You might incorporate a game that reinforces the topic, or you might ask for stories that illustrate the concepts and help others learn from the storytelling. If you are brainstorming, follow a structured process that helps people be free and wacky early on and then asks them to make critical choices from the ideas farther into the process.
- Include an advance assignment that enhances the concepts you are teaching. For example, if you are looking for salespeople to be better at tailoring solutions ask them to bring along the output from a recent needs analysis conversation. Let the group help them tailor a solution to the client’s specific needs based on your capabilities. Everyone wins and everyone learns.
- Start the meeting by letting everyone know what they should expect to learn during the meeting. Use the interactive process you designed. At the end of the session, be sure to recap what they should have learned and create an assignment for each person to apply the learning to at least one of their accounts. Always have a means for follow up as well, whether it is in a future meeting or a one-on-one meeting between manager and salesperson.
If you follow these five steps, meetings will be engaging, a great forum for learning, and something that will produce ROI for both salespeople and you as a manager. No more boring meetings!