By Jeff Beals
Does this describe the sales meetings at your company?
It’s 10:06 a.m. on Tuesday and people are still strolling in for the start of your standing 10:00 sales meeting. Those who are already seated, including the vice president of sales, are chatting about what they did last weekend and in no apparent rush to get things underway. When the meeting finally does begin at 10:08, half the people are on their phones reading emails or playing games. Several other attendees didn’t bother to show, claiming they had “important client meetings.”
The meeting bounces from one topic to another with a lot of interruptions and spontaneous, tangential conversations. When the meeting finally ends – seventeen minutes past the scheduled time – attendees bolt out as fast as they can, grumbling to each other about how much time they just wasted. One sales rep says to another, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”
Sadly, the above passage describes way too many sales meetings at way too many companies. And that’s why attendance at sales meetings is often not so stellar, and those sales reps who do show up are often sitting back in their chairs, rolling their eyes and not engaging in the meeting.
Sales reps generally dislike their sales meetings, but that’s because meeting leaders typically don’t put enough effort into those meetings. If you’re the sales leader, it’s up to you to make your meetings useful and desirable. That’s especially true if your sales reps are independent contractors and legally can’t be “forced” to attend.
Do you want people to attend your sales meetings? Do you want sales reps to be more engaged and contribute more during the meetings? If so, I have some help for you:
See It Through their Eyes – Always try to see your meetings through the attendees’ eyes. When you view the agenda from the sales reps’ eyes, you can assess the meeting’s strengths and weaknesses. In order to increase the attendance at and participation in your sales meetings, make the meetings valuable to the attendees. As a sales leader, you don’t define what the attendees value; they do.
No B.S. Zone – Be as honest and transparent as possible regarding company policies, changes in the commission structure, and new product launches. Try to establish a “No B.S. Zone.” Sales reps hate hearing a bunch of politically correct corporate double-speak from their sales manager. Sure, there are some things you are not at liberty to discuss with sales reps, but with everything else, be an open book. The sales reps will trust you more and become more engaged in all facets of the company. Too many organizations are unnecessarily tight-lipped about non-essential things.
Skillful Facilitation – The person who leads the sales meeting must have good facilitation skills, which means he or she is fully present and in charge of the meeting. A competent meeting facilitator is inclusive-but-assertive, meaning he or she makes sure all people are involved in the discussion but has the discipline necessary to keep the meeting on schedule. The facilitator should always be on the lookout for an excuse to publicly praise individual sales reps in front of the whole group. A good sales leader sees the facilitation of sales meetings to be an art, carefully balancing the agenda/business side of the meeting with humor and light heartedness.
Free Stuff – Everyone likes to receive something for nothing. Periodically give away some company swag, such as t-shirts or coffee cups with the company logo. Free food also helps. Some companies provide coffee and doughnuts at their sales meetings. Other companies will periodically reserve a room at a nearby restaurant and provide breakfast or lunch for the whole sales team.
Rotating Facilitators – Once in a while, it might make sense to have one of the sales reps lead the weekly meeting. Periodically offer one of the normal attendees to be guest facilitator. Let him or her design their own agenda. Having one of the reps act as guest facilitator would be fun and a nice change of pace for everyone.
Outside Speakers – Meeting attendees tend to listen more intently when someone outside the company is presenting. Just like the rotating facilitator advice above, it’s a change of pace. What’s more, high-quality speakers provide valuable information that will help sales reps be more effective and close deals faster.
Book Club – Find a well-written book about sales techniques or industry content and provide a copy to each rep. Assign one chapter a week and then take a few minutes to discuss that chapter during the meeting. Discuss how the book content relates to your company’s work.
Team Building – It might make sense a couple times a year to cancel the weekly sales meeting. In its stead, schedule a bonding activity such as an outing to a go-cart-racing track, golf course or game arcade. You could also consider hiring a retreat leader and going through a structured team building exercise. If you choose to do a facilitated team building exercise, it is better to do it off site rather than inside your office.
Welcome the Newbies – Always take time to introduce newcomers to the sales team. Give rookies a chance to introduce themselves and give an overview of their career backgrounds. Then go around the room and have all the existing sales reps share their name, work function and length of tenure at the company.
Recruitment Tool – If you have a well-organized sales meeting with engaged attendees, you have a nice recruitment tool. If someone is thinking about joining your team, let them observe a sales meeting (assuming you are not going over confidential internal information that week). Most existing sales reps will be even more alert and active in the meeting if they have a prospective colleague present.
Leave Them Wanting More – In the end, the meeting should be a positive, enjoyable experience filled with valuable information that helps attendees be more successful. But don’t go too long. A great meeting is even better when it ends on time.
Next time, it will be Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings,” in which I will discuss what should actually be on your meeting agenda. Stay tuned!
Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”
Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:
“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY
“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here. He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard. Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA
“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team