For many salespeople, daily or weekly sales meetings rank just a sliver above cold calling on the dreaded to-do list. Sales meetings that are poorly run or too long can become more a demotivator than a source of encouragement and team building.
It’s critical that managers are mindful of why they hold meetings at all: “The purpose of a sales meeting is to create consistency in an organisation’s message, cross-pollinate information and build confidence,” explains Jerry Ervin, principal of Paragon Strategies, a consulting firm in San Francisco that helps maximise organisational and individual performance. Ervin adds that another function for sales meetings is to inspire a team to produce.
To turn sales meetings from a waste of time to a forum for deal-making ideas, try the following steps:
1. Plan for regular morning meetings. Whether you hold meetings daily or weekly, strive to get an early start so your reps keep their prime selling hours open. Patrick Lencioni, author of Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, advocates daily morning meetings: “There’s something about daily interaction that keeps people motivated and prevents gradual misalignment.” Lencioni believes that if reps know they’ll be checking in on a daily basis, it gives them a sense of “urgency and discipline”. For daily meetings, 15 to 30 minutes should be adequate.
2. Set a clear agenda, and keep things moving. Using a template for each meeting will help reps know what to expect and keep things moving. Talk with reps in advance to solicit their input on the topics to cover in each session. For example, if the agenda item is to increase networking leads, the preparation would include reviewing leads and preparing a list of action steps to garner additional leads. The objective would be to develop a lead pipeline and increase sales.
3. For each agenda item, assign a time limit and stick to it. For example, be clear that the meeting will be from 8:30 am to 9 am, and at 8:50 am give a 10-minute, wrap-up warning. Give participants two to three minutes to speak, which will also help keep the meeting within the time allotted. There are usually only a few vocal sales people, and keeping them on a schedule will reduce verbose diatribes.
4. Laud success in every meeting. In the rush to talk targets, don’t forget to schedule time to publicly praise reps for work well done. Focus on successes – this will help build confidence.
5. Don’t get too comfortable. If your meetings always tend to run over the time allotted, one simple tactic to keep on schedule is to conduct meetings while everyone is standing up. Explains Lencioni: “A standing meeting keeps people from getting too comfortable and settling in for a lengthy conversation.”