Making Sales Meetings Work

Making Sales Meetings Work

The sales meeting has been the crucial link between the company’s sales team and their field sales team for decades. The traditional purpose of the sales meeting was to inform sales staff about product knowledge, selling skills and goals, as well as administrative and service requirements. You should use it to reward, encourage and inspire.

Let’s face facts. Front-line salespeople take enough abuse from customers and competitors. The salesperson should enjoy the positive atmosphere and be able to look forward. These meetings should inspire enthusiasm and anticipation. This is unfortunately not always the case.

We spoke to hundreds of salespeople, and they all told us why meetings fail.

* “The meetings can be boring.”

* “The meeting doesn’t have an agenda. It’s going nowhere and getting there much too slowly.”

* “My manager cannot run a meeting.”

* “The meetings cover old ground and rarely settle the issues.”

* “The meetings offer an opportunity to meet up and get to gripe.”

* “The meetings don’t accomplish anything.”

* “Too many meetings concentrate on paperwork, forms, and administrivia.”

* “The meetings do not focus on real-world customer situations.”

* “Meetings are a waste of people’s time.”

* “The meetings offer an opportunity to criticize the efforts of sales staff.”

These are some tips to make sales meetings more productive:

* Create an agenda and follow it. Prepare handouts, product samples, and questionnaires for all the topics you’ll be discussing. Some managers will distribute the agenda several days prior to the meeting, I have heard. This is a commitment to what will be covered and who will talk about each topic. Sales staff have the chance to share their ideas and ask more questions.

* Recognize the winners. Recognizing the winners is a great way to start a meeting. Spend a few moments to congratulate, thank and acknowledge those who have contributed to meeting the goals and closing deals.

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Asking non-threatening questions will keep staff engaged and in learning mode. It is not fun to be made look terrible. Team members can present sales tips or product demonstrations at every meeting to get the sales team involved. It is essential to give the presenter ample time to prepare. This should be viewed as a reward for expertise. Discuss information and ideas that can help salespeople make more.

* Every meeting should include at least one positive war story. Individual team members should be involved. To be educational and informative, the story doesn’t have to be epic like David vs. Goliath. The manager should choose the level at least a few days in advance and then provide written guidelines to the presenter such as:

Please tell us how you first made contact.

Please tell us about the customer’s situation.

What was the competitor’s success story?

Let us know what you think is right and wrong.

Please tell us about the sales, other sales staff, service, administration, or coaches that were involved in the sale.

Your story should be between 2-5 minutes. Keep levels under five minutes, as it is possible to tell a boring war story. Toastmasters is a great place to send your salespeople if they aren’t able to tell a compelling sales story. Toastmasters should be a part of every salesperson for at least two years to learn how to give a professional presentation.

* Discuss your frustrations. Keep complaining and whining to a minimum of five minutes. Focus on finding solutions, not just bloodletting. Sales meetings will require you to confront real problems or build a reputation for not wanting to deal with them. However, arrangements should be used to solve the issues and not to flame frustrations.

* Notify the sales staff in advance if you exceed the time. This shows respect for their time and establishes a trusting relationship. This lets sales staff know they can make appointments the morning of meetings and is in control of their schedule.

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Instead of punishing people who arrive late, reward those who arrive on time. To reward people who arrive on time, you could give out numbered tickets as they come. Drawings would be held at the end for gas cards, lunches, dinners, and access to sporting events, among other things.

* Talk about prospects. Talk about prospects. Each participant should expect to speak about their top ten options for approximately 3 minutes. This creates pressure for some members of the team and allows others to brag. Peer pressure can be very effective in encouraging sales activity within the group. This event should give your sales reps an opportunity to ask for support or help, and you can expect that others will do the same.

* Discuss expectations. The sales meeting is a forum for discussing where the company and the team are heading. This meeting should be positive and upbeat, as it will examine the team’s goals.

Make it enjoyable. While being thoughtful, be creative. If you’re not good at having fun, give it to someone on your sales team. Your people are creative. Allow your “fun directors” to have five minutes at the end of each meeting. This will create anticipation and end the session with a positive tone.

* Do not allow visitors to take over your sales meeting. A product meeting is necessary if people are visiting from far away to discuss a new product. It’s great if a corporate CEO wants to meet with the team. Ask them to look at the agenda and see if they would be interested in one of the slots or prefer a particular time. He or she will appreciate that they only have to speak for a few minutes, except for something unique. Corporate bigshots like to give out special recognition. You can let them know in advance who is doing great work so they can also salute your winners.

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Here are ten ways to ensure a disastrous sales meeting

* Make a public example of one sales rep.

* Don’t let anyone else humiliate your sales reps.

* Concentrate on administrative forms & policy etc.

* Don’t try to organize a meeting without a plan.

* Do not plan for fun.

* Don’t allow the sales team to talk or become involved in the meeting.

* Allow someone outside your team to speak down to your salespeople.

* One sales rep may dominate one part of the meeting.

* Don’t let the meeting drag on for longer than you expected.

* Let the meeting sink into a “pity-party,” focusing on grumbling and whining.

Your sales meetings should be something that your employees look forward to. It’s time for them to get on board with making sales meetings a success.

Phillips Sales and Staff Development was founded by Rick Phillips in 1984. He is a three-decade veteran of sales and management. Phillips’ core belief was that most of the American business training was inadequate or poorly placed. People are still taught to memorize words, techniques instead of learning the principles. Principles are constants and don’t change. Rick was a featured speaker at an international convention for the American Society for Training and Development. Rick is a past recipient of the ASTD Training Program Design Award. Rick was honored with the Distinguished Toastmasters International award. He also presented at their international convention. He was a member and president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Speakers Association. He has also been named Chapter Member-of-the Year.