Traditional Outsourced Sales Management is most often delivered in one of two models, a complete…
Sales team meetings can be dynamic, productive, engaging, and fun if you organize and lead them to this end. More often than not, they aren’t. A good indicator is what your team looks like during your meetings. What are your sales team’s body posture and faces expressing to you during your sales team meetings? How willing are they to engage in discussions you initiate? Maybe your meetings are lively and intense, with the complaints of the day leading the way. Once one person complains about something, it’s like a dog pile of complaints with no genuine desire to get anything changed.
I hope your team is engaged, but let’s face it, weekly sales team meetings can become routine and easily fall into a rut. When that happens at a small business, the meetings usually stop. If you ask the team if they want to keep having the meetings, they’ll be polite and tell the boss, “If you want to.” But what they want to say is, “These meetings are boring.” There’s no one else to blame for the condition of our meetings than us, the sales leader. What can we do about it? This blog is about answering that question.
If you, the leader, are responsible for the result of your meetings, then you can make a change. Sales team meetings can be enjoyed and appreciated by a sales team.
I’ve led over 3000 sales team meetings since founding Sales Manager Now, and without productive and engaging discussions, our Fractional Sales Management approach would not work.
To improve your sales team meetings, you should be honest about what you’ve been doing that’s working against you before instituting new ideas or giving up on them. With this in mind, this article will cover three areas:
- Sales Team Meeting Killers
- Benefits of Having Regularly Scheduled Sales Team Meetings
- How To Organize and Structure Your Sales Team Meetings
- How to Lead Engaging Sales Team Meetings
Sales Team Meeting Killers
If you’ve never had sales meetings, you’ll want to avoid the following sales team killers. If your meetings look similar to the descriptions in the opening paragraph, take note of any killers that might be present in your meetings and learn more about remedies in the following sections.
After working with over 50 companies in 30 different industries, we observed and documented what salespeople disliked with some sales team meetings.
- Sales team meetings lacked an agreed-upon purpose which led to inconsistent flow.
- The boss or manager would cancel sales team meetings last minute when they were busy.
- There was no meeting agenda, or it tended to be what was important to the owner or manager.
- Sales team meetings became complaining sessions.
- Sales team meetings lacked constructive dialogue.
- Issues were not discussed productively and solved.
- The sales team lacked accountability.
In addition to salespeople’s dislike for a poorly run sales team meeting, meetings generally have a bad rep (which comes from poorly run meetings). When someone suggests scheduling a meeting(s) to solve issues, I often hear the following comments:
- Meetings seem redundant since we communicate all day long.
- We can’t get everything done as it is, and meetings will put us further behind.
- Past meetings have been a waste of time, so why go there again?
- I want the salespeople in the field or talking to customers, not in a meeting.
- We only have one salesperson; should we have a meeting?
I encourage you not to allow these excuses to keep you from having meetings. Using the following practices will help you run sales team meetings and other meetings that participants appreciate.
Benefits of Having Effective Regularly Scheduled Sales Team Meetings
When you commit to having more productive weekly sales team meetings, you should expect the following to develop. If you are still waiting to see this, ask for feedback. Have them rate the meeting on a scale of 1-20.
- Greater accountability and improved results by salespeople
- Salespeople helping salespeople to win more business
- Healthier respect between sales and support departments
- Improved product knowledge
- More motivation and a better attitude
- Greater confidence by management in what is happening in the sales field
- Productive feedback to improve processes, products, or services
- Greater adherence to proven processes and systems for selling
- Fewer unwanted surprises
- Essential issues being resolved to enhance sales
- More sales!
How To Organize and Structure Your Sales Team Meetings
Leaders who are organized and have a workable structure for all make it easier for followers to follow, and that’s what we hope for as leaders. We want others to follow our direction or lead. The same applies to meetings. Here is some structure to have in place.
Meetings should be scheduled on the same day and time each week
When you commit to regularly scheduled weekly sales team meetings, your consistency in having the meeting and leading in an organized and structured way will be the best expression of the meeting’s importance.
As your team benefits from each meeting, they will see the meeting time as important. Rarely cancel or reschedule a sales meeting. If you can’t make it as the leader, ask another manager or a leader on your sales team to conduct the meeting.
When you implement the following structure, asking others to step in for you will be easier. Send out a recurring meeting invite, so everyone has it on their calendar.
Define Your Sales Team Meeting Purpose
At Sales Manager Now, the purpose of our sales team meetings is “To Help Sales People Sell More.” All that happens during our hour-long meeting should support the salespeople attending the meeting to sell more.
Having a purpose can shift most meetings from people attending for management to hear what they want or need to management supporting what sales needs. In turn, sales will be more willing to provide leadership with what they need as it comes back in support.
Create and Share An Agenda
Agendas are necessary and can be as simple as a list of items written on a legal pad. The same agenda week after week can become mundane, and people will begin to check out. Rotate new areas of focus from week to week. Sales activity and results are usually included most weeks, but they don’t have to be.
Here is a list of categories you can work into different meeting agendas that support the meeting purpose.
- Discussion around what’s working for people
- Product education (invite vendors in to help educate the team)
- Interdepartmental communication (invite support departments in to discuss how to improve)
- Selling skills education and practice
- Planning and strategic conversations
- Challenges faced in the field
- Sales pipelines, activity, or sales review
- General company information
- Issues discussion to solve internal or system challenges
- Sales team items. Allow the sales team to contribute to agenda items.
Start And End On Time
It’s okay to end meetings early, but always finish them on time or early. If you are going to run overtime, call the meeting officially ended and allow anyone to leave if they have another appointment scheduled. Then invite those who can stick around to continue.
Agree On Meeting Norms
Meeting norms are the meeting participation guidelines. I have different team norms, so I don’t want to tell you what your team’s norms should be. The norms should support the purpose; if the team sees it’s helping them sell more, they will support them. To keep it simple, ask the team what will help to have a productive meeting and stay on purpose. You’ll find people know.
Prepare For Your Sales Team Meetings (24+ hrs before)
It can take five to thirty minutes to prepare for your meetings. Preparation is where the money is made. The better prepared you are, the more flexible with the open discussion you can be. When you are not prepared, you can create rabbit trails or allow others to go there. Preparations might look like this.
- Reviewing sales activity and numbers before the meeting to have questions and observations ready.
- Prepare any selling education you want in the meeting by searching the web or reviewing a book or article. Decide on your discussion questions and print up the materials you may need.
- Confirm with any visitors and remind the team who is attending the meeting.
- Decide on your warm-up questions.
How to Lead Engaging Sales Team Meetings
Even with a good structure in place, your meetings can still flop. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen a CEO schedule consistently, always have an agenda, preach the mission statement and then lose her team with her leadership and communication approach. She over-leveraged her authority and was impatient with others’ slower thought or communication processes. This led to lower engagement and measured feedback.
The following suggestions will result in your sales team being engaged in the meetings, providing honest feedback, and being accountable for their actions.
Put Focus On Strengths and Solutions
It’s easy to see problems or discuss issues. But too much focus on problems can lead to excessive complaining and missed opportunities to learn from each other.
Discussing what is going right and then building on those strengths and experiences takes more work but builds on working practices. Salespeople like sharing what is going right, so getting them started is easy, giving everyone time to share what interests them.
Here are some meeting starters
- What went right last week?
- What was challenging the previous week, and how did you overcome it?
- Any sales success stories?
- Any referral introductions anyone would like to share?
Dedicate Time to Solve Problems
You must recognize issues and problems, so dedicate time to your agenda to identify the issues and come up with a time or action to solve problems rather than using up too much time in the sales meeting. By dedicating time to the meeting for issues, you will be less likely to have the flow of your sales team meetings hijacked by a compliant session.
Silimar to prospect and customer meetings, you want your team engaging more than you talking. To do this, you need to facilitate discussion. Ask questions more than make statements. Draw out discussion and facilitate equal participation. Keeping people involved will make their experience more exciting, and they will share what you need to hear to challenge and support them.
Promote Team Learning
There is power in WE. Let the team teach and learn from each other. Team learning will only come naturally for some groups; they’ll need you, their leader, to facilitate this. When someone has a question, let the team answer it. Most people find it interesting to teach others something they know. Sales book studies are another great way to learn together.
Promote Shared leadership
In addition to team learning, you can allow for shared leadership. Let others lead the meeting or portions of a meeting. Allow for people to facilitate and improve the skill of guiding the conversation. Allow someone to build the agenda and conduct the whole meeting.
When you change up leadership, the other team members will listen differently and you can challenge everyone to provide their teammate support. Lastly, you can focus on their development through observation and interjecting thoughts or questions.
Focus On Quality During Pipeline Reviews
Looking at numbers is a quick and easy process. Learning from those numbers is where the money is. Rather than simply looking at the numbers in a pipeline, allow each salesperson to share about the sales conversations or messaging they’ve had with their prospects. Make them share “what they did” and what worked or did not work that contributed to their week. You want to dig into the type of conversations people had more than the cold facts of the opportunity.
Some questions you might consider asking would be:
- How were you introduced (referred) to your prospect?
- What have you identified as their key buying motives or pain points?
- Have you yet established an agreement to be introduced to all buyers involved in the decision? If so, how did that conversation go?
- What can you tell us about your prospects’ buying process?
- If you did not meet your activity goals last week, what will be this weeks goal and your commitment to attaining it?
Keep Promises Accountable
Keep notes on all action items and promises and review the list the following week. Some sales leaders find using the agenda as a place for these items makes it easy to see if we got them done.
Be Flexible With Your Team
Sometimes the only time to meet with the hard-to-reach client is during a sales meeting. This is what the meetings are for; producing more sales! Never make an issue about this. If they can’t be present, they might be able to tele or web conference. If one or more are missing as a rule rather than an exception, ask for frank feedback on the quality of the meetings.
I recently had a rep rescheduling last minute with me for three weeks in a row, so I asked if he felt our meeting time was losing its value and importance. He reassured me it wasn’t and has been back on schedule.
Be a Meeting Facilitator
You’ll need to be an effective communicator and facilitator when you promote conversation and engagement. As a facilitator, you’ll be responsible for the following:
- Keeping the meeting on track and on time
- Monitoring and managing participation
- Cutting someone off when they are taking over the meeting
- Calling on people to speak who are not participating
- Maintaining accountable communication and commitments
There you have it. Keep out of the meeting killers, organize and structure your meeting, then lead in a supportive and facilitative manner. We’d love to hear how your sales team meetings are improving.