At the appointed hour, everyone comes shuffling into the conference room. Well, almost everyone -- there’s inevitably going to be a few that straggle in 10 or even 20 minutes later. Some will sit and discreetly look at their phones, hidden in their laps. Others will bring in their laptops, only glancing up from the screen if they’re asked a direct question.
This could be a description of almost any meeting, but if it’s your sales team meeting, you have a problem.
Great sales managers already know that if you’re going to bring the team together, it better be for an important reason. After all, simple status updates about where a particular account or deal is at can be shared through a phone call, email or text. Same with information about company policies, or even changes to the comp plan.
Sales team meetings should be where everyone learns something new, input is gathered and decisions are made. If your agenda covers those areas, you’re on the right track. Some examples of items that should be a regular part of the agenda might include:
Of course, some of these areas will be of greater interest to those managing the sales team versus those in the trenches, who may wish they could just stick with written reports rather than getting together. That’s why you should think of other areas of discussion that would touch on things they care about. Think of these as “segments” in your meeting. They don’t have to take a lot of time, but they could add a lot in terms of impact:
Usually people come to a sales team meeting in a strange, almost awkward kind of silence. When they’re not on the phone or in meetings, however, chances are that reps are listening to their favourite music. Ask a different team member before each meeting to share a track that gets them particularly motivated or energized before they begin their first outreach to customers in the day. You may find it helps the team understand their coworker’s tastes and preferences in a way that makes them a little more human.
No matter what you’re selling, there will always be many changes taking place across the industry. This could include a recent M&A between two of your customers, changes in leadership at a major account, or even macroeconomic trends like a shift in overall spending that has been noted by research. Think about opening your meeting with a brief overview of the trends or stories that stand out, and discuss what they might mean for what the sales team needs to do in terms of approaching customers and prospects.
Being a sales rep means hearing objections -- sometimes the same ones over and over again. Sales team meetings are an ideal arena in which to arm reps with strategies, tactics or even additional information they can use to persuade customers to think differently about whatever’s stopping them from making a purchase. When these work, they become morale-boosting stories that should be shared in detail with others in the group. Carve out time for this in each meeting and you’ll convey a sense of progress that the entire company is making as it refines its pitch or value proposition.
In the movie The Wolf Of Wall Street, there’s a now-famous scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character tests the abilities of a potential hire by asking him to make a pitch for something as commonplace as a writing tool. Some companies now even use this in the hiring process, but it could be a fun way to close the sales team meeting if you use it for a role-play exercise. Find volunteers in advance to be the customer, but be spontaneous in selecting or asking for a volunteer to do the pitching. Keep it short and encourage the others to shout out advice. Change what they need to sell to keep it interesting and consider offering a prize for an outstanding performance, even if it’s just buying them coffee the next day.
Great managers not only say “good job!” to their staff -- they get specific about the behaviours and actions that demonstrate a real effort to provide value to customers or the organization. Why not end each sales team meeting with at least a few of these observations, whether it’s how a rep used data from the CRM to win more business, how they collaborated with the marketing team or even how they built upon something they learned in the previous meeting to change their approach to selling? Describe what they did in as much detail as possible -- and finish off with a sincere thank you. That’s the best way to finish any employee gathering, but especially a sales team meeting.