Energize Your Sales Meetings
Companies seem to love meetings, drawn to them like moths to the light.
Cheryl was a manager about to lead a sales meeting and her body language and voice tone could not hide her lack of interest. Her sales team looked equally bored, glancing at their laptops, checking email and texts as the meeting got underway.
“Thanks for coming in today, the meeting should not take too long, I just have a few updates for you…”
I was conducting discovery for a coaching class that we were preparing for a telecommunications client. Cheryl was the first of four managers I was slated to watch in action. A general malaise settled over the room about 10 minutes into the 1 ½ hour meeting. People increased their coffee intake as we ploughed through some updates, went down some rabbit holes and listened patiently to detailed pipeline reports from each of the 8 sales people present.
The meeting started and ended on a spectacular low and the team shuffled out. Déjà vu washed over me as I remembered one of my sales managers from a previous life that would hold team meetings every Monday morning, whether we needed it or not (we invariably didn’t) The meetings always lasted two to three hours. Most of the team travelled between 20 and 80 miles to get there so would add on an hour or two and grab lunch with the team. It was great for camaraderie but meant we took 4 to 6 hours out of every Monday which equated to an annual loss of production of about 10%.
Meetings that disrupt flow and waste time seem to happen with alarming regularity. I am not sure who these meetings are for and why we continue holding them. The intent of a sales meeting is to motivate and inspire, all too often they frustrate and bemuse.
Sales managers have a challenging job, not only employed to run the sales side of the business, but expected to deliver sales meetings that charge up the team so they are ready to set the world on fire, not set themselves on fire.
Leading interesting, engaging and energetic sales meetings week in and week out is a tough ask. Throw in a complacent sales force with no wish to be there and managers who are going through the motions and it is obvious something’s got to give.
To start holding better meetings start with this brainstorm:
To gain ideas, commitment and buy in from the team
Note paper and pens for team members
Approximate time required:
Suggest a quick brainstorm session. Start off by telling your team that your goal in 2014 is to hold even better team meetings.
Split team members into pairs and ask them to take 1 minute and answer the following question:
What would a really good team leader/Supervisor/ Manager do to make these meetings much more effective and valuable to you in 2014?
Ask each pair to take 1 minute to discuss and take notes
Ask each pair for one or two of their suggestions. Call on all team members until you have all of their suggestions written on the flip chart.
Thank your team for their suggestions and tell your team that you will try to follow these suggestions and generally do a better job, and then add:
“But, I could try and improve and you could just sit back and not help make these meetings any better”
Ask them to work with their partner and take one minute to answer the following question:
What will you do to make these meetings even better in 2014?
Ask each pair to give you one or two of their suggestions. Continue to get answers from the rest of the team until you have all of their suggestions. Write them on the flipchart
o Note: This is your chance to add some suggestions of your own:
o Open mindedness
o Participation – don’t use laptops/ text during meetings
o Step out of comfort zone
o Willing to try new things
Finish the exercise by pointing at the flip-chart and saying:
“I will commit to do that (point at their list of demands for you) if you commit to doing this (point at their list)
People support a world they create. This simple little brainstorm session can be a very effective tool at changing the behavior of a group, if done well.