If you’re like a lot of sales managers, there’s a chance that — at some point in your sales management career — you have stared at a room full of reps who stared back at you with boredom, disinterest, or resistance.
That might be happening because . . .
- They have too much energy to stay in one place.
- If they’re in a meeting, they realize they’re not making money.
- They’re thinking about some last-minute customer demands.
Let’s face it: Most sales meetings are boring. Often, they’re simply a manager and a team of reps going over a list of prospects and how many deals they think they’ll win by the end of the month.
The best sales meetings — ones salespeople want to attend — do more than that.
For thirty-five years, we’ve run sales training programs. They’re basically sales meetings on steroids. Here are 15 lessons we’ve learned that might help your sales meetings:
- Mix them up: Every meeting shouldn’t be the same. Salespeople prefer variety to consistency. If you change your meetings a bit each time, they become more interesting. There are a couple of suggestions about how to do that in this list.
- Share the responsibility: One of the best ways to mix them up is to ask your reps to lead the meetings. Not only does this relieve some of your burden, but it also gives them a chance to see what it’s like to facilitate a group of salespeople (they’ll should have a bit more respect for you afterwards!)
- Venue: Don’t always meet in a conference room or on a conference call. If you always meet at the same conference room, try a different place. If you always have a conference call, try meeting via video conference or in-person every now-and-then.
- Train: Incorporate skills-based sales training that will help them sell better. Salespeople appreciate anything that helps them sell more. By incorporating sales skills development exercises into a meeting, you can help them accomplish their goal.
- Case Studies: Another great way to provide training in meetings is by asking your reps to bring “case studies” of challenging sales interactions to their meetings. The group can then discuss best practices and game plan ways to handle similar situations in the future.
- Keep it short: Salespeople are notorious for their short attention spans. If a meeting can be accomplished in thirty minutes, make it twenty-five.
- End on time: At all costs, end on time! A meeting that runs beyond its scheduled time disrupts everyone’s schedules and reduces attendance for your next meeting. If you think the meeting will take 20 minutes, schedule 25. In order, here’s what people prefer: (1) Getting out Early, (2) Getting out on time, (3) There isn’t anything else that they prefer.
- Make it meaningful: Nobody likes meeting for the sake of meeting. If you want to improve attendance, make sure there’s a reason reps should show up.
- Agenda: Build one. Send it out. Stick to it.
- Stay on Track: Put off-target ideas or suggestions to the side and stay on topic. Create a list of those off-target items and find another time to discuss them.
- Invites: Use “Outlook’s Meeting Invites” or “Meeting Makers” to put the meetings in your reps’ calendars. If they use some other method for keeping track of their schedules, be certain your meeting times, dates, locations, or conference call numbers are there.
- Takeaways or Action Items: Clearly present the call-to-action. If follow-up is required, be very clear about the expectations that are associated with it. Who is responsible? When should they have it taken care of? Answering these kinds of questions while everyone is together is much easier than trying to follow-up and track people down.
- Info Flow: If all you’re doing is lecturing, why not just send an email? Meetings are for two-way communication. We’ve all sat through boring meetings where someone just talks and talks. Allow everyone to participate.
- Confirmation: You probably expect your salespeople to confirm their meetings with prospects. Do the same with them.
- Follow-up: Follow-up with your reps. Send out an overview or record of what was discussed and agreed to.
In short, meetings that people want to attend are engaging. Do whatever you can to encourage engagement among your reps with your meetings.