Running Effective Sales Meetings

Companies seem to range from one extreme to the other.  Either they don’t hold any sales meetings or they’re “meeting’d” to death. Here are some guidelines that can help keep your sales meetings productive and effective.

Schedule meetings during non-selling time if possible

Have breakfast meetings in the office, not at a restaurant.  Assign someone to pick up some muffins or whatever.  Have someone else come in a bit early to put on the coffee and make sure the room is set up. The same thing can be done with an early evening meeting by having pizza (or whatever) sent in.

Holding your weekly sales meeting during off-hours will give your salespeople 2-4 extra selling hours a week. This may not seem like much, but, on the basis of a 40-hour week, they’ve just gained 5 to 10% more selling time. If your people could sell 10% more with this extra time, how would that impact your bottom-line?

Use flextime

Just because you’ve scheduled two hours for a meeting doesn’t mean that it must run for two hours. If you find your business is completed in less time, shut it down! Don’t allow fruitless activity and chit chat to expand to fill the allotted time.

Have a deadline

If a two-hour meeting has been scheduled, then terminate it at two hours. Smart salespeople have places to go, people to meet and appointments to keep. If they don’t, they should! Get them out of the meeting and in front of prospects where they can make money for both of you.

Keep control

Have a written agenda and assign times to each item. Know which items can be postponed if necessary and which must be dealt with at this meeting. Use the agenda as a timetable to keep the meeting on track. If a topic is running too long, briefly stop the meeting and let everyone know that time is running short. This often creates a time pressure and speeds up the discussion.

Prepare them for the meeting

Send the agenda to your people prior to the meeting so they will have time to collect their thoughts on the various issues and be better prepared. One of our clients sends an advance agenda and asks each salesperson to prioritize every item and return it before the meeting. This way he knows which topics are important to his people.

Share the limelight

Consider rotating the chair and other responsibilities. This allows everyone the opportunity to be involved. For example, you could ask someone to give a brief talk on a particular product or service as part of your product knowledge training.

Start positive

Begin the meeting with each person briefly sharing a success, no matter how small, from the previous week. The weekly sales meeting is not the time to hang your people out to dry. Compliment in public, criticize in private. If the whole crew is below par, don’t use the meeting to chide them. Express your concerns on a one-to-one basis in private.

End positive

Selling isn’t an easy profession and even the toughest of us need a pat on the back from time to time. The weekly meeting is a good time to comment on some of the positive things that have happened to your people and to compliment them on their successes. Part of your job as a sales manager is to motivate your salespeople and this is a good time to do it. Fire ’em up but be sure to do it in a sincere manner. Professional salespeople don’t like hype any more than your customers do.