One of the challenges for any sales manager, especially a fairly new manager, is conducting an effective sales meeting while consistently engaging your team. It can be extremely difficult to supply your team with valuable information without erring on the side of boring lectures and mundane sales tips. The purpose of a sales meeting is to engage your team, have the team participate and be able to share positive and constructive feedback.
When I was first promoted to a sales manager, I inherited a team whose manager was recently promoted to a Director role. He had a well oiled sales team in place and ran solid sales meetings. I figured that since I already had the personal rapport with the members on the team, it would be easy for me to follow his template for the sales meeting and have it be a success. Step 1: Run through the forecast. Step 2: Talk about what's going on in the market. Step 3: Work in a little role playing if there is time. Step 4: Make an enthusiastic wrap up that pumps up the team. It seemed easy enough.
My assumption had proven to be wrong when I looked out at the team during the meeting and realized that I wasn't keeping their attention, nor was I adding any value to them. I could sense from the team that the meetings were a complete waste of their time and I needed to change my approach if these meetings were going to be saved.
It took me a little time to find a groove but I realized that solid sales meetings take ongoing preparation. The meetings should be able to accomplish several things during a short amount of time. One of the first challenges that I faced was, "What do I talk about after we finish forecast?" What I settled on was on a weekly basis was to keep a running list of potential subjects and broke them down to Must Talk About and Could Talk About. Must Talk About were the issues that I had to cover from either a corporate side or something that I felt we needed to focus on. Could Talk About might be an interesting industry article or trend that could be brought up either this week or next. Now when I prepped for my meeting the night before I could organize what I wanted to cover. Taking time to prep is the key to running a successful sales meeting. You must block out this time!
Have an agenda and I set a timeline. Write out a meeting outline and bring copies for your team. You must keep your team engaged throughout the meeting but always remember, these are salespeople you're talking to. Salespeople are notorious for having short attention spans and your salespeople are probably thinking about a number of different things while you're blabbing away. Your outline lets your salespeople see what you want to accomplish and they can see when the meeting is going to end. This also keeps your salespeople focused until the end of the meeting and mitigates the time they spend fidgeting in their chair thinking about when they can get that cup of coffee they are dying for.
Lastly, take control and stick to what you want to accomplish. Make sure that you keep your meeting on track and relevant to the tasks you're hoping to accomplish. Do not let your sales people hijack your meeting into the direction that they choose. If the subject they begin to discuss is not relevant to the tasks at hand, address the concern as valid and offer them time to speak with you about the subject once the meeting is over. Keep things positive and wrap up the meeting in a way that makes everyone feel accomplished.
Just remember, the best sales meetings are properly planned, concise and relevant. Every once in a while you can throw in an activity for team building or brainstorming, but always make sure you are engaging your team. With a little organization, your sales meetings will seem like a walk in the park.