When it comes to sales meetings, how invested are your salespeople? Do they show up ready to engage and share their ideas? Or do you find yourself viewing a computer monitor window full of dejected and lifeless faces?
The bad news is that most sales meetings proceed in just this way: a weekly mandatory meeting that drones over the big three questions:
What activity have you been doing?
Who did you meet with?
What are your pipeline numbers?
These types of meetings are predictable and rote, and your salespeople expect them to be as much.
The good news is you don't need to keep re-hashing the same old questions, or follow a tired, worn-out meeting structure just to get the information you are looking for. Here are some suggestions to revive your sales meetings and make them more productive for both you and your sales team.
1. Turn Your Sales Meeting into a Sales Information Meeting
Your team expects a good ol' helping of last week's meeting agenda. Use this as the opportunity to bring a fresh outlook and new ideas. Begin structuring your meetings to gain input, ideas, thoughts and feedback from your sales team. I mean, they are the face of your company, and they are speaking with the customers, so they will have a lot to say. You will be impressed by the level of knowledge they have about the current state of the business they manage.
Additionally, this is a great chance to get the team engaging on their other sales activities, such as prospecting, CRM updates, and questions about advancing and closing deals.
Not only will this help you hold a more productive meeting, but it provides the forum for salespeople to learn from each other, share ideas and best practices, and engage on s strategic level.
2. Assign a Salesperson to Present on a Relevant Sales Topic Each Week
Who says you need to do all the talking? Create a list of relevant sales topics that you know will aid in education and best practice for your team. Assign one salesperson a specific topic each week and ask them to present their research in a 10-15 minute summary. Allow another 5-10 minutes for the other salespeople to respond, comment and provide their opinions on the matter.
Asking your team to present for 10-15 minutes on a topic does the following:
Requires them to synthesize information and articulate it to an audience.
Compels them to work within a specific window of time (no college lectures here).
Offers them a chance to polish their presentation skills in front of a peer audience.
Of course, the other intangibles are the engagement from the rest of the sales team and the topics being discussed. Everyone, including you, will walk away with having learned something new and possibly a new outlook.
3. Add in a Pinch of Sales Coaching and Motivation
Who says that sales meetings can't be motivational? (Cue up the pep squad)
Aside from your one-on-one sales coaching meetings with individual salespeople, use this time to encourage the efforts of the team and reinforce those best practices that you wish to see. This is one of the best times to encourage the team as a whole and bring a sense of unity and cohesiveness in a socially-distant world (see #4 below).
Of course, some coaching goes a long way too. You are the sage that everyone looks to for wisdom and advice, so take the opportunity to coach your team collectively and illicit agreement on the advice you give.
Here's a hint: make sure to periodically ask for your sales team's agreement on the advice or answers you provide during coaching. If your salespeople don't understand how or why the advice or answers are correct or meaningful to them, you risk having the advice be lost on them and not put into practice. Remember also that not everyone will be comfortable to admit they do not understand - asking for agreement provides them with the chance to have you clarify and explain in a way they do understand.
4. Inspire Unity and Cohesiveness (especially with Remote Employees)
Aide from those dwelling in caves or on independent space exploration in 2020, we all understand the meaning of social separation and disjointedness. Meetings with your team should be a time to bring everyone together and inspire connection.
Remote employees are becoming the less-seen and unspoken majority for a number of companies. Although the benefits to having remote employees include staffing in under-developed territories and those reductions in facilities spending, there are negatives too:
Isolation from family and friends
Disconnection by means of technology (slow bandwidth and freezing webcams)
Complications of distance while working with colleagues or customers
The loss of face-to-face interaction which drives value in the sales process
Take time during your meetings to check-in with your team. Ask how they are. Ask how they are doing. Ask how the events of 2020 have been affecting them personally, not just in their business. The meetings do not need to turn into a bull session, but some time needs to be allotted for relaxed, informal discussion. The team needs to understand that you understand. Providing some time for people to share (and vent) their frustrations or challenges in operating in a socially-distant world helps everyone relate on a human level and brings more unity and cohesiveness to the team.
5. Bring the Energy for Engagement You Want to Receive
It needs to be said that you get back what you invest. The same goes for time with your sales team. If you show up feeling uninspired and dreading another meeting, then guess what? So does your team.
Your team takes their cues from you. If you show up to your own meeting with low energy, dejection and a sense of "let's get this over-with, I have things to do", then your team will begin the same exact way. Set the example that you wish to see in your team.
Now, you don't need to act like an 8 year-old on a sugar high, but you do need to speak and convey a level of energy that inspires engagement, brainstorming, critical thinking and motivation. Sales is a hard profession: there are many ways and opportunities for salespeople to focus on the negative. It is your job to help them look forward to your meetings are re-connect after a sometimes bad or stressful week.
The Best Time to Start Is Now
Some of the best words that are still as important today as when they were first written:
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese Proverb.
Begin anew with a better type of sales meeting. Do it for both you and your sales team. If you are missing any of the points above, start small: begin to add or adjust what you have been doing. Let your team know that you are making some fresh new changes to your usual sales meetings. Get them excited and curious about the new tone of the meetings and how everyone will walk away having learned and gained more for their time.
They will thank you, and you will thank yourself.