It’s one of the most mocked gatherings in business: the weekly sales meeting.
Everyone knows what to expect.
Everyone leaves with nearly the same mindset they came in with.
Of course, it’s important to check in often to make sure everyone’s on the same page and that your team is moving toward its collective goals. But when those “updates” aren’t really improving anything — when they become routines marked by the same old pipeline update spiels, lack of eye contact and awkward fidgeting — that’s when it becomes a waste of everyone’s precious time.
More can be done with effective sales management – and our tips below – to fix your meeting cadence.
But first: What’s so wrong with the traditional sales meeting?
Tom Searcy, sales strategist and founder of Hunt Big Sales, calls it an “all-victim meeting,” as no one truly wants to be present.
“The managers get very little of value out of that meeting — they just think they’re supposed to have them,” he said. “The reps get no value out of that meeting — they just think they’re supposed to go. It’s a pointless meeting.”
Instead of focusing on simply checking off sales meetings on their weekly to-do list, sales managers should focus on taking advantage of the meetings to drive results. After all, it’s one of the few times the whole team gets to come together.
The meeting should solve specific and widespread problems, be used to make strategic decisions, and offer actionable takeaways that everyone leaves the meeting excited to accomplish.
Searcy said managers should need no more than 30 minutes to hold meetings – rather than a whole hour – as they should already be aware of details that otherwise gobble up time and cause the team to zone out.
In fact, if you have a small enough team, or enough time to dedicate to meetings, Searcy recommends giving your salespeople one-on-one time to zone in on any issues and support timely improvements at the individual level.
1. Be prepared
Simply by having a CRM system, managers can stay abreast of where each sales rep’s deals stand at all times. Such visibility in sales means you can spend less time recapping everyone’s past progress – being redundant — and more time on subjects that affect and assist everyone’s planned progress.
Jon Petz, author of Boring Meetings Suck: Get More Out of Your Meetings, or Get Out of More Meetings, said if you have to have a meeting, preparation is the key to keeping them short, meaningful, and where appropriate, exciting.
“I'm not against sales meetings,” said Petz, who’s also a former sales executive-turned-corporate speaker and comedian. “I’m against those that suck the productive time away from a salesperson’s opportunity to connect with a client.”
CRMs put data, analytics and tools at a team’s fingertips like never before. Great ones, Petz said, “help us avoid surprises … so we have opportunities to address a problem, instead of complain about it in front of our peers, sucking the positive energy out of the room.”
Effective sales meetings should be used to move the team forward, not set them back to dwell in the past.
2. Limit distractions
Once prepared for take off, banning the use of digital devices during meetings clears the runway for team updates. Of course, if someone has a client call or emergency to keep an eye out for – this is OK – but it is a good idea to make sure they communicate the exception with the rest of the team.
Being “disconnected” will curb the temptation to wander off during meetings, for you and your team. As sales meetings only take up a small fraction of the week, limiting the use of digital devices shouldn’t be an issue.
If everyone is engaged with new and valuable information, participants shouldn’t need to resort to their phones, tablets or laptops.
When everyone’s all in, it creates a better space for the whole team. The presenter will feel more confident in sharing his or her updates, and the listeners will be able to retain more information. It’s a win-win situation for both ends of the table.
3. Share the floor
You can liven up meetings by shifting the weight around the room and allowing everyone a chance to contribute. Letting the same voices dominate the meetings can keep things mundane and seemingly belittle the “quiet ones” on the team. Mix things up. Designate a time for everyone to chime in. Everyone has different experiences that will add variety and value to the team in one way or another.
Petz recommends a “suckification reduction device” he calls the “Two ‘n’ Out” meeting:
“Each person has two minutes or less to share their updates, calling out any prospects or opportunities that should be discussed separately to tactically address the strategy and move on to the next step,” he said. “[This teaches people] to be succinct, share the important or exciting, and move on.”
This equal share of time will reassure everyone their input is valued, their time is being used wisely, and they are a part of the team. As each team member is assured an opportunity to be heard, it should be easier for them to use their allocated time appropriately and only for the team’s benefit.
4. Encourage new ideas
You don’t have to limit your meetings to sales talk. The work of a salesperson often goes deeper than the sale. Think about the “normal” conversations your team has as they get to know their prospects. Think about what subjects come up: Family. Recent events. Hobbies.
Everyone should feel free to discuss those same conversation-fillers amongst their co-workers and convert them into a new source of inspiration for their work.
In this way, your sales meeting can also be seen as a sort of retreat from the hustle and bustle of the sales cycle – a safe space with and for your team. It’s OK to step back for a moment and encourage creative expression and conversation about life happenings. Try asking for one person to bring something new to the table from the outside, to teach and share, and for everyone to discuss their thoughts on the topic.
These outside experiences are often what help salespeople to show prospects a little of who they are on the inside.
5. Add friendly competition
Everyone should leave your meetings ready to conquer the rest of the day, week, or even sales quarter.
Sales meetings are the perfect time to boost the motivation the team needs to surpass their prior personal record or one-up a co-worker. This can be achieved by setting fun goals together, publicly recognizing achievements within the group, and gathering creative input from everyone on the team on how they’d like to be rewarded next.
Sales meetings should bring the best out of everyone on the team and fuel them to immediately take action for sales success. By making these small changes, your sales meetings can go from “stuffy” to fulfilling in no time.
If you’re a little hesitant about drastically changing the flow of what you’ve been used to in your meetings, try implementing one key at a time and see how much of a difference even a small change makes.