How To Hold Effective Sales Meetings

What makes a great Sales Meeting?

Very often, sales meetings are held just because that is what has always been done. If they are not handled well they become enormous time wasters and demotivators. Generally speaking, sales people dislike meetings. They see them as mere annoyances that are keeping them away from their selling time. Sales people are the lifeblood of the business and any time not spent in front of potential customers needs to be minimised.

Unless it is completely unavoidable, you should only have sales meetings when there is something important to deal with. Otherwise, have a meetings schedule, stick to it and ensure that outcomes are of tangible value to your customers and/or prospects. Acknowledge successes, identify problems, create solutions and implement immediately.

Criticism and Focus

Dragging out a sales meeting with statistics, targets and questions on why the July results were not as good as May and June is counter productive. Nothing demotivates and frustrates a sales force more than what they perceive to be uninformed criticism from managers who spend little or no time “in the field”. They often view management as people who do not understand what it is like to be a sales person.

A happy sales team has meetings that recognise success, offer encouragement and are over quickly. A good Sales Manager understands this and encourages his or her sales team to get out amongst the prospects, customers and clients at every opportunity. If individual criticism is warranted, this should be handled on a “one to one” basis and kept well clear of team meetings.

The best way to keep things focused is to have the meeting standing up. You think I’m joking? Oh, no! It is said that this method is used by the Queen in the UK to manage her Privy Council meetings – everyone keeps to the point to ensure the sovereign isn’t kept standing for too long.

Elements of effective sales meetings

The main elements of effective sales meetings are now pretty clear:

1. An effective agenda that is short, sharp and to the point. It addresses the important issues and invites solutions from within the team.

2. Focus on key issues such as problems that are impeding the sales process or slowing the team down. Administrative issues that are preventing the team from achieving maximum results should be treated as a priority. Sales people, as a rule, dislike paperwork or red tape.

3. Review of previous action requirements. Are processes being followed and implemented successfully?

4. Setting up short/long term goals. Steady progress over a long term is better than rapid growth for many reasons. The sales team must be able to repeat successes constantly rather than working hard for the first 3 months of the year only to burn out in the 2nd Quarter of the year.

5. Open talk and interaction among members for innovative ideas. Sales people are usually good networkers. Encourage your people to talk freely about methods that are working for them. After all, your sales force is a team.

6. Identification and allocation of action items. Invite your team to set group goals and targets. Timelines are critical if these goals are to be met.

It should be noted that communications technology now allows collaboration via the internet and mobile phone. This should be used as much as possible to reduce wasted time and travel expenses, improve speed of communication and boost productivity.

However, be aware that nothing replaces the value of face-to-face interaction, so balance accordingly.

The author, John Kirk, is a Small Business Trainer, Mentor, Public Speaker and former Financial Advisor. John teaches Micro Business Management at Illawarra ITeC, one of the largest Training Organisations south of Sydney, Australia. In addition, he regularly conducts workshops and seminars focusing on cashflow, budgeting, marketing, networking and the business mindset for small business owners.

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