How to conduct sales meetings that bring results might not be what you think. I work with businesses as a consultant. One small but growing company has retained me to work with twelve managers on leadership development. One of the managers worked with me twenty years ago. He’s the sales manager for this organization. Last week, he asked me how, twenty years ago, I got so much out of him and others from our meetings. How did I conduct sales meetings that brought results? I told him. He took notes. I’ll share it with you, but first, let’s set the stage. (If you can’t wait, jump ahead to how to get the most out of every meeting.)
How to Conduct Sales Meetings that Bring Results
Keys to an Effective Sales Meeting
Have a Plan
I don’t care how good of an extemporaneous speaker you are; you’ll do much better with a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should know what you want to cover, who you want to involve, and how you will deliver the message. How to Plan an Effective Meeting
Follow a Schedule
Set a start time, be on time, and expect others to be punctual. This is where most advisers tell you to have a start and an end time, but I won’t. You should have a “no later than” time but not an arbitrary end time. Parkinson’s Law states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I will explain this rule before meetings and state we may not need all the allotted time; if so, we’ll end early. 3 Ways Understanding Parkinson’s Law Leads to More Productive Meetings
Don’t Gripe and Complain
I worked for a sales manager who spent every morning complaining about the previous day in a sales meeting. If business was good, he scolded the team on paperwork; if the paperwork was good, he told us our work areas weren’t professional enough. He never had a problem naming names and calling people out. After being called out publicly, one team member stood up, tossed his office keys at the sales manager, and stormed out; he didn’t return. A meeting isn’t the place for reprimand—that should be one-on-one. A meeting is a place for recognition, not castigation.
Your team will only listen to 15 – 20 minutes of you droning on and on before they fade away. To avoid this:
- Involve your team in the meeting.
- Allow them to ask questions rather than lecture.
- Call on teammates to share, demonstrate, or offer advice.
- Don’t be the only one in the room talking.
I’ve conducted thousands of sales meetings; at one time, I held meetings five days a week for more than seven years. Very few of my meetings lasted thirty minutes. Most were shorter. The key to meeting brevity is to keep it simple by choosing one topic and not straying from it.
Don’t settle for turning phones off—leave them out of the room. Even a phone on mute is a distraction. And leave yours out of the meeting as well. Don’t allow interruptions. Tell your staff to take messages and DND the meeting. Very few things in life are so urgent they can’t wait 30 minutes.
How to Get the Most Out of Every Meeting
In the first paragraph, I told the story of my former teammate asking me how I got the team to produce from meetings. The answer is all the points listed above, plus actions and commitments. I learned the most effective meetings ended with an action plan and a commitment to follow through. Actions and commitments should be at the top of the list for how to conduct sales meetings.
- At the beginning of the meeting, introduce the topic and announce the end goal of the meeting, which is for each to devise an action plan and commit to the plan.
- Share actionable ideas throughout the meeting.
- Allow team members to devise an action plan of their own.
- At the end of the meeting, ask for each member’s action plan and their commitment to follow through.
- Note the action plans for follow-up.
When I gave my former teammate the answer to his question, I said to end with an action plan and a commitment. He looked thoughtful, made a note, and said, “Yea, that’s it.” I waited a minute and asked, “What’s your plan?”
Are You in Sales Management?
Are you leading people or managing projects? Do you set goals based on activities to continue, eliminate, or improve or do you strictly look at the results? Do you believe one sales strategy fits all your clients and all your sales team? If so, you’re walking the streets I paved, and those streets lead to disappointment. The good news is if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you can change. I did. I eventually became a highly effective sales manager and so can you. This workbook is a good place to start. The New Sales Managers Workbook