I am fortunate each month to be able to work closely with a handful of Sales Leaders from across the United States as well as a couple of handfuls of the Sales Professionals who report to them. Not surprisingly, sometimes the sales professionals tell me the weekly sales meetings are tedious and uninspiring. Occasionally, they even relay to me that the sales meetings are almost entirely without any redeeming value. The question you ought to be asking yourself right now is this: Are my sales meetings valuable to my sales team, or do they find them about as useful as an hour or two stuck in traffic? The bad news is that sometimes any of us can become stuck in traffic. When it happens, we are often very frustrated because we have little control over what happens until we get out of the traffic jam. When you are leading a sales team, the great news is that your sales meeting is a reflection of you. If you prioritize your sales meeting, and you regularly prepare to make them highly valuable to your team, they can become one of the best tools you have to adjust your sales team for predictable success.
Commit To Creating Value:
If you want your sales meetings to be productive, you must realize that following an old school model doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked frankly since at least the 1970s or thereabouts. Don’t just show up unprepared and grind everyone through a review of their pipeline opportunities. Don’t make the sales meeting about you. Don’t use the sales meeting as a one or two-hour exercise of exerting control over your sales team or an opportunity to cover your backside… Instead, commit to making every interaction with your sales team, one that will create value for the sales professionals. They took a job with you because they wanted to learn from you and to help you to achieve success and reliably predictable results. They didn’t sign up for a weekly disappointment.
Coaching & Development Opportunities:
The best sales meetings are those that create value for the sales teams who attend them. Put your sales team first. Invest in them. Prepare meticulously for each weekly sales meeting. Don’t just show up and throw up. Think well in advance about what is going on in the business and incorporate what you’ve learned this week into the weekly meeting. Think in advance about what specific individuals on the sales team learned during their activities and call upon them to share their stories and their learning with the rest of the group. Sales meetings should be about equipping your sales team to have success in selling your products and services. Sales meetings should be about getting your sales team excited about the things you’re doing to help them to greater success. Equip them for success, and they’ll pay close attention. Give them a stake in the weekly meeting, and they’ll willingly attend because they are smart enough to know a good meeting helps them, while a lousy meeting takes up a bunch of their valuable time. Coaching and developing should be the bulk of your sales meeting, not dissecting minute movements in your pipeline.
Consider Your Cadence:
At some of the companies where the sales meetings are not as effective as they would hope, we noticed the sales meetings are held on Monday morning or Monday afternoon. One of my Shooting Star Sales Leaders spends the bulk of his Monday having one-hour meetings with each AE on his sales team. He comes prepared, and he pays close, acute attention to what his sales team has done in the week since his last one on one. He takes notes about what he learns from each AE, and he incorporates that valuable learning into his preparation for his TUESDAY sales meeting with the entire team. Because his Monday conversations with each AE are fresh in his mind, his Tuesday sales meeting is custom-tailored to address the issues and opportunities he uncovered on Monday. As a result, the Tuesday sales meeting is far more effective than most Monday sales meetings, because they often include a hodgepodge of items that were covered last week, etc. Consider changing your old ways. Would YOUR sales team benefit from a first thing Tuesday morning meeting instead of a Monday meeting? Only you will know for sure…
Don’t Cancel An Ineffective Meeting:
I frequently hear Leaders who are admitting that their meetings leave a bit to be desired, thinking out loud that perhaps they should skip the sales meeting or cancel it. That is an outlandish idea that ought to be eradicated. Sales meetings are supremely important. Don’t consider skipping or canceling it, if it’s not valuable at the moment. Instead, roll up your sleeves and go to work. FIX the meeting. Understand why it doesn’t create value and FIX the meeting by solving the problems that have left it less than valuable. How do you do that? Summon your courage and go directly to your sales team and ask them to be radically candid with you about whether the weekly sales meeting or one on one sessions are worth their time. If they tell you the meetings need work, resist the temptation to become defensive. Resist the temptation to think the AE is disloyal or insubordinate. Instead, embrace their feedback and use it to guide you in upgrading the value of the meetings. You can do it. SOLVE the session by working at it, and asking for regular feedback on the value of the meeting. If the cost is low, improve the meeting.
Craft The Agenda:
Be mindful and purposeful about the agenda for your sales meeting. Give it some thought. Gather ideas from your team about what would make the conversations helpful and interesting. Avoid getting into a rut and just informing everyone about everything going on in the business. Avoid just scrubbing the pipeline and asking about predictions every week. Remember, you can always scrub the pipeline in one on one meetings with AEs. Instead, elevate your team by promoting the agenda. Put things on the schedule that are purposefully designed to help the sales team to sell more with less complication and less wasted time. Think about equipping your sales team and making them super efficient.
Focus and Create Value:
I attend sales meetings with a lot of my clients to see how the leaders are approaching their meetings. There are some things I observe that you want to avoid. Here’s a list of don’ts that you should avoid like the plague:
- Don’t show up to facilitate a sales meeting unprepared.
- Don’t allow the team to lose focus. If you want them focused on building pipeline or achieving linearity, then talk regularly about those priorities and make them paramount.
- Don’t allow distractions in your meeting. When I see a sales meeting with everyone looking at their laptop or their phone, while the owner or sales leader is droning on about marketing events coming up, or is scrubbing Bob’s pipeline while ten other people disengage, I know I’m looking at a sales team in trouble. Get them to set aside their phones and laptops and listen. No distractions!
Commit To Excellence:
If you want to lead an outstanding sales team, then you need to behave like an exceptional sales leader. Your meetings are the very best opportunities you have to prepare your sales team for the dynasty. Do your job well and make your meetings outstanding, and your sales team will be on the way to outstanding performance. Don’t leave it to chance; make positive changes today.
What do YOU think? Am I crazy? Are bad sales meetings just the way things need to be? Should leaders reinvigorate their sales teams weekly by taking a more thoughtful approach? Should Leadership legislate that Sales Meetings need to create value for every participant? I’d love to hear your thoughts and start a conversation about this, as I’m passionate about changing sales meetings so that they become more valuable.
Michael is an executive development coach to C-Suite Executives, Business Owners, and their Leadership Teams. Michael enjoys working with fast-growth companies in the high technology sector across the United States. Michael is particularly fond of working with Emerging Leaders and has developed an award-winning coaching business around developing the next generation of leaders for fast-growth companies. Michael’s Emerging Leader clients tend to perform better and grow faster than their competitors because they are skilled in leadership and how to collaborate effectively at high speed. If you’d like more information about coaching YOUR Emerging Leaders or if you’d like to arrange for a no-cost, no-obligation coaching session with one of Michael’s coaches, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you Michael’s Best Practices for Highly Effective Meetings tool as a free gift.