By Kevin Higgins
Fusion Learning polled sales leaders about the quality of their sales meetings, and the average was a 6.3 out of 10. Only 21 percent rated their meetings at 8 out of 10 or higher — leaving 79 percent at 7 out of 10 or less.
If you find yourself heading into a meeting and you know at the end of it you’ll rate it at 7 out of 10 or less, would you want to attend? Not me. Now think of your sales team. How energized will they be?
Sales meetings are a critical component of a great sales culture. They are your opportunity to build the skills of the entire team and to motivate them. Contrary to what many sales leaders believe, they don’t need to be loaded down with content. In each meeting, if you provide your team with just one idea, strategy or tactic that will improve their game, and motivate with some positive reinforcement or reward, you will see a gain in productivity and sales results.
You can do this if you follow the six keys we’ve developed to guarantee successful sales team meetings:
1. Start With an Energizer
Salespeople are high energy and it’s important to tap this energy early and often. Start your meetings on time and start with some fun. Reward those who show up on time to help eliminate the lateness factor. At Fusion, from week to week you’ll find us doing trivia games, telling funny stories, sharing sales highlights of the week and commenting on their focus for the month ahead. We’ve created more than 70 different energizers and captured them so our sales leaders have great energizers at their fingertips for every sales meeting.
2. Keep It Simply Simple (K.I.S.S.)
This principle will prevent you from bloating your meeting agenda. Always ask, “Does this item need to be in the meeting or could it be done outside the meeting or as pre-work?" You keep it simply simple with four steps: fast – the pace of the meeting; fun – creating the right atmosphere; create value – helping the team to better execute on a key sales skills that will help them close business; and shared ownership – having team members involved and sharing on a regular basis.
3. Follow Three Rules for Individual Updates
A fantastic and very important part of the meeting carries one caveat: The topic for individual updates must be small, with answers timed so that they don’t disrupt the overall agenda for the meeting or sap the team’s energy. The three rules for individual updates are set time limits; create different themes around successes, key learnings and focus for the time ahead; and know when to take individual issues offline.
4. Motivate and Reward
You must build motivation into every team meeting. The sales team has a tough challenge and need to feel supported and recognized for their hard work. This isn’t about big gifts or exceptional moments; the simplest “thank you" can have great meaning. Categories that we’ve used include: fun rewards (which might include a kitschy item of clothing or trophy); competitive awards (organized around key metrics or goals, or having the team demonstrate a specific skill and then selecting a winner); team awards (where there is an incentive for the whole team or where each team member recognizes the efforts of someone who supported them); recognition awards; and external rewards where you get feedback from outside the team about team members or where you recognize someone outside of sales for their help and support.
5. Include a Capability Activity
Ongoing professional development is the way your team will stay at the top of their game. Every sales meeting must stretch and challenge team members’ skills and expertise. It is the key to delivering value and delivering on the expectation of the meeting rating at least an 8-out-of-10. Capability activities can focus on prospecting, networking, lead generation, client meetings, presenting solutions, or closing.
While this is not part of an excellent sales meeting, it will help you create them and ensure that you consistently rank an 8 or higher. Keep your agendas in a folder for reference so you don’t repeat any of the fun and creative segments.
We’ve applied these six keys to our own sales meetings and have managed to bring the amount of preparation time a sales leader needs to 10 minutes or less per meeting. Anybody can have an 8-out-of-10 meeting when they spend two hours preparing for it! Consistently high-value meetings planned in less time are great results. This focused and consistent investment of your time will guarantee gains in your sales teams’ productivity and overall results.
Kevin Higgins is the CEO of Fusion Learning Inc., recognized by Selling Power as one of the top 20 sales training companies in North America, and as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers for 2014. He is the author of “Engage Me: Strategies From the Sales Effectiveness Source."