It seems to me that many sales managers don’t know exactly what they want to get out of a sales meeting. They know they are supposed to do them.  Maybe even the CEO or president mandates that they have them weekly. Unfortunately, most are ill-conceived and end up wasting time and possibly disenfranchising well-intentioned salespeople.

Here Are My Basic Ground Rules for Effective Sales Meetings:

1. KEEP IT SHORT. The shorter the better – Maintain the sense of urgency associated with the fact that sales meetings are generally taking away from precious selling time.

2. KEEP IT RELEVANT. Due to the fact that the meeting is taking away from precious selling time, it must be relevant to all participants.

  • Be careful not to get lazy and lump things into your meeting that should be discussed one-on-one (like thorough pipeline review, individualized accountability, etc…).
  • Refrain from making it a stage where the prettiest girl in the beauty pageant can smugly wave her beauty in others’ faces. In other words, don’t make it a platform for those certain salespeople (we all know who they are) to just go on and on about how they are excited about this deal or that deal, or that they just got an appointment with Biggest Company in the World. If there is value in discussing a particular deal with the group then discuss it, but be ready to cut people off if they hog the meeting with items that are not of interest to all.

3. POOL YOUR BRAINPOWER. Use the participants to provide brainstorming or “group think” to help get stuck deals unstuck.

4. DON’T LET ROUND-ROBIN SMACK YOU AROUND. If you are going to conduct a round-robin format asking each salesperson to give a download of what they are working on, then be prepared to challenge them in public about their statements. Ask them what the AGREED TO next step is for each deal they discuss. Don’t just let salespeople blather on about this deal and that deal. Better yet, save the pipeline update for private one-on-one sessions where you can challenge them without embarrassing them publicly.

5. USE PRE-MEETING PREP TO SET THE STAGE FOR COLLABORATION. Encourage specific deal conversation where it might help the team. One way to do this might be to ask everyone to come with the one deal they landed or uncovered this week that they are most proud of; one deal they lost that they are most disappointed by; and one deal they need help with. That will get the group engaged and involved. People can learn from each other. Be sure to ask questions about the one deal they are excited about to find out why, to find out how they got it, and is it something they could duplicate in other situations.

6. ROLE PLAY, ROLE PLAY, ROLE PLAY. If a marketing campaign is coming up, have everyone role play what they will say when they follow up with prospects. Suck those secrets out of the best salespeoples’ heads and help the less experienced salespeople learn by hearing and practicing. The more you do this, the more camaraderie that will be developed among your sales team members. They don’t have to come to you for the answers. Help them help each other by practicing.

7. MAKE RESULTS TRANSPARENT. It’s great to publicly share results of the week or month.  Have a standard scorecard and share it weekly or monthly with the team. Make the results of each individual public but be cautious about spending a lot of time on this. Make it public all the time and you can use the meeting time to acknowledge specific efforts and highlight specific deals of interest if desired rather than going through a line-by-line resuscitation of each item.

Remember that if you spend the entire sales meeting just going through everyone’s pipeline, then the salespeople will learn that having a big pipeline is the most important thing. Do not create this thinking! Salespeople need to understand their math of success, obviously, and they need to understand that closed business is ultimately what matters. Make the sales meeting an environment where the team can learn something, improve their skills and ultimately help them close more business, then send them on their way with a new idea or way of thinking about a transaction.

If you have struggled with running effective sales meetings, or have another tip for conducting them effectively, we’d love to hear it in the comments.

Related posts on the Sales Management Blog:

Establishing Action Plans: Important for Both Solid & Under-Performers

Sales Pipeline Review Meetings: Boring, Time-Wasting and Useless