Holding Regular Sales Meetings

Finding the right inspiration to write an article, book, essay, or even a short blog can be quite a challenge.  Luckily, the subject of this article came to me through a firm lecture from my wife after my third impromptu meeting of the day with my recruiting team discussing new sales avenues and changes to our pricing strategy.  I gave her every excuse as to why I kept holding these meetings like, getting them to buy-In, pumping them up, creating buzz in the office, and a lot of other crap she didn’t want to hear.   The reality was I confused them, took them away from activities that generated revenue, and made them question if as their leader is was confident in the direction I am steering the company.  The total opposite of what I really hoped to accomplish. 

If you can relate to my slip in leadership you are not alone.  I have countless friends in the flooring industry that believe these impromptu meetings with their sales team actually produce great results when what it really produces is frustration and aggravation.  Taking the time to properly frame your message and provide the right venue for communication can be a bit of a task.  However, the investment in doing this is much more likely to produce the results you desire and build a team that is eager to learn from you.  If this article leaves you needing more to understand how to hold productive meetings I highly suggest you pick up a copy of “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni. 

Sales meetings should be a nice mix of informational, instructional, and interactive.  Additionally, they should be ever changing.  Asking folks to get fired up for the sales meeting when the same thing different day approach is used is impossible.  Going over open quotes, customer issues, new products, upcoming advertising, and discussing the sales numbers of each sales associate is beyond boring after the second time you sit in one of those meetings.   Meeting content should be switched up, must include participation, and should end with at least one actionable item. 

I came across a great article published at www.entrepreneur.com that provided some hints to holding productive meetings

  1. Start with an energizer. Begin your meetings on time and start with some fun. Reward those who are punctual to help eliminate the lateness factor.
  2. Keep it simply simple (K.I.S.S.). Always ask, "Does this item need to be in the meeting or could it be done outside the meeting or as pre-work?" Keep it simple with four steps: Make sure the pace of the meeting is fast, create the right atmosphere by ensuring it is fun, add value by helping the team better execute on a key sales skill that will help them close business and have shared ownership, meaning you have the members share content on a regular basis.
  3. Have three rules for individual updates. When discussing personal updates make sure the topics are small and the answers timed, so they don't take over the meeting or sap the team's energy. I suggest using a “parking lot” where you write down topics that come up during your sidetracks that need to be addressed at a future meeting or offline. 
  4. Motivate and reward. You must build motivation into every team meeting. The sales team has a tough challenge and needs to feel supported and recognized. This isn't about big gifts or exceptional moments -- the simplest "thank you" can have great meaning. Think about sorting the rewards into different categories. You can make them fun, competitive, team-based, recognition-based or even externally focused, such as getting input or recognizing someone outside of the sales team.
  5. Capability activity. Every sales meeting must stretch and challenge team members' skills to keep them at the top of their game. Capability activities can focus on prospecting, networking, lead generation, client meetings, presenting solutions or closing. The capability activity is all about ongoing skill development and is the key to creating value at the meeting.
  6. Standard agenda. Create the framework once, so building the content of each meeting will be quite simple.  Include the standard performance metrics, marketing strategies, and customer service items.  Then throw in some motivational practice such as them providing a report on books you had them read to improve skills and or customer service, have some detailed selling skills role play exercises, and end with each identifying one thing they or the company can do that will foster continual improvement

According to a survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013 independent flooring stores that regularly hold sales meetings experience:

  • An increase in sales per sales associate of just over $43,500
  • An increase in overall efficiency per employee just under $17,000
  • 8% greater sales volume; $3.8 million versus $2.3 million
  • Owner that earn $22,587 more in annual income

Now imagine the real potential if all of these stores were conducting meetings using the framework presented above.  The juice you produce from being organized and structured instead of conducting impromptu and repetitive meeting is definitely worth the squeeze.  And if your spouse is as organized as mine and works in the business this strategy is sure to reduce the number of those awesome “constructive criticism” moments.