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Sales Meetings – Friend or Foe?

Unfortunately, there is a common sentiment that sales meetings are things to avoid unless absolutely necessary. This is undoubtedly the result of many less than satisfactory experiences in producing (yes, producing) expensive and poorly executed events that do not accomplish desired objectives. Yet a sales meeting can be the most efficient tactic to assess, develop and motivate one of the most expensive functions of a company – the sales force.

Turnover in a sales force is always present. In fact, US statistics suggest that sales personnel turnover at a rate of 50% annually. Even if this were not the case, newer members of the sales team need to match their skills against the standards of the existing sales force, and existing members need an opportunity to refresh and grow their skills. These objectives are most successfully accomplished in a supportive team environment at a sales meeting. Hands down, the best opportunity to effectively develop the skills, knowledge and process of a sales team happens when the team meets.

There are a multitude of elements which can be designed into the sales meeting agenda. To be effective, all agenda items require buy-in from individual reps, and from the team as a whole. One well known example of this not working is when an organization tries to implement a new sales tool, like a CRM tool, and quickly defines the definition of GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) because there was no common buy-in to the terminology and process.

There is a generally accepted hierarchy of sales motivation:

1. Helping a customer

2. Offering recognition for a job well done

3. Highlighting a competitive compensation package

4. Solidifying confidence in leadership

5. Having fun

One of the strongest reasons for holding regular sales meetings is that you can reinforce all five motivators! Helping customers can be easily communicated by asking one or two of your recent successes to participate in some way during the meeting. There should be an element of recognition at every sales meeting, where the reps and team’s accomplishments are publicly recognized. A discussion about compensation can be positive but offers a double edged sword… sharing the new and improved compensation plan is good; allowing the meeting to be dominated by a “beef session” about the plan’s faults produces a negative overall experience. Nothing can build confidence in an organization’s leadership team better than a little “pressing of the flesh”, where executives participate both formally and informally in the meeting events. And don’t forget to have fun. Stir some excitement and allow your sales team to remember why they chose this profession in the first place.

Brian Pleet