By John Chapin
Many people are familiar with the expression “80% of life is common sense but only 20% of people are using it.” In my experience, a similar rule applies to sales meetings: 80% are a complete waste of time because simple common sense was never applied. Follow these rules for effective sales meetings and you will no longer find yourself in the 80%.
Rule #1: Keep meetings short, positive, and energized.
Most of the sales meetings I’ve been to are too long and when people leave them they are tired and deflated. In fact, recently I ran into a company having sales meetings on Friday afternoons because they felt it was a good way to wind down at the end of a long week. Ouch! Sales meetings should last for 60 to 90 minutes max and leave people upbeat and ready to tackle the week. Here are some more important components of this rule:
- The meeting starts and stops on time. No waiting for people who are late and punishing those there on time.
- Have an agenda and stick to it. People have 30 seconds, five minutes, or whatever time is appropriate, and at the end of that time, they are done, whether they are or not.
- It’s fine to start by reviewing the numbers and congratulating people for important wins, but this should last no more than a few minutes. No getting bogged down in details aided by boring PowerPoint slides.
- Everyone stays positive and upbeat. While constructive conversation about problems and issues is fine and encouraged, you must focus on solutions. If the room turns “all negative with no solutions,” it’s time to put the brakes on and get the focus back on what you can do about the situation.
- No rambling or getting stuck in the weeds with minutia of detail on items that are best handled offline after the meeting.
- No one highjacking the meeting and taking more than their allotted time.
- No random vendors—not exclusive to the company—talking about the flavor of the week.
- No heads from other departments droning on about their problems and what they need from sales.
Also keep in mind that in order for the meetings to be positive, everyone must be present for each meeting (barring some extenuating circumstance). You must have a team mentality and no individual is an exception.
Rule #2: The most important part of the meeting is education.
Focus on the areas that have the most impact: prospecting, presenting, closing, and building relationships with the biggest and most important accounts. Here are some areas to cover:
- Brainstorming strategy to win an account.
- How to beat the competition.
- How to ask for referrals.
- How to cold call or prospect effectively.
- How to close more deals.
The objective here is to get the best stuff from the best people. Some people are great at referrals, others are great at cold calling, and others are great at closing. Also, it’s important that the successful people are talking. While we want to be respectful and inclusive, we don’t need to hear tips from someone who’s made one sale in the past nine months.
Rule #3: Open and close the meeting the right way.
Meetings should be held early on Monday morning to start the week off right. This best ensures everyone is in early and focused at the beginning of the week.
Start meetings with something short and positive—a positive quote or passage from a book is good. It’s also good to have a weekly focus point, and to highlight something positive that may have happened recently. Next, cover the agenda in 15 seconds or less then bridge into the main part of the meeting.
An effective way to close the meeting is to give everyone one or two action items that they can act on immediately. Here are some good examples:
- Go call on that account you’ve been afraid to call on.
- Do something you haven’t done before or challenge yourself to break your previous best. For example, if the most prospecting calls you’re ever made in a week is 50, shoot for 75 or 100.
- Identify and do the one thing that once done, will ensure the whole week has been a success.
The key to effectively closing the meeting is to harness the energy created to take immediate action and get the momentum rolling toward a successful week. This will also help you develop the habits of stepping out of your comfort zone, facing your fears, and pushing yourself to become better.
John Chapin is a sales and motivational speaker and trainer and author of the 2010 sales book of the year, “Sales Encyclopedia.” For his free newsletter, go to: www.completeselling.com . Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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