How to Deliver a Crazy-Productive Sales Team Meeting (That Your Reps Won’t Hate)
Sales meetings are necessary, but sometimes they can feel like a necessary evil. Deep down you know regular meetings are important, but it can feel challenging to fit them into your and your sales team’s busy schedules.
Join Anita Greenland and Rich Williams from The Brooks Group, as they reveal the tips and strategies to make your sales meetings ridiculously productive—so you can get the biggest bang for your buck AND actually get your salespeople on board, too.
In 19 hyper-focused minutes, we’ll cover:
- How to sell the sales meeting to your team so they don’t dread it each week
- A highly-efficient meeting protocol to cover what’s important and skip what isn’t
- Ways to incorporate skill-building into each meeting you hold
- Why you should consider inviting employees outside of the sales team to join
Read the Full Transcript of the Briefinar Below:
Rich Williams: Hello everyone, and welcome to Briefinars for Sales Leaders. We promise to be brief, bright, and bring it all to you in 19 minutes. Remember that we'll be sending out a recording of the presentation after we're done, so you'll have access to it.
Rich Williams: Today, we're going to cover How to Deliver a Crazy-Productive Sales Team Meeting (That Your Reps Won't Hate). They may even enjoy it. Imagine that. I'm Rich Williams, the Director of Knowledge Management at The Brooks Group, and I'm joined today by Anita Greenland, who is the Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Welcome, Anita.
Anita Greenland: Thanks, Rich. I am really glad to be here. I am super passionate about this topic.
Rich Williams: Yes you are, Anita. In fact, this is a perfect topic for you, because you lead our sales team here at The Brooks Group, and you run sales meetings every Monday.
Anita Greenland: Yes I do, and I have two mottoes when it comes to meetings: No meaningless meetings, and no boring meetings.
Rich Williams: Okay, great. Let's talk a little bit more about that.
Rich Williams: Does this picture look familiar to any of you? If your salespeople look at you this way during your sales meetings, we're here to tell you it doesn't have to be this way. Your sales meetings do not have to suck. Anita, I've actually dropped into a couple of your sales meetings and they don't suck, so tell me why that is.
Anita Greenland: Well, thank you Rich. I definitely try not to have them suck. When I first stepped into this role about a year ago, the sales team was used to having group meetings about once a month, and I let them know in our first sales meeting that we were going to be having sales meetings once a week. And the look that I got from the sales team, let's just say I wasn't feeling very welcomed in my role.
Anita Greenland: But nevertheless, I think that they have turned the corner and have come to appreciate the productiveness of our sales meetings. What we're going to share with you guys today are seven tips for productive and successful sales meetings. I'm going to give you a high level overview of what those tips are, and then we'll dive deeper into each one of them.
Anita Greenland: The first tip is sell the meeting to your team. Secondly, you want to respect your team's time. Maintain a group focus. Be optimistic and forward-looking. Have reps come prepared. Allow and ask for input, very important, and lastly, integrate other departments.
Rich Williams: These are some great tips. Let's talk about each of these in a little bit more detail, one at a time, starting with tip number one: Sell the meeting to your team. Anita, what do you mean by that?
Anita Greenland: Well, salespeople are busy and sales managers are busy, so you have to communicate the value to the meeting. That really sucks them in.
Rich Williams: Yeah. In fact, I read some research from the EcSell Institute that said that only 20% of sales reps feel that information from team meetings is as beneficial as it could be. What that really means is that there are 80% of the sellers out there that don't feel that sales meetings are beneficial to them. Anita, how do you go about creating value for meetings?
Anita Greenland: Well, how you reach that 80% that doesn't feel that it's of any value is that you want to always include some kind of a product or skills training in your sales meetings, ideally something that's going to make their life easier, going to help them sell more, going to help them have better client relationships, some things like LinkedIn selling tutorials, presentation skills training, brainstorming skills or brainstorming prospecting techniques. Those are just some examples.
Anita Greenland: The key really to an effective sales team meeting is to balance discussion around the numbers with development opportunities, because if you make it all about the numbers and metrics, you're going to lose momentum fast. That is boring.
Rich Williams: Yes it is. Doesn't take long.
Rich Williams: All right, tip number two is to respect your team's time.
Anita Greenland: Yeah, the most productive meetings are well-organized, and they cut right to the heart of what matters most. Best way to communicate that or the best way to do that is to use a consistent agenda for every meeting.
Rich Williams: Okay, a consistent agenda. Tell me what you mean by that.
Anita Greenland: Well, there should be a standard flow to your meetings, a flow that the reps actually come to expect and it's somewhat predictably. This consistent approach is going to help to keep the meeting on track. A tip here, this is a little bonus tip, a extra tip, is don't wait until 30 minutes before your sales meeting to plan your agenda.
Anita Greenland: As you're going throughout your week and you think of things that relate to each of the agenda items or the topics, then insert those into a template, and we'll share one with you here in a minute, and fill it in throughout the week so that you make sure to capture everything that's important.
Anita Greenland: One of the most important aspects of respecting your team's time, and I cannot say this enough, is you want to always, always begin the meeting on time and end the meeting on time. And try to keep it at about an hour or less. Let me just elaborate here a little bit.
Anita Greenland: If you wait until everybody's sitting around the table to begin the sales meeting, then you're training your sales reps to come to the meeting late, knowing that you're not going to begin until they're there, so if you start the meeting on time, even if you only have half the team there, the embarrassment and the awkwardness that those that arrive late feel will hopefully keep them from continuing to be late in future meetings-
Rich Williams: Yeah.
Anita Greenland: ... so always beginning on time. And then the important aspect about ending on time is nobody, and I even suggest a few minutes early, because nobody minds getting a few minutes back in their day, but you go over by one minute, and you've got mutiny on your hands from the sales team. It almost undoes all of the good stuff that came out of the meeting when you go just one minute over. I can't say it enough. Begin and end your meetings on time.
Rich Williams: All right. That sounds like great advice. My experience has been that an organized agenda keeps a team on track, and it keeps them engaged, and it helps you avoid the inevitable tangents and distractions that always seem to come up to derail what might otherwise be a productive meeting.
Anita Greenland: Yeah. You are exactly right.
Anita Greenland: We've got an example of an agenda here up on the screen, and you'll notice that every agenda item has an allotted amount of time to spend on it. Let's just take a look at some of the items that are on the agenda. Of course, the introduction, and you notice we only allocate about five minutes to introductions. Sometimes I like to do something fun and grab their attention, but there's a variety of different things that you can do in those introductions.
Anita Greenland: You'll also notice that the metrics review is only five minutes to the meeting, because this isn't all about the numbers, and we hit on that earlier, because that makes for a really boring meeting. And then each team member should be responsible for some sort of quarterly initiative, and so the sales meeting is a great and quick place to touch base and make sure that everybody's on track.
Anita Greenland: Just going around and everybody has an initiative that they're responsible for, perhaps for the quarter. That's what we do here at The Brooks Group. Everybody has a specific initiative that they are responsible for accomplishing. We go around the room, and everybody indicates if they're on track or if they're off track, and if they're off track, then we move that to the side to either address as a group if it's appropriate or to address in a one-on-one meeting, but that helps to ensure that everybody completes their initiatives for the quarter.
Anita Greenland: Now, you'll notice one of the biggest time allotments is the training component, because as I said earlier, the more than you can help them to improve their skills, and that's going to make their life easier or their job easier and help them to be more effective, then it's more meaningful. It's a more meaningful meeting, and so we try to allocate about 15 minutes for a training component, at least.
Anita Greenland: Housekeeping, five minutes. The other big part of the meeting is the win/loss sharing. Salespeople, of course, learn lessons from their wins, and wins feel great and losses don't feel great. At the same time, there are as many if not more lessons to be learned by sharing the losses and analyzing why you lost, and talking about it so that everybody around the table can learn from that loss so that it doesn't happen again. Very, very important and underutilized part of many sales meetings.
Anita Greenland: Something new that we actually are going to be incorporating into 2019 in our meetings is competitor news. Each rep is going to be assigned a competitor that they are going to monitor throughout the year, and once a month, they'll be responsible for doing a big presentation on that competitor, but once a week, we'll go around the table and ask if anybody has any updates associated with that competitor, by following them through social media and such. It's a great way to keep on top of what your competition is doing.
Anita Greenland: And then lastly, you've got your closing. This is what we use here at The Brooks Group, and it tends to be very, very effective.
Rich Williams: Yeah, this is a great guide. Everybody should have a copy of this. In fact, we're going to be sending out this guide as well as an editable meeting template, so everyone keep an eye out for that in your inbox.
Rich Williams: Tip number three: Maintain a group focus.
Anita Greenland: Yeah. Some sales managers, they make the mistake of addressing issues that only impact a small segment of the team, so what ends up happening is you alienate the rest of the team. They become disengaged, and they just feel like that meeting was a waste of time for them.
Anita Greenland: The most productive and successful sales meetings are focused on things that matter to the group at large, and so you want to save matters that don't affect your entire team more to an offline meeting that maybe only impacts those couple three people, or if it's just one person, obviously the one-on-one meeting with that person.
Rich Williams: Sure, and that is the purpose of the one-on-one meeting.
Anita Greenland: That's right, which is just as important as the group sales meeting.
Rich Williams: Definitely. All right, tip number four: Be optimistic and forward-looking.
Anita Greenland: Yeah. Sometimes things aren't going so well. Let's face it. It's tempting, as a leader, to want to crack the whip and maybe even beat your team up a little bit, not that I've ever done anything like that, but you know what? It's hard for anyone to take criticism, and salespeople are no exception to that.
Anita Greenland: When sales are slow or things aren't going right, use that as an opportunity in your team meetings to build morale, not knock it down. A couple of things that you can do is obviously highlight the things that are going well, and carve out time to address the areas that could use improvement.
Anita Greenland: Maybe use that as an opportunity to conduct that post-mortem analysis we just referred to, or one of my favorite things to do is maybe you do a little role-playing or ... Let me change that: "Practice," because salespeople don't like to role-play, but rephrase it as a practice, and that's a great way to maybe work out some kinks, work through some issues, solve some problems maybe that you're seeing coming up that's holding your team back.
Anita Greenland: What I also like to do sometimes is to find maybe a very short, but inspirational or motivational video, or find a quote or an image, something that might resonate with the theme or the message that I'm wanting to communicate that week, and it just also changes it up so it's not just me talking the whole time.
Rich Williams: Yeah, positivity, very important. And I will tell you that, for myself, I'd much rather practice than role-play.
Anita Greenland: Yes.
Rich Williams: All right, tip number five: Have reps come prepared.
Anita Greenland: Everyone is much more engaged when they know what's going to be discussed. If you communicate your agenda, or at least give them a high level overview of what's going to be discussed, they can come to the meeting prepared to discuss it. Whenever possible, send that agenda, the agenda items to them in advance, and what I really like to do is to assign different items to different team members in advance, because that helps them to participate more in the meeting.
Rich Williams: Sure. For instance, from my observations, having your top performers present some of their best practices, say for prospecting, would be really helpful. Or also you mentioned something else that's really helpful or could be really helpful, and that's assigning each rep a competitor, having them share any updates they found when the team's together. As a matter of fact, that is one of the items that's on the agenda that we're sending out.
Anita Greenland: That's right, because that's something new that we're going to be doing in the coming year, which I'm very excited to see what the results are going to be for that. But you know what, this strategy does, it really serves double duty. First of all, it is going to help your meetings to run more efficiently, because everybody will know what to expect.
Anita Greenland: Secondly is we support what we help create, and especially salespeople, so they are going to be much more engaged when they are contributing to the content and their peers are contributing to the content. Just sitting around listening to their manager lecture on and on and on, it becomes like the Charlie Brown adult in the background, "Wah wah wah."
Rich Williams: "Wah wah wah."
Anita Greenland: Exactly. It gets really boring fast.
Rich Williams: Yes it does. All right, tip number six: Allow and ask for input.
Anita Greenland: It's very important that your salespeople feel heard. Everybody, it's important for everybody to feel heard, and when people have the chance to voice their concerns, they feel like their opinion matters and that's going to help them to be more motivated and engaged.
Anita Greenland: Always try to spend a few minutes at each meeting asking salespeople for their input, maybe where they're experiencing challenges or where they're experiencing success. Maybe it's questions around, "What stage in the sales process is presenting you the most challenges? What kind of pushback are you currently receiving from prospects and customers? What tools would make your life easier or more productive?" Input from the team can really clue you in to the areas that you need to target for training and coaching as well.
Rich Williams: Sure, sure. All right, tip number seven: Integrate other departments.
Anita Greenland: This is really one of my favorite tips. I think it's one of the most valuable ones. It really provides an opportunity to strengthen alignment with the sales team and other key departments that they interact with. For example, marketing or customer service. Something that we do here at The Brooks Group that I think has been very, very valuable to the growth of our organization is the alignment that we've created between the marketing and the sales team, and that happens largely in our group meetings.
Anita Greenland: Our marketing director as well as our head of learning services, who's part of our customer service, they both attend every single sales meeting. And every other week, we have what we call a smarketing meeting, so one week is a sales meeting, then the next week, it's a smarketing meeting. That way, the whole marketing team is there, and it's a great way to share ideas and to get that alignment going.
Anita Greenland: I would attribute ... We've had a fantastic year this year at The Brooks Group, and if I had to point my finger at any one thing that has been the most effective, it has been the alignment between the sales team and the marketing team.
Rich Williams: I agree and I've noticed that. And I really think that the way that you've been able to integrate the other departments has really created a unique alignment between the two departments, and that's very vital to our success.
Anita Greenland: Yes. And so a bonus tip here, tip number eight, the unofficial tip is watching webinars like this can certainly help you to get ideas to have meaningful sales meetings, and I think that template is going to help you, the deliverable from this webinar. But some other ideas to help you be one of the greatest sales managers in company history in addition to webinars like this are ...
Rich Williams: Yeah, you know what will really help you make you one of the best sales managers in your company's history would be to attend one of our sales management symposium programs. Our programs teach attendees to hire and keep top performers, master the art of coaching, improve sales forecasting and a lot more. You can learn more about the sales management symposium and secure your seat by going to thebrooksgroup.com.
Anita Greenland: And that's going to conclude our briefinar for today. We really appreciate you joining us, and hopefully you got some good takeaways. You will be receiving a recording of the briefinar as well as that agenda and agenda template that we promised, so thanks again. We'll see you next time.
Rich Williams: Thanks everybody.