How to hold productive sales meetings

Designing a powerful sales meeting is not an easy task, but it’s one of the most important aspects of building and maintaining a high-velocity sales organisation. 

The objective of all sales meetings should be to increase sales—period. That’s why we call them sales meetings. Entertaining the participants and having them leave full of enthusiasm is a good thing, but it should never overshadow the need to produce sales.    

Every high-performing salesperson who attends a meeting will be thinking, “Is this meeting making me money, or is my time being wasted?” 

A company’s high performers will usually produce at least 60 per cent of the company’s revenues, so when sales managers waste top salespeople’s time with poorly designed meetings, they send several negative messages: (1) that management isn’t considerate of employees’ time (high performers know that time is money), and (2) that management doesn’t understand the business, doesn’t know what needs to be done to increase sales, and is wasting corporate resources.    

If the sales team begins to suspect that management doesn’t know how to increase sales, morale will be negatively affected and team members will question their choice of employers.  

Additionally, salespeople are conscious of the way management spends its money, so seeing waste during ineffective meetings degrades their confidence in the company and makes them less considerate of protecting the corporate resources under their control.    

Unproductive meetings also signal to salespeople that management is not committed to excellence—and powerful sales people don’t want to work for companies like that. They want to make money, they want to focus their attention on that goal, and they want to work for managers who are committed to being the best.    

With so much at stake in a sales meeting, how can we ensure that the meeting will bring value to the sales team and produce sales? 

The answer is simple, but the implementation is not: Managers need to develop a statement of strategic intent for the meeting, along with defined, time-sensitive metrics that will be used to measure the meeting’s success. 

For example, we might say that the strategic intent of our meeting is to train reps to sell X product, with the goal of 80 per cent of them exceeding quota within thirty days of the meeting and maintaining that performance through the end of the year.    

The challenge in developing a statement of strategic intent is in knowing what needs to be accomplished in the meeting to reach the required performance goal. The specifics must be laid out, and an aggressive but realistic performance goal must be defined. Carrying out this process takes a deep understanding of the business, the sales force, and the competition.    

Because managers who can’t write these strategic statements and goals generally don’t understand the business, this process can also be used by executive management to evaluate the effectiveness of managers charged with designing the meetings. 

In other words, this statement of strategic intent is useful for ensuring powerful results meetings and as a management evaluation tool.

Powerful sales meetings driven by statements of strategic intent and clear objectives are at the core of powerful companies. Management teams that hold them regularly will always stay on top.

John Treace is a sales management & business turnaround specialist and the founder of JR Treace & Associates. He’s the author of new book, Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organisation.

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