“Had the sales meeting, great ideas, then . . . maybe not so much in terms of real measurable results. Accountability is important. Think our sales meetings may be too big picture. Having a discussion about where we’re going is valid, but our immediate need is to answer the question: “Where’s the fruit?””

Thoughts of the Day: Increase the productivity of your sales meetings by using them for what meetings are best at: sharing information with a group of people. Develop an agenda that includes brief updates from everyone on what’s going on. Focus on ways to improve individual sales skills. Get outside experts to come in and present, with interactive exercises. Keep in mind that sales people in general are used to action.

In your sales meetings, stop talking at people and instead use the time to get everyone to participate.

You can do that by requiring attendees to come prepared to share information and insights. You can put on interactive training sessions. You can ask people to role play situations they’ve recently experienced. Make it clear that one of the main purposes of the meeting is skill development, and that skill development comes from active participation in the exercises and learning opportunities that are presented to the group.

Ask sales people to share war stories – successes and failures. Use the stories as learning opportunities for everyone in the room. Make sure that you rotate among participants, getting every sales person to present. Don’t let anyone hide or dominate.

Use role play to get hands on experience in a safe setting.

Ask meeting participants to script out and then act out both good and bad sales calls. As they present their role plays, ask the rest of the group to make suggestions on things to do that could lead to better outcomes in similar situations. Encourage group discussion and wrap up with a set of conclusions. Write out those conclusions and share the write up with the group after the meeting.

At the end of each meeting, ask each person to write down 1 take away and to then describe how they will take action to build on that take away. Next week’s meeting, ask people to talk about how things worked out with their individual takeaways. Make it clear you expect full participation, in meaningful soundbites that are limited to a minute or two in length.

Trainers can be especially valuable. Look for people who come highly referred as successful sales trainers. Bring them in to interact with the group, on a specific topic. Watch how things go. Consider bringing them back for more sessions if the sales people are highly engaged and able to produce results based on what they learned.

Sales people are used to being up and moving.

For some people it’s a physical need, for others it’s a habit that’s been built over time. Successful sales people are good at connecting with others, and do it almost instinctively. For some it’s a drive that has to be satisfied for them to feel successful. Keep in mind they’re also driven to compete. Give them opportunity to connect with each other in sales meetings.

Take a balanced approach to competition by having multiple ways to recognize success, honoring several different people for things well done. Wrap up meetings with specific goals that individuals set to implement within the upcoming weeks or months. Track and report on results. Make it clear that the group is responsible for everyone’s success, that the company wins or loses as a whole.

Looking for a good book?

Try “Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings that are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results“, by Leigh Espy.

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