Driving home from a sales meeting recently, I was thinking back on how one person was constantly on his blackberry, dealing with emails (or maybe playing games…I don’t really know) and certainly not actively partaking in the meeting.
Should the chairperson have done or said something to him? Was he being the rudest person on the planet? Or was he sending a silent message to anyone who had the inclination to hear…”I’d rather be somewhere else….anywhere else…than sat here right now”?
We often blame others for not doing what we think they should be doing, in this case contributing and participating in the meeting. But my thoughts were actually not on how the person on the blackberry was behaving, but on why he felt it necessary to not pay any kind of attention to what was going on. He as basically shouting out silently “Don’t ask me to contribute when this is a waste of my time!”
Why do sales meetings often deteriorate into sleep-fests? Can we really expect people to contribute when there’s nothing in it for them? Here’s my take on why sales meetings are often hated:
1) Sales people don’t need to know what’s being covered
2) The meeting has no agenda that will be helpful to the salesperson’s selling role
3) The meeting is run by someone inept at running meetings
4) The meeting would test the patience of Job
5) Most of the meeting is taken up with talk about forms, papers, administration and stuff that bears no relevance to the salesperson’s next call to action
6) The meeting doesn’t have any real-world significance to their selling job
7) The meeting is as boring as Mr Bore presenting a boring speech at a meeting of the boredom committee in Bores-ville
So,how can you make sure that your weekly meetings are a time for action? Here are some ideas:
a) Spend as little time as possible on administration. If you DO have to cover it, see if there’s any information that can be sent beforehand.
b) Don’t cover boring topics. You’ll send them to sleep. Use the meeting to inspire, energise and facilitate.
c) Cover problems AND solutions. Come up with options for people to consider. Identify best ways for discussions to aim for solutions. Don’t pussyfoot around with problems that can’t be solved at the meeting.
d) Include a five/ten-minute input from one of the team on a subject that will enhance everyone’s skills. Things like ‘Top tips for negotiating’ and ‘Ideas for opening calls’. Get one of the team to present it.
e) Show a quick video or DVD on a sales-related topic. Don’t make it cheesy or patronising. Find one that they can learn a good, solid point from.
f) Share good stories about customers who have benefited from your products or services. This will take effort, but will build up a feeling of anticipation for their next call.
g) Make the peripherals important. Having quality refreshments available tells attendees that this is important and that you really care. One manager I worked for actually dipped into his own pocket to buy cream cakes for everyone. It was the topic of conversation for weeks afterwards. And we remembered the points of the meeting as well!
h) Ensure every meeting has a call to action. If it’s just a get-together to disseminate information, really consider if it’s worth everyone’s time. If they really need that information, send i to them beforehand, tell them to read it and develop questions, and then have the meeting to deal with those questions.
It isn’t that hard to have action-oriented meetings. You just need to plan and prepare for it, which is common-sense and shows how much you value the contribution of your team.
Head of Training