Build a Better Sales Meeting

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

It is sales management’s responsibility to be a good shepherd of corporate resources, so spending money without expecting a measurable return is not good business. 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 percent of the company’s revenues, so when sales managers waste top salespeople’s time with poorly designed meetings, they send the following negative messages: (1) that management is not considerate of employees’ time (high performers know that time is money) and (2) that management does not understand the business, does not 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 employer. Additionally, salespeople are conscious of the way management spends money, so seeing waste during 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 salespeople 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.

How to Improve Value
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 product X, with the goal of 80 percent of them exceeding quota within 30 days of the meeting and maintaining that performance through the end of the year.

The challenge in developing a statement of strategic intent is 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 do not 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 both for ensuring that powerful results come from 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.