You arrive early for work. You are eager to make sales calls. But before you dial your first client of the day, someone turns to you and says “Don’t forget – we have a sales meeting in a few minutes!”
Your heart stops for a second. All of a sudden you realize that your entire morning is going to be shot to hell. All those clients you hoped to call that morning will probably be contacted by your competitors. And while you’re sitting in the meeting, drinking coffee, and trying to stay awake, your competitors are laughing all the way to the bank.
The sales meeting. It’s one of those rituals we all encounter in our careers. But do those meetings really have to be so bad? Can’t we make them more productive so that you can do what you were hired to do – get sales.
Of all the companies that I’ve ever worked for over the years, only a handful of employers offered productive and thoughtful meetings. The meetings were only 30 minutes long and would be held around 8:30 a.m. or earlier. You had a clear idea of what the meetings were about. Everyone respected each other’s time. Most salespeople got to the point. Why? Because they wanted to quickly return to their desks to make money.
However, those companies were the exception rather than the rule. Most meetings that I have attended have little or no agendas, turn into bitch sessions with salespeople complaining about another department, or about each other. While some people may look at sales meetings as a welcome break from doing sales, I usually look at them as an interruption to my selling process.
I’ve attended some meetings that ran so long I almost wanted to slit my wrists. I’ve heard stories over the years how some sales managers would come up with creative ways of reducing the length of meetings. For example, there would be no chairs in the meeting room. Everyone was forced to stand. Coffee or smartphones were not allowed. They would adhere to a very strict agenda. While not related to sales, I heard of a restaurant manager who had a creative way of reducing his weekly meetings with his staff. He would hold the meetings in the walk-in freezer. The meetings didn’t last very long.
While attending a quarterly meeting of my local food co-op, the board actually hired a meeting coordinator who acted as a referee. If someone got off-topic or got into a shouting match (which happens often), she would step in, enforce the meeting rules and the agenda, and move the meeting along.
In the next few posts, I will provide videos from YouTube on how to conduct sales meetings. I will then provide you with my own tips and advice.