Are Your Boring Sales Meetings Driving Growth and Change?
How effective are your sales managers at running a good sales meeting? How engaged are your top performing sales people? How much is this costing you in terms of lost productivity, lower morale, and higher turnover on your sales team?
Here’s a quick test you can do by sitting in their next sales meeting. Put aside the fact that your being there may change everyone’s behavior.
Just ask one of your sales managers if it would be alright to sit in for a few meetings just as an observer.
Here’s what I want you to observe: count the ratio between statements your sales manager makes and questions your sales manager asks.
You might be surprised by the results!
Too often the sales meetings we observe tend to focus on unimportant administrative tasks and boring progress status reviews. Too often we hear statements, proclamations, and updates instead of questions, discussions and collaboration. That's why most your top producing sales people dread going to sales meetings and will find just about any excuse to be somewhere else.
What would happen if all of the administrative updates happened offline before the weekly sales meeting? What would happen if every week your sales managers spent no more than 15-20 minutes on updates and then focused the balance of the hour on a particular sales challenge or market opportunity? Would your sales people make incremental progress if every week they spent 40-45 minutes collaborating with their teammates in engaging discussions facilitated by your sales managers?
Here are six (6) potential topics to consider:
- Prospecting Focus - ask your sales managers to go beyond a quick review of the top 20 prospects each sales person is targeting. Instead they should facilitate a conversation about why they picked those prospects, how they're approaching them, what they say when they get them on the phone, which questions and examples create the most urgency to schedule a meeting, what activity levels are driving success across the team, and so on. Everyone on the team should walk out with clear next steps and expectations to meet and report on at the next sales meeting.
- Overcoming Objections - have your sales managers facilitate a brainstorming session to identify the most common objections (price is always number one) the sales team encounters. Rarely will the list go beyond 12-15 total objections. Work through the top two to three (2-3) objections as a group and then assign the rest and have each sales person outline strategies to overcome/address/handle/neutralize the objection assigned to them and present it at the next sales meeting.
- Voice of the Customer Exercise - have your sales manager work with each team member to select a current client and conduct a brief interview to understand
a) what the customer likes best about working with your company (descriptive and results focused),
b) what they would change if they could change one thing about your company (opportunities for improvement), and
c) where they would focus their time and efforts or who they would call if they were the sales person (prospecting and referral opportunity).
Each sales person should share their findings with the team and your sales manager should facilitate a discussion around what this feedback means and how to use it on upcoming sales calls.
- Question Funnel Exercise - what are the six to eight (6-8) most common problems or challenges your customers and prospective customers face? Ask your sales manager to facilitate a discussion and brainstorming session to document ALL of the questions a sales person could ask to uncover these common problems and challenges. What questions and discussions will expose these issues? What are the different question sets that will help a prospective customer "discover" the impact these challenges are having on their business.
- Market Trends - what changes are happening in the markets you serve that could impact your prospective client's ability or urgency to buy your product or service? Is the competitive landscape changing? Is there a new technology or business model that could disrupt your business? Are there regulatory pressures? Are there capital challenges or financing requirements that could delay a project start up? What are your sales people hearing in the market that everyone should know about? Can your sales manager facilitate a discussion that helps everyone on the team drive that discussion on sales calls rather than react to it cold?
- Win/Loss Analysis - have your sales manager select a recent deal (either a win or a loss) and go deep into what happened. What went really well that should be repeated whenever possible? What didn't go so well that should be avoided in future opportunities? How repeatable and avoidable are these factors? What are the specific activities, behaviors, and deal components that a sales person can control and drive in future deals? Are your sales managers strong enough to go beyond the celebratory "high five" for wins or the surface-level "post mortem" for losses? What lessons should every sales person on the team learn from each big win or loss?
If your sales meetings have become a boring exchange of updates and progress reports, why not have your sales managers jump start them with any of these topics, or whatever issue is most pressing at your company? If they run out of ideas, simply have them ask everyone on their sales team to write down their top three _______ (sales challenges, sales successes, obstacles, growth opportunities, process improvement ideas, referral strategies, closing questions, and on and on) and then faciliate a discussion about that.
Need help getting started?
Contact me and ask about how we can help increase the focus for a series of sales meetings.
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