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A group of sales reps are heading down the hall to the conference room for a meeting with their manager. Their steps are a bit slow; they stop for a cup of coffee, peek at the Blackberry, and seem to be pondering something silently in their heads.
Wouldn't you like to know what is going on in their heads as they enter the room? Me too! So we decided to find out. We asked two groups of sales reps: "What reaction comes to mind when you hear there is going to be a sales meeting?"
Group One responses:
Uh oh. What are they going to make us do now?
Is this going to be another day we'll have to blitz because we haven't made numbers?
What did we do wrong?
What fire are we going to have to put out now?
Group Two responses:
Look forward to them. Always learn something. Starts my morning off well.
My manager always makes it interesting. We brainstorm, and I learn something new.
I hope my manager doesn't go off on a tangent. It wastes my time.
I look forward to our Wednesday morning meetings because it is a time to hear success stories, as well as some objections that each of us may hear throughout the week. As well as some tips and advice for overcoming objections and additional selling techniques.
What accounts for the different responses?
Group One's manager does not have regular meetings. The manager from Group Two does.
Which responses would you like from your sales team? Many will select Group Two. Yet Group Two isn't all good. As a sales manager, how do you get the "talk" of your team to be positive when you ask for their time?
Here are two key ways:
1. Hold regularly scheduled meetings.
With the availability of teleconference bridges, even remote teams should be brought together regularly. How often? That’s up to you! Weekly or once every other week works, though quarterly is not often enough.
The keys to making the meeting regular are to:
- Decide on the dates/schedule
- Commit to the time
- Communicate your schedule including the expectation of participation (Yes, participation, not just attendance!)
- Stick to the meeting agenda
2. Make the meetings productive.
The objective of time with your sellers should be to equip them to sell more. Any information and discussion needs to stick in their heads and in their actions.
Sales professionals report that they will make the time for a meeting if there is something in it for them -- developmentally or to help them sell more. That means including more than operation and product updates in your meeting format.
With “stickiness” as a key outcome, the STICK acronym provides a framework for planning a productive sales meeting. Using these ideas will help remove the Teflon-effect (slides right out of mind) of a boring meeting.
S - Sharpens their skills, behaviors, and/or attitudes.
Give your salespeople the opportunity to share experiences and best practices. Don't make the meeting just about information. Use the time to BUILD your team for future success. Incorporate 20-30 minutes each meeting for this proactive activity.
T - Timely.
Are the information and the discussion relevant to what is important today? Don't hold all information you have until the meeting. If you have a lot of "little" things to cover, prepare a short handout to distribute at the end of the meeting or send an email prior to the meeting. During your meeting do not READ the handout to them! Save your meeting time for the most meaningful topics and discussion.
I - Inclusive/Interactive.
Put more ask instead of tell into your meeting format. Engage and involve their expertise in topics and experiences. With involvement comes a better sense of ownership and team. Most salespeople spend a lot of time alone, and realizing that their team has similarities helps them stay connected to the company, which leads to retained sales professionals.
C - Communicative.
Sharing relevant information is important; asking your sales team for information - even more so. Plan ahead and allow your sales professionals to present information or lead discussion and activity. Let the information flow be bi-directional.
K - Kinetic.
Adults need to DO -- to take action and build information into their consciousness and habits. Help them make the information actionable. End every meeting with each salesperson committing to ONE action they will take to apply the information discussed.
With a little planning and the STICK acronym followed, your sales team will willingly participate in your meetings. They will skip down the hall on the way, bring YOU a cup of coffee, silence their BlackBerry, and have positive thoughts in their heads as they join the meeting.
More importantly, the information will stick and result in higher sales after the meeting!
About the Author:
Nancy Bleeke is a business consultant, sales expert, author and facilitator. Sales Pro Insider, Inc., the consulting firm she founded, assists companies in improving their sales, customer service and leadership skills. Companies such as Northwestern Mutual, BC Ziegler, Motorola, and Harper College for Businesses achieved 5-25% increases within 60 days of implementing her training courses.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
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