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Sales Managers: Are you "staging" your sales meetings?

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in The 60-Second Sales Seminar

Bad sales meetings are sources of dread for everyone involved. Most every sales professional has been there when he fought to stay awake, or silently fumed about what else he could be doing. Business owners and managers can readily identify sound reasons for having sales meetings, but they also admit that the meetings sometime fall apart, or they seldom seem to provide significant value. This occurs because the format of many sales meetings includes reviewing each individual’s activities and prospects, or they become “gripe and grumble” sessions.

As the sales manager, the sales meeting is your responsibility. I like to think of the sales meeting as being staged - it is your opportunity to prepare and orchestrate an event to strengthen your sales team. You need to get a sense of how often your team needs to meet: weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc. Don't burden yourself with the notion that you need to meet more frequently than necessary. However, when you schedule a meeting it is critical to do everything in your power to hold it, attend it, and conduct it effectively. I believe there are only two different formats that are needed to stage powerful sales meetings.

Information Exchange Meetings focus on communicating, advising, and/or training. Typically one person gives information to the group, and this is followed by “Q & A.” Rarely should this person be you. Unfortunately, many managers have a “Herculean” complex, and feel they must know it all and do it all, and are compelled to present themselves as the experts. The Information Exchange meeting format allows you to consistently delegate the presentation and expertise to someone on your team. For example, you can assign everyone on your sales team a different competitor, and each individual must become the expert on that competitor. A single competitor would be the subject of a sales meeting and the person assigned this competitor would give a presentation. Each team member could then take their turn to do a presentation on their assigned competitor at the following meetings. Another approach with this strategy would be to assign different features of your product and service offerings to team members. Or, you could assign a single step of your sales cycle to each person for presenting best practices and approaches within this step. While this strategy with the information exchange format is empowering to the members of your team, you are also creating another “go to” person, besides yourself, for other team members to have as a resource.

Decision Making Meetings are held to resolve issues, create solutions, or make decisions, and should feature full group involvement. Your role is to facilitate the group's cooperation and decisiveness. In this type of meeting, everyone should know ahead of time how decisions will be made. For most sales teams, consensus is most effective. Some people confuse unanimity for consensus - they are not the same. With "consensual" decision making the rule is "I can live with it."

While some meetings could be a hybrid of these two formats, it’s important that you develop a consistent agenda format, frequency and time duration. For most sales teams, I believe weekly meetings at the same time each week, lasting for 60-90 minutes, is ideal. This routine will make for efficiency. As the manager, focus on being the meeting's facilitator and director, not a participant. As the director of the meeting, remember that your own appearance, attitude & energy affect how you function and how you are perceived as a manager and leader.

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