From today’s mailbag: “How can I spice up my team’s sales meetings? They seem boring and redundant with the same flow and information and action items covered over and over. Any advice?”
Carson: Each and every sales meeting, like a sales call, like a salesperson, like any meeting at all, needs a unique, fresh approach. The reason people tune out at sales meetings is the same reason your cold call recipient treats you like a telemarketer – because it’s just like everything else they’ve ever experienced. There’s nothing compelling and original to grab their interest. There’s not enough recognition or honesty or respect or buy-in.
(1) Grab their attention. How many times have you conducted or been to a meeting that literally just starts out with the same, boring reading of a piece of paper or “how’s it going?” type of question posed to the team, followed by venting? Reading off talking points and making awkward introductions that nobody cares about is not going to energize your team. Lead off with a joke! Lead off with recognition! Lead off with passionate dialogue about things they care about! Lead off with good news! Each time out, you want a totally different attention-grabber, but use methods that will make them perk up.
(2) Stick to your program! Control the venting. Far too many team meetings get out of hand because a manager will allow the team to control the meeting. You can even say, “We’re going to talk briefly about XYZ. I want to get organized, quick feedback about these items. If you have some additional feedback, we can discuss offline, one-on-one.” It is up to you to control the tempo and have a solution for every problem presented. Managing a team is always about earning and maintaining respect, making the tough decisions and leading in the best interests of the team as a whole. Just like a sales call, ensure that no objection, no matter how small, goes unaddressed. If a concern or question comes up that you don’t have the answer to, “With things changing, I want to get you the most up to date answer. I’ll commit to finding that out today.” And do it. Your team relies on you for support. You don’t have to know everything and you don’t have to be better at their job than they are. You have to deliver answers, support and remove obstacles to their success.
(3) Even if you’ve already made up your mind or are leaning in a direction on a decision that impacts them, get their feedback. It’s important that the team feels like you buy in to them, value their opinion and do use it in the decision-making process. You won’t always be able to allow this to be a democracy; in fact, you often cannot, however it does not mean you cannot glean their thoughts on key issues. They will buy in more to a team and team meeting where their voice is heard.
(4) Challenge them to present solutions! Remember that no problem should be introduced without a proposed solution, and you should hold your team to that as well. It’s yet another way their voices can be heard, as people who are proposing solutions that will change their environment, enhance their roles and make the experience of working there better.
(5) Be a human being. Don’t talk at your team, talk with your team. When you are delivering bad news, do everything you can to explain the company stance, acknowledge the impact the change has and deliver your gameplan to move forward, all while allowing their feedback and controlling any venting and offering to meet offline – see how it all ties together? First and foremost, as a leader, you are paid to serve and protect your team, like our police force and fire department. Take the responsibility seriously! You can’t always just focus on the positives (another common mistake). You also cannot celebrate empty victories – I’ve seen too many managers try to find too much silver lining in a day when they hit 25% to goal. It’s important to point out that your team has minimum expectations and you aren’t hitting them, and to examine as a team what gaps exist in process and what you’re going to do about them.
Each team meeting needs an attention-grabber, organization and a plan to execute walking out of the meeting – whether you’re kicking off a day, week, month or year. You spice it up by not doing exactly what’s expected. You spice it up by gaining their respect buy valuing their opinion. You spice it up by making them an active part of the process – identifying where we are failing and why so you can work as a team together to eliminate those obstacles. You spice it up by empowering your team to share best practices of how they are overcoming issues so that everyone else can learn from your leaders. You spice it up by focusing on where you were, where you are now, and what you need to do as a team to move to where you all want to be.
Approach every sales opportunity for what it is: a unique opportunity to celebrate wins, focus on areas of opportunity together, answer questions, provide support, keep at the pulse of your team, and take a unified approach into the future – whatever your joint goals happen to be.
Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.
If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G28TWF