Let me first say that I am not a huge fan of meetings—especially when it concerns a sales team. Good salespeople are innately self-motivated, entrepreneurial in spirit, and have the desire to control their own destiny, unlike the salaried professional.
“I want a new Mac,” they say to themselves, and then go about making a deal to pay for the computer.
There are times when a meeting with your sales team is absolutely necessary, but in my experience I’ve found that the “manager” conducting the meeting has seen too many sports movies and is ultimately more invested in himself—subconsciously or not—and rarely addresses the problems of the team. He rambles on far too long, he fails to provide solutions to problems; he’s too negative in his approach.
“When I started out like you a million years ago …” Yawn. “The phone is not ringing back. What’s happening here?” You tell us. “I don’t know why I need you guys. I can do this myself.” Is that what you think of us?
The problem with most of these rah-rah speeches is that they provide little inspiration to the listener (or victim). In fact, sometimes they have the opposite effect: they take the air completely out of the room.
A solid sales meeting should last no longer than three minutes. That’s it. Three minutes. If you can’t get across an idea (not five or six ideas, one) in that time then don’t bother. Salespeople want to be on the phone working, not listening to a half hour of “Show and Tell” minus the show.
A good manager will lead by example. He will have the three minute meeting and then get on the phone and show his workers how the job is done. He won’t talk about it and then go back to his office to see how his Fantasy Baseball team stacks up. No, in a perfect sales world the manager will lead by example for thirty minutes immediately after the meeting. When employees see this, see that the boss is in the trenches too, dialing and facing rejection, their response will be positive. They’ll be energized and more determined to make deals.
Another problem with meetings is that that the manager will address the entire team but in reality he is just concerned about one or two employees. Big mistake. A good manager will speak privately with these individuals. Why would you want to disrupt the other eight or ten or twenty employees who are hitting their numbers and lighting the office on fire? It doesn’t make sense. Don’t waste their precious time.
The three-minute meeting (when necessary) is just the thing to fire up the troops. Choose one topic. For example:
“I’ve noticed the pitches are flat, guys. Jimmy, I saw you pitching while you were sitting down. Stand up when you pitch—stand tall, project. Mary, you sound too monotone when you pitch. Let’s work on vocal inflection, and don’t trail off when you ask for the deal. Keep you voice up. Carl, you have to make the pitch your own and not make it so canned. I think all of you can walk around the room a bit more. Get loose, take your breaks, collect yourself. All right, let’s get back on the phones. I’m going to be on the floor for half an hour making calls. Let’s make some sales. If you have any questions ask. I’m here to help.”
If you’re a sales manager strive for shorter and fewer meetings and get more involved in the sales process—just like your hard working employees. They’ll respond better when you lead by example. Remember, nobody respects the manager who talks about “the old days” and has no idea what his employees are up against. These are the same people who love “Dilbert” but ultimately have no clue that the cartoon strip is about them.
Let’s change that.