Understanding A Sales Meeting

There are meetings, and there are meetings (very often too many of them!), but one thing every meeting should produce is measurable, achievable and progressive outcomes.

As elementary as this sounds (My Dear Watson) it’s sometimes quite astonishing how often meetings fail to produce this result.

This happens for a variety of reasons, though it’s safe to say that the main two reasons are (a) that there has been a lack of understanding, and (b) that there has been a lack of commitment. Both issues arise from the incorrect positioning of the dialogue.

The giveaway is in the title. If the meeting does not produce sales resultant outcomes – budget, orders, market share, etc. – then it has no business calling itself a Sales Meeting. As they say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … well, it’s a duck, not a Sales Meeting.

Understanding a Sales Meeting
Image courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been a party to sales meetings my entire working life, as a participant and as a manager. The most common failing of many sales meetings is that the chair does not understand the basics of running such a meeting.

Naturally, every sales meeting is about performance and sometimes there is a distinct lack of understanding of how to successfully translate this objective into meaningful, dynamic, real time, meeting outcomes (sales!!).

For example, if the meeting revolves simplistically around looking at last month’s figures, berating those team members who haven’t hit target, lavishly praising the team star and worst, kicking the team trailer (while she’s down) what you have is a Head Kicker Session not a Sales Meeting.

Similarly, if the meeting is all about what the company needs and wants with no substance (dialogue) as to how the team individuals can actively go out and achieve this, you might just as well send out a memorandum directive email. That’s not even a meeting!

The absolute worst sales meetings have been those where the boss expounds at length on a particular individual’s poor performance or that of a few non-performing team members.

That’s not a sales meeting. That’s a performance review. The reason (other than HR legislation) that those are done in private is that if there’re performance issues to address these should not be aired in public. At best you’ll end up with one shattered, humiliated individual (and how great is his performance likely to be then?!); at worst you’ll end up with the entire team thinking you’re a complete bar-steward, eager to stick the knife in at the earliest opportunity. The ‘sales meeting’ then moves on to projections for the new month, often in similar vein.

Too often the finale, in the guise of Any Other Business, degenerates into a whinging session or the boring minutiae of office housekeeping, e.g. the admin staff have again complained that no one is washing up their lunch dishes. Be still my beating heart! Boy is this going to project your team like so many sales-seeking-missiles out of that meeting room ready to wrest the best out of the day’s opportunities – not.

There are two things any chair must get out of the Sales Meeting:

  1. The team’s understanding of how to achieve their target
  2. The team’s commitment to achieving their target

We’ll talk about how we achieve this next time. Meantime, watch out for ducks!

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

This post originally appeared on Simple Team Meeting on 3 June 2015

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