If your sales meetings were not required, would anyone show up?
Too often sales meetings are seen as a waste of time--an event that lacks any purpose or strategy. Sales Managers conduct them because it is required by senior management or simply because they've always had one, not because they have any specific goals. To make sales meetings matter, Sales Managers need to understand that the ultimate purpose should be to drive the performance of their team.
One of the first steps to making sales meetings more effective is to block other departments. A sales meeting is not the time to have marketing or human resources present any information. Instead, set up separate meeting to discuss items that may be important, but unrelated to sales.
Then consider meeting structure. Keeping the meeting organized will ensure that everyone stays on task and focused on meeting goals. Start with a quick update on performance numbers and dedicate the rest of the time to the development of specific skills.
Which skills should you focus on? That depends on the needs of your team. Topics that you may want to explore include:
Work on the steps, words and resources to help your sales reps generate more leads and improve their cold calling, networking and social media skills. Roel model the right way to do it and let them role-play to develop their skills.
2. Developing questions
Have a round-table discussion to develop a set of great questions that get the buyer talking about their issues and objectives. Make a list and add to it each month. Solicit feedback on how well they were received on sales calls. Modify as necessary.
3. Handling objections
Never allow your sales reps to engage a prospect without having been trained on common objections and how to respond effectively. Develop a set of good responses to common objections your sales reps encounter. Role-play them so they become a natural response that does not sound trite or scripted.
4. Qualifying buyers
One of the most important topics you can cover with your sales reps. Develop your qualifiers and corresponding questions for each one. That way your sales reps have a process for determining who will and won't buy. This prevents pipelines from getting filled with unqualified buyers that drain your sales rep's time and effort.
5. Building trust
Building trust is a process that consists of using good words and phrases designed to develop credibility in the mind of the buyer. Help your sales reps understand the importance of developing trust and how to do it. Avoid cliche's like "I was in the neighborhood" or "What do I need to do to earn your business?" Instead, develop value statements that they can include in the small talk to sales talk conversation.
6. Analyzing needs
The heartbeat of the sales process is understanding what the prospect wants and needs. Develop a set of good open-ended questions that help your sales reps uncover the specific about the buyers challenges, history, objectives, previous vendors and expected outcomes.
7. Uncovering value
Quantifying a buyers issues from a financial perspective is an incredible asset to any sales professional. Show your sales reps what the primary costs, waste, losses, etc that affect the prospects buying decision. That way, your sales reps will learn to focus on conducting business-focused conversations rather than product/price-focused conversations.
How do your sales reps differentiate themselves from your competitors? From dress, style and image to providing case studies, you have many options to work with here. Use sales meetings to list out your differential advantages and how they can leverage those things for winning against the competition.
9. Closing sales
Yes, you need to role-play the right words to finalize the transaction. Your sales reps words, gestures, responses and confidence all must work together to facilitate the close of a sales process. Use the time in your sales meetings to pair up sales reps and practice this critical step of the sale. Look for confident, controlled execution. Be prepared to provide feedback to ensure they execute this step properly.
10. Pre-call planning
How much prep work should your sales rep do prior to a sales call? What should they prepare? Questions? Collateral? References? Where should they look? LinkedIn? Company website? The struggle is in the details. I like a good checklist to help sales reps become more deliberate in their pre-call planning. You might want to create one and have them use it for awhile to develop their prep skills.
11. Understanding personality styles
Your sales reps sell to different types of buyers. Educate them on the different personality styles. Ask them to identify the personality styles of their existing customers. Find out which styles they sell to most easily. Find out which one's are most difficult. Role-play modifying personality styles to improve their skill at identifying and modifying based on the style of the buyer.
It's important to remember that focusing on these skills must include consistent practice. In order for a sports team to perform well they need to practice plays during the week. The team would not be effective if they spent the week sitting on the field simply discussing the plays. The same thing applies to your sales team. Don't waste time during your sales meeting discussing the skills you want to improve, instead, use this time to practice those skills through role play and feedback sessions. Practice is the only way to move your team toward improved selling skills.
Remember, sales meetings should not be about data gathering, procedure or handling requests from other departments. They should improve a specific selling skill by the time they leave. Focus on skill development to help reps realize their financial goals and you'll transform your weekly sales meeting from a time-wasting burden to the heartbeat of the sales week.