During my career in sales, I have often participated in sales meetings or at accounts planning.
At IBM, as a rep, these sales meetings would take place on a yearly basis. They were aimed at bringing the entire sales team together to coordinate our focus on one key client and plan the strategic directions to achieve the sales target.
For the last 11 years, at Exportia, I have mostly organised, contributed to or led sales meetings with sales agents in Europe and with sales teams across the globe.
Here are the main lessons I have learnt to make sure your sales meetings are productive, motivate your sales teams and are actually implemented.
Tip 1: Handle any issue or discontentment before the sales meeting
Sometimes, your sales team, whether they are sales agents or your own employees may need things, they may have some discontentment or specific needs. That happened to me once with a network of sales agents I recently had appointed for an Australian client in France. We were at the start so they were needing a lot of new marketing collaterals, a lot of support and some discontentment had emerged. So what I did was to spend an hour with each of them individually, I let them raise their concerns and needs. I then summarised and brought all the list of concerns and queries back to the CEO. We then addressed and responded to each and everyone of them. Then I did a wrap up with each agent in a brief phone call.
Now we were ready to start planning the sales meeting in a positive manner. Had we not done that, the sales meeting would have drowned in complaints and we would have been unable to plan for the year ahead.
Tip 2: Allow some time for the team get to know each other
You want everyone to have a get together the night before the first day or after the first day’s work. I am not keen on big parties, but that’s just me! You have to adjust to your audience, a bunch of young sales guys might like it. But I still think that you want everyone with a fresh mind and on time the next morning!
Tip 3: Get all the participants to present
I had been to the most horrible sales meeting where the director actually was presenting the whole time. She was gathering information for herself, it was long and boring, everyone was checking their e-mails. What a waste of time!
It’s important for everyone in the sales team to present where they are at in a concise way and what they are planning for the year ahead. Sales teams whether they are all in the same building or across several countries or continents crave for exchange: they want to hear about success stories, they want to hear what worked well in terms of sales campaign.
This has proven to be very successful.
Tip 4: Find leveraging activities
You have to find activities or a theme that all the team members could be interested in and organise an activity around it. You could get them to sit down and brainstorm on how they could target a specific industry or which distributors they could target to launch a new product – and that leads me to Tip 5.
Tip 5: Keep the group accountable
It’s all about the implementation! Accountability is key. Make sure that when everyone leaves the meeting they are really clear on what their next steps are. It can be articulated in a three month plan then you make sure you schedule a phone call with each participant to track the implementation of the plan on a monthly basis.
This is the most important part.
Tip 6: Learn from it
I recently conducted a sales meeting with a client and we made a point to debrief about it. We realised maybe not everyone should have been in the room. We had had a very busy couple of months and we did not prepare enough in comparison to other sales meetings we held in the past. It’s great to reflect on this and improve for the next time.
Christelle Damiens is the managing director of Exportia Australia and the president of Exportia France. Exportia assists Australian SMEs to successfully export their technology to Europe.