In response to a question on LinkedIn as to what constitutes an effective sales meeting…

Let me start by saying that I am neither a salesman nor what a professional coach would consider a coach however I consult in the sales and pre-sales space around technology, IT services and outsourcing… and I have spent far too much of my life, like the rest of you, in sales meetings that were clearly NOT effective, and so would like to offer a few opinions on the discussion.

I agree with all everyone says about circulating agendas, themes, guests, schedules, outcomes, the responsibility of all to participate in the success of the meeting, minutes and all the rest – but publishing your agenda and encouraging participation and openness is standard for successful team meetings in most aspects of a business.

While I won’t tell you how to motivate your teams since I don’t know them or what they need, I do want to mention a few things that are sure to convert all of the aforementioned good work into an ineffective meeting:

– Facilitation: whoever manages the session should manage the session; the group needs to act like a team with a single conversation only

– Bad slides: I won’t bore you with detail – though I do hope that you know the difference (if not, let me know… we’ll talk)
o One way to fix it: pay attention, care, produce better slides (audience members: criticise poor slides when you see them… better to point out areas for improvement internally with peers than to deliver a bad presentation to your customer… then again, do you always needs to use a slide deck?

– Focus of agenda on interests of all: we don’t care how much Robert, Mark, Susan and Bill sold last year, this year or hope to sell next year… okay, we do care a little but do not require extensive reporting: the boss needs the deep detail, for the most part the rest of the team needs only an overview.
o Ways to fix it: mix it up, but things that might be valuable, depending on the needs of the owner of the meeting, include: did they do anything different on that recent closure; have they come up with an approach to have that ‘different kind of conversation’; tell us why they went after the CFO for that last deal and why it did or didn’t work;… in other words educate and inform the team with things that their peers are doing that could apply to their own space. One approach that I have used in the past is to ask each member of the team to provide one roadblock encountered and one roadblock cleared since the last meeting, the former to seek ideas and assistance, the latter to inform and pass on skills and knowledge

– Repetitiveness is boring
o Ways to fix it: rotating different team members as facilitators each meeting, charged with changing something from the last time and ensuring interaction during the session
o Boss’s choice: deliver something needed topically = it may be education one session, a customer / expert / exec speaking the next

– Show that you are listening and interested: capture and document ideas, plan how to take the good ones forward

If you manage some or all of the above, you will have people leaving the meeting not only feeling that it had not been a waste of their time – and maybe even motivated by someone else’s idea, solution or comments or, just as often, by the thoughts tweaked and synapses fired in his own head, generating the right answer for his issue based on the knowledge and interaction of the session.

All of the above is opinion, take it as you may… but one thing I can guarantee you is that playing ‘that’ scene from Glengarry Glen Ross is not the motivator that you might think it is.

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