A VP’s 4 tips to running a successful sales meeting

Zendesk Sell VP Monica Telles breaks down how to run meetings that benefit you and your sales reps.

By Monica Telles, Vice President of Zendesk Sell

Published September 10, 2020
Last updated December 21, 2020

Have you ever been to a sales meeting and thought to yourself — “why are we here?” You sit and listen through a big spiel, but there’s no real rhyme or reason to the structure of the meeting.

We’ve all been there. In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey found that 71% of senior managers think meetings are unproductive and inefficient.

And for sales teams, unnecessary meetings are especially damaging. Reps need as much space in their schedules as possible to communicate with prospects, so you don’t want to waste their time.

Running an effective sales meeting can be a tall order, especially as teams work remotely through a pandemic. But don’t worry, sales managers, there are some easy ways to stay ahead of the curve.

Get input from team members

1. Get input from team members

Before you meet with your sales team, ask your reps what they want to cover as a group. Team members will feel heard, which will likely boost the group’s morale. And by gathering this input, you’ll learn more about reps’ pain points and how they’re handling prospects.

Email team members ahead of the scheduled meeting and ask them about customer challenges they would like to discuss. Or, set up a quick one-on-one chat a week or so before the meeting to understand their pain points in a little more detail.

Not able to collect input beforehand? Ask which customer questions they’d like to discuss at the meeting. By hearing from every rep, you might identify recurring customer issues that need to be addressed.

One of the best ways to get input from team members is to ask them to bring three examples of customer-related inquiries or challenges to the meeting.

The point of bringing these examples to a meeting is to identify any recurring themes. Maybe there’s a specific pricing issue that’s come up for different reps while talking to prospects — that may be something important to focus on and address later.

If the customer-related inquiry or challenge doesn’t stretch across different team members, it could mean a more individual issue that a rep is facing. In that case, you can get more information and context from that team member after the meeting.

To gather input, it’s critical that you build a compassionate work environment where team members feel comfortable speaking their minds. If you dismiss reps’ ideas, they’ll likely avoid sharing their thoughts in the future. Handle these inquiries with respect (no matter how big or small), and your team members will feel like you have their backs.

Define success

2. Define what success looks like

Set a clear objective for your meeting prior to running it, so every attendee knows how to prepare for it. This planning also saves time. The meeting will move quickly in a clear direction if everyone understands the point of the discussion.

Bonus sales meeting tip: track and celebrate wins

We have a seperate Slack channel to track all wins as a team and then we bring them to our all-hands sales meeting. A fun way to celebrate those team wins remotely is using any and all Giphys!

Say, for example, you’re running a forecasting meeting. Make sure team members understand the objective of the meeting, and ask that they come prepared to talk about specific KPIs. You can even put together a sales meeting agenda for activity expectations that clearly shows how many calls reps are expected to take or how much revenue they’re expected to bring in daily or monthly.

Don’t set vague, general goals for your sales meetings. A productive sales meeting should serve a specific function, such as:

  • Setting specific sales KPIs for the team to track and measure
  • Updating the status of current sales projects
  • Addressing individual and overall sales challenges the team is facing

Use the SMART framework—smart, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—to set clear meeting objectives. Make sure goals fit each of these criteria before scheduling your meeting.

Focus on one topic

3. Focus each sales meeting around one topic

Minimize general meetings that cover a wide range of areas. They tend to be unfocused, and the invite list often includes people who don’t need to be there.

Single-topic meetings are often easier to run. Everyone stays on track with one idea to discuss. These meetings also give reps more room in their schedules. There’s no good reason someone should be at a sales meeting if it doesn’t apply to them. They shouldn’t be stepping away from their work and forced to join for the sake of sitting in.

When scheduling single-topic meetings, make sure that every rep gets a chance to interact with other team members. Due to COVID-19, many people are working remotely now, making these meetings all the more important. They’re an opportunity for reps to get a bit of face time and stay connected. These interactions can also supplant random brainstorms you’d normally have working in a full office.

Keep your sales team engaged

4. Keep your sales team engaged

When employees are disengaged, your business suffers. Low team morale often means low productivity. Not to mention, the cost of employee turnover can range anywhere from 75-150% of their annual salary.

Considering these factors, it’s in your company’s best interests to make sure your sales team stays invested.

Design meetings in ways that keep reps feeling invested in your team. In the world of COVID-19, that means working around remote communication.

Bonus sales meeting tip: seed the conversation

If you’re running a virtual sales meeting, ask questions prior to the meeting. Sometimes I will prep individuals with what I’m going to ask so they can think of a good response to promote deeper conversation.

For a one-on-one meeting, you might allow reps to call in by phone for a casual conversation away from the computer. Your remote reps are likely feeling Zoom fatigue with so many video chats, so they’ll probably appreciate having this flexibility. You might even suggest they walk around the block to get some fresh air as you chat.

Along with one-on-ones, set up regular video “water cooler chats” where sales reps chat about their lives outside of the company. Team members will likely feel more engaged if they get to know each other personally. Ideally, these chats will give reps a taste of normal office banter and help them feel more connected to team members.

Keep a flexible mindset toward sales meetings

Sales meetings require structure, but the order doesn’t have to remain static. Feel free to adapt your sales meetings based on your team members’ schedules and workloads.

This flexibility is especially important when your sales team is busy and stressed. Check in individually with your team members to see how they’re doing, and gauge whether a calendar invite will add to their anxiety. Approaching meetings with this compassion can go a long way toward making your reps feel supported.

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