Entrepreneurship is nearing all-time highs, with more and more of the workforce starting businesses and leaping into leadership roles. Which is wonderful news for innovation, job creation, the economy, the list goes on. The only problem is, most of us aren’t taught leadership in business school, or through our prior jobs. So the people running these new businesses are often on their own when it comes to figuring out what does (and doesn’t) make a good leader.
Sales is a field that practically encourages poor leadership. When numbers are bad, managers often blame their teams. When a deal doesn’t close….well obviously it was because the sales team didn’t listen during those key strategy meetings. Right?
Sales meetings are critical to the success of a team overall, far more so than the average departmental meeting. But there’s a right and wrong way to structure and lead them – and opting for the right way will generate both sales results and happier employees overall.
How can you ensure your sales meetings are accomplishing these goals? Use these three steps:
1. Make sure the goal of every meeting is to benefit everyone in it.
I’ve been on countless conference calls where we spend an hour updating one person (often the CEO) on deals that are completely up-to-date and documented in our CRM. Who benefits from that meeting? One person. If that same hour had been spent in Salesforce instead, we could have saved 10 hours of the sales team’s time. Sure, CEOs and managers need updates on key business details—but there’s a way to update them without wasting your team’s time, and leaving them with little to no value.
. When prepping for any meeting, be it team or a one-on-one, review key points from the last meeting and ensure you are prepped. As a CEO or sales leader, it can be tough to find prep time between back-to-back commitments, but even 10 minutes of looking over notes will make for a far more productive meeting, and will leave the team members feeling like you value their time. If you can’t prep at all before the meeting time, let your employees know, and ask, “Can I have 10 minutes right now to make the next 50 more productive?”
3. Divide and prioritize meetings by purpose
. There are 4 types of meetings that a sales leader should have with his or her sales team. They are ranked below by the value they actually add to the success of your team, from most valuable to lease. They are:
– Personal Growth. The most important in many ways, this is a monthly one-on-one held with each team member where you discuss their goals in the upcoming weeks, and their account or project-based planning/strategy.
In my goals meetings with my team, I spend 100% of our time recording and documenting the progress of key goals determined by the team member, focusing on personal and professional milestones to work toward. This is your chance to find out what makes this person tick, and what drives them – which is vital info if you want to keep that person happy and engage them long-term.
– Project/Account Strategy. This second monthly meeting is meant to teach critical thinking skills around how to approach difficult projects and accounts that are not in the pipeline. These meetings are diamonds in the rough (be sure to block off plenty of time) where we can brainstorm, discuss new ideas, and talk new ways of mapping out the account.
– Performance. This one’s a quarterly or semi-annual check-in to discuss the team member’s performance against expectations and how he/she is performing in areas outside of quota or target achievement. This is critical to do on a consistent basis because it reinforces key principles outside of quota attainment. Also, it helps the team member not associate performance meetings with, “Ok what did I do wrong?”
– Pipeline. What many think is the most important is really the least essential of meetings. Why? Because you’re spending time reviewing information that doesn’t help the team member solve issues or prevent them in the long run. Most managers have a system already in place for pipeline check-ins, but here are a few tips to improve them:
- Make the CRM the focus, and ensure any information presented in the CRM is updated/correct.
- Prepare for the meeting by spending 5-10 minutes in the report, focusing on any changes.
- Document any milestones and key next steps – it’ll make next week’s meeting much more productive.
While it may seem counterintuitive, long-term-focused meetings are how you should be thinking about your company and division. If you spend more time focusing on developing your talent, and less time reviewing reports with them, you’ll be amazed by the results.