Designing a Powerful Sales Meeting
Actually, sales management, as important as it is, should not be a full-time job in most businesses. If goals are properly set, communicated and monitored, if the right people are hired and developed, and if management will remove any unreasonable obstacles to production, producers should essentially manage themselves. They simply need to know that their performance is being monitored and that poor performance will not be tolerated.
The centerpiece of sales management is the sales meeting. Effective, weekly sales meetings are used to play-out the sales management process. It is during this time that sales activity can be properly monitored. Numbers are reviewed and discussed. Specific sales activity for each producer and the group is checked and analyzed by all. It is during this time that the rubber hits the road on new business produced, lost business, hit ratio for each producer, prospect activity, what referrals have been obtained from new sales, etc.
The sales meeting time is not just for working on numbers. Producers have egos and need recognition. These sales meetings are also an excellent time to recognize superior performance. This is also the time to train and educate. The production staff, including marketing personnel, needs to be kept current with new information on markets, new target markets, unique programs or products available, collection problems and service issues and backlogs. Sales coaching is imperative. Role-play with the producers. Encourage double-teaming to exploit strengths and minimize weaknesses.
The Sales Manager should oversee that the meeting runs well, but the leader can vary each time, to get others involved. A sales meeting should be held at least twice a month. The topics to be covered in the sales meetings should have a typed agenda that sent to each attendee before each meeting. The following is the standard topics that need to be addressed in each meeting:
– The group needs to go over the new production from each producer for the past month. To facilitate this process each salesperson’s activity sheet should be turned in before the meeting and photocopied so that each person attending will have a package that includes everyone’s sales activity. Each activity sheet is reviewed to go over past performance of the month (accounts with an effective date of the previous month) and another sheet per salesperson for what is in the pipeline to be quoted and effective in the next three months.
– The sales manager needs to remind each producer on how his or her production relates to that salesperson’s goal for the year. Are they meeting their goals? Put the worksheet into Excel or use something like SalesForce.com so the data can be manipulated for statistics, if possible. Volume commitments can be monitored also, especially with accounts in process.
– Discuss hit ratio per producer. Typically hit ratios will vary based on industry and products. The closer to 100% the better, but 25% might be okay for some industries. If there is a problem, then evaluate what could be the cause. Perform a diagnosis on the lost prospects. Ask if each salesperson is using a prospect qualification process to improve the qualification of the prospect. Find out the effectiveness of qualifying leads and ways to improve the process.
– Determine which products/services are selling and why. What is the trend based on? What does the future look like? Find a cause and effect for what is selling or not.
– Review all current product/service information of interest to the sales staff. Assign a person or persons to be responsible for keeping abreast of news and information and report updates to the team. Current, up to the minute knowledge can be a major differentiator.
– Discuss problems that the producers are having in qualifying leads, closing sales or with other departments, e.g. support personnel, engineering, marketing, etc. Role-play the tough cases for maximum effect. It is here where the skills of the better producers can be exploited and shared with the newer and less skilled producers. Have producers try new sales techniques and report back on the results. Have the producers share information they learned from sales classes they attended or tapes they may have listened to.
– Determine where salespeople will concentrate their efforts for the next month. Go over their goals and “centers of influence” and then compare that background to the prospects they have on their list. Ask for ideas on ways to generate new prospects and new coverages for existing clients. Let the group brainstorm to help each other when required.