Sales Clinic: Sales Meetings Improve Sales Performance

This is the third installment in a four-part series on meetings. In the first two parts, we covered some general meeting issues and how to make a production meeting highly productive. This month, the topic is sales meetings, and right from the start, I want you to note my use of the plural. I think it's obvious from industry-wide performance that most salespeople aren't being managed nearly enough, and the solution to that problem involves lots of meetings: daily, weekly and monthly.

Daily Meetings

I recommend a brief "stand-up" meeting with each salesperson every morning, and the sole agenda item for this meeting should be the salesperson's plan for the day. I want to know how he/she plans to spend the day, from hour to hour—what appointments are scheduled, what inside work is planned, what sort of prospecting activities, and what he/she views as the day's priorities. This is an opportunity for you to adjust those priorities, and also an opportunity to ensure that you're satisfied with the activity level.

It's been my experience that many salespeople are willing to work hard, but they don't know how hard is hard enough. It's also been my experience that without supervision and accountability, most salespeople fall pretty quickly bad habits and a shrinking workday.

Weekly Meeting

I also recommend a weekly "sit-down" meeting, which should probably last for at least an hour. The agenda I recommend is to talk first about activity levels—how many prospecting calls have been made during the previous week, how many letters sent, how many appointments with prospects and current customers, how many and what sort of quotes have been processed, and how many orders have been received.

The next part of the conversation should be dedicated to problem solving, with the salesperson describing the obstacles he/she has been running into, and the owner suggesting possible solutions. The third part of the conversation should be the "commitment stage," where the salesperson commits to certain activities and activity levels during the upcoming week.

I hope you'll see how this agenda builds continuity into the ongoing sales management process. The commitment stage of one week's meeting leads directly into the activity discussion stage of the next week's.

Monthly Meeting

The daily and weekly meetings are for covering the nuts and bolts of selling and sales management. Then, at least once each month, I think you should also sit down and talk about performance. This could be a 20-30 minute extension of a regularly scheduled weekly meeting, or it could be a separate session. Several of my clients like to have these monthly sales meetings over breakfast or lunch.

The agenda for this meeting should start with numbers—in other words, performance against goals, both monthly and year-to-date. After that, the discussion should move on to more subjective issues—in other words, each party's level of satisfaction with the way things are going, and what should be done to resolve any problems. This is an opportunity for open and honest communication—which is how problems get solved!

Next month: full team meetings.