Fun and Games

By Heather Baldwin

Interactive relevant games, if used properly, are a surefire route to boosting the energy level of a meeting, improving your team’s selling skills and transforming your meetings into a can’t-miss part of the day, says Melinda Terreri, owner of Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based mtm Marketing and author of Better Sales Meetings in 3 to 30 Minutes (mtm Marketing, 1998). But keep the games short and keep them pertinent to a specific selling skill.

For instance, almost everyone has at one time played the game in which a tray of items hidden under a cloth is uncovered for about 30 seconds. The winner is the one who later can recall the most items from memory. As a variation to that game, Terreri suggests that sales managers launch the training portion of a meeting by recalling that game, then have someone unfamiliar to their salespeople come into the weekly meeting with a tray of items. As in the original game, this person should stay for only about 30 seconds to a minute. As soon as the person leaves, the sales manager throws a curve ball by asking his team to write down everything they can about the person who brought in the tray.

This twist “brings in the unexpected,” says Terreri. “It forces the salesperson to refocus on the person, not the product” – which is the whole point of this game. From here, a sales manager might ask, “Has anyone ever lost a sale because they were focused on a product and totally missed what the customer was after?” Create from the ensuing discussion a list of techniques salespeople can use to stay focused on the customer, and you’ve just put together a useful, memorable meeting.

By including the general training topic on the agenda and asking that people come armed with problems or solutions they’ve encountered relating to that topic, you ensure that your team will be prepared for the meeting. They will likely offer far more valuable input, and meetings are more likely to stay focused. Terreri offers just one note of caution: “When you do these activities, look at how they will help sell,” she says. “Otherwise, you’re just playing goofy games and people don’t think they mean anything.”