Meet Up and Heat Up

By Malcolm Fleschner

Do your sales meetings have all the excitement and vitality of a Russian state funeral? Have salespeople been known to fake their own deaths to get out of having to attend? Do some participants fall asleep in the middle of presentations – even the instructors? To bring some vitality back to your moribund sales meetings, consider the following tips from Mark Vassallo, president of Electronic Theater Controls-Americas.

1. Try half-and-half
“National sales meetings that go on all day and all night can be a big waste of time because they’re tedious and unproductive. Try a half-day of meetings, then let the entire group go off-site for something fun, like golf or a spa. Part of the point is to foster camaraderie and let people blow off steam, and that just doesn’t happen as well in a conference room.”

2. Open up the floor
“It’s good to have a schedule, but leave some time for sidetracking and questions. And let people know you’re eager to take questions. Then get back to your focus and move forward.”

3. Do your job
“As a sales professional, you should be able to give a damned good presentation. Take the skills you use to wow your customers and apply them to your meeting. You should be able to do the same for your salespeople.”

4. Keep playing the upbeat
“There’s a fine line between problem solving and a witch trial. Don’t let your meeting degenerate into recriminations and accusations about product failures and the like. Keep it instructive but positive. If necessary, take the problem offline and discuss it privately.”

5. Basic training
“A portion of your meeting should always be dedicated to the basics – the 80-20 rule, the three-call rule, etc. It’s like a golf lesson – even the pros need them. You always have to be correcting or you’ll switch back into old bad habits. We all need constant reminders.”

6. It keeps going and going and going…
Training shouldn’t begin and end at the meeting. If you want your salespeople to think strategically, be proactive and find unique solutions to customer issues. You need to reinforce that. Whenever you call, throughout the year, refer back to the training you covered and ask, ‘Are you doing this? How can we help you do more?'”