Sales Meeting? I’m Game!

By Heather Baldwin

Most sales managers know their sales meetings should be educational, but not all of them realize that educational doesn’t have to mean boring. To spice up your next meeting and teach your sales reps some valuable skills, try incorporating some ideas from The Big Book of Sales Games (McGraw-Hill, 1999) by Peggy Carlaw and Vasudha Kathleen Deming. Here are three of their suggestions.

1. Think On Your Feet is an active, high-spirited game that helps sales reps learn to quickly translate product features into customer benefits. All you’ll need to do ahead of time is make a list of product features and find a small, soft ball. To play the game, ask salespeople to stand in a circle a few feet apart. Tell them you’ll toss the ball to someone as you call out a feature of one of their products. The person must catch the ball, respond with a corresponding benefit and then throw the ball to another rep who does the same. After three or four tosses the ball should come back to you so you can call out another product feature and start the process again.

2. Dressing for Success is a consciousness-raising game that helps salespeople examine their own biases and impressions based on people’s appearances. Sometime before the meeting select at least five photos of people in magazines or print ads per group. (There will be three or four participants in a group.) “The photos should represent as diverse a population as possible and they should not portray famous or recognizable people,” say Carlaw and Deming. When you are ready to play, divide your team in to the groups, hand each group their assigned photos and instruct them to discuss their impressions of the people in the photos. After about five minutes ask each group to report on its impressions. Then tell them to think about and discuss what impressions buyers might have of each of them based on how they look. “Emphasize that the objective of the game is not to debate whether these first impressions are fair,” say the authors. “The salespeople should focus solely on what impressions their appearance makes on potential buyers.”

3. Ticket for Success is a game that helps sales reps solve their most pressing challenge with input from peers. Prior to the meeting, ask the reps to write down a sales problem they are currently having. The paper on which they write that problem is their ticket into the meeting. Once everyone is seated, instruct the members of your team to pass their paper to the person on their left. Then give everyone 30 seconds to consider the problem and write a solution on the back of the paper. At the end of 30 seconds, holler: Pass! The papers should all move to the left again. This continues until each attendee has his or her own piece of paper back.