Pre-Meeting Assignments

By Heather Baldwin

It’s no secret that meeting leaders need to do some preparation in order to run a quality, productive meeting. But to really bump things up a notch, have your attendees do some preparation as well. Pre-meeting assignments can be very useful motivational tools, says Barry Farber, author of SuperStar Sales Manager’s Secrets (Career Press, 2003). “You’re forcing reps to realize that they’re going to be involved in the meeting,” he says. At the same time, he adds, you’re stimulating their thinking on the subjects that will be addressed during the meeting. Farber offers these suggestions for pre-meeting assignment topics:

Handling Objections. Ask your reps to bring to the meeting five of their most common objections and the ways they handle them now. Plan to discuss those objections and solicit input from other reps during the meeting. Farber says you’ll find that by asking reps to start thinking about the objections beforehand, they’ll probably start changing the way they handle them before they even get to the meeting.

Product Knowledge. Ask your reps to be prepared to demonstrate all aspects of a particular product. Before the meeting, put slips of paper with the names of various product features in a hat and ask each rep to pick one at some point during the meeting. The rep will then have to demonstrate that feature to the rest of the group. This exercise is a great way to build total product knowledge. Not only will reps get to hear presentations about all the features, they’ll have to be prepared to demonstrate the entire product.

Breaking Into Major Accounts. Ask your reps to bring a list of the five largest accounts they would like to break into in their territory. Have them also bring any information they have on those accounts and be prepared to strategize ways to land them.

Selling Value. Ask your reps to bring to the meeting five reasons why customers should pay more for your product. Share the ideas at the meeting so your team will be armed with a long list of ways to handle price objections.