How many SMHs (Sales Meeting Hours) have you endured in the last year? 50? 150? Seemed like more? How many memorable ones have there been? Hmm, not so many?
As sales managers we struggle to come up with inspiring topics to share, to gain participation from our teams, to leave them all charged up on a Monday morning, ready to conquer the world! As sales reps, we wonder why we had to get up so early, what is the purpose? There are better things we can be doing right now! And yet, we do gather weekly and most of the time it’s great to hang out with each other because we are all driven by the same mission and want to succeed. The question is, how do we all make the most of the time and leave feeling invigorated?
In my earlier days in commercial radio I worked for a powerhouse news/talk/sports station in Seattle where we had two sales meetings a week, each at 7:30 a.m. Our bosses wanted us to be at our best, the first ones up, and the first to hit the streets. On Mondays the general manager of the station would open the meeting and he always had something interesting or strategic to share from his senior leadership position. He made us feel like a valuable part of the station, if not the most valuable. And he was a great speaker! I loved those “opens” and always left inspired and feeling like I was part of something much greater than myself.
I enjoyed a recent post in the Harvard Business Review Daily Journal by Art Markman titled “How to Run a Meeting Without Talking Too Much”. It spoke to me from my management days when I was that person working too late on a Friday to come up with an agenda that would be worth getting out of bed for the following Monday morning. A few of my tricks for running the meeting were:
Invite outside speakers.
These were mostly clients who could share some of their wisdom about the media world. They were always more interesting than I, and it also made the clients feel important.
Put a rep in charge of a portion of the meeting.
I always learned something from them about the real challenges they were facing.
Let people know what the main topic would be and ask them to come prepared to speak to it.
Plan a group exercise.
Request that each person prepare a portion and share it with the group.
As sales reps we also have a responsibility to make the meetings relevant. As in all things in life, the more you give the more you get. Come prepared to start the week. Be on time and please don’t bring your cold, half-eaten breakfast from home! Being attentive is such a gift to your manager, and to everyone else. If you don’t participate you will only have to watch your manager struggle to find words to fill the void. Ugh, been there? In the post referenced earlier, Art Markman offers these suggestions for meeting leaders:
Make notes and stick to them.
This speaks to being prepared. He makes the point that keeping your own comments to a maximum of three minutes is useful. Rehearsing them is even better. (I would bet donuts that my old GM rehearsed his “open”!)
Prepare others in advance.
Solicit input from key participants in advance so they will also be prepared to speak to the topic at hand.
Use a round-robin format.
This encourages everyone to participate without having to single people out. It also gives them a chance to prepare what they want to say. I’m sure many of our meetings included a chance for reps to share successes. This is an easy way to get people feeling good, talking, and learning from each other.
Sales meetings should be awesome! Sales people are the most dynamic, optimistic people I’ve ever met! By recognizing the roles we all play in making those SMHs valuable, everyone wins.