Leading Effective Sales Meetings

This is how sales meetings play out at the typical commercial real estate firm:

It’s 10:06 a.m. on Tuesday and people are still strolling in for the start of your standing 10:00 sales meeting. Those who are already seated, including the managing broker, are chatting about what they did last weekend and in no apparent rush to get things underway. When the meeting finally does begin at 10:08, half the people are on their phones reading emails or playing games. Several other attendees didn’t bother to show, claiming they had “important client meetings” or “showings.”

The meeting bounces from one topic to another with a lot of interruptions and tangential conversations. When the meeting finally ends – 17 minutes past the scheduled time – attendees bolt out as fast as they can, grumbling to each other about how much time they just wasted. One agent says to another, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”

Sadly, the above passage describes too many sales meetings at too many companies. That’s why attendance at sales meetings is often not so stellar, and those brokers who do show up are often sitting back in their chairs, on their phones and not engaging in the meeting.

When surveyed anonymously, brokers admit that they generally dislike their company’s sales meetings, but that’s because meeting leaders typically don’t put enough effort into those meetings. If you’re the leader, it’s up to you to make your meetings useful and desirable. That’s especially true if your brokers are independent contractors and legally can’t be “forced” to attend.

Hopefully, the meetings at your firm are much better than the scenario above, but there’s a good chance your meetings aren’t as efficient and beneficial as they could be. After all, meetings have long been the butt of jokes…

Comedian Fred Allen once quipped, “A committee is a group of men, who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.”

President Ronald Reagan had his own quip about meetings: “I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I’m in a cabinet meeting.”

Never hold a sales meeting just for the sake of holding a meeting. If the meeting doesn’t improve skills, encourage communication and foster trust, you’re wasting everybody’s time. If you want to improve your meetings, here are a few things to consider:

See It Through their Eyes – When you view the agenda through your agents’ eyes, you can assess the meeting’s strengths and weaknesses. In order to increase the attendance at and participation in your sales meetings, make the meetings valuable to the attendees.

Skillful Facilitation – The person who leads the sales meeting must have good facilitation skills, which means he or she is fully present and in charge of the meeting. A competent meeting facilitator is inclusive-but-assertive, meaning he or she makes sure all people are involved in the discussion but has the discipline necessary to keep the meeting on schedule.

The facilitator should always be on the lookout for an excuse to publicly praise individual brokers in front of the whole group. A good leader sees the facilitation of sales meetings to be an art, carefully balancing the agenda/business side of the meeting with humor and light heartedness.

Free Stuff – Periodically give away company swag, such as t-shirts or coffee cups with the company logo. Free food also helps. Some companies provide coffee and doughnuts at their sales meetings. Other companies will periodically reserve a room at a nearby restaurant and provide breakfast or lunch for the whole sales team.

Rotating Facilitators – Once in a while, it might make sense to have one of the agents lead the weekly meeting. Periodically offer one of the normal attendees to be guest facilitator. Let him or her design their own agenda. Having one of the agents act as guest facilitator would be fun and a nice change of pace for everyone.

Outside Speakers – Meeting attendees tend to listen more intently when someone outside the company is presenting. Just like the rotating facilitator advice above, it’s a change of pace. What’s more, high-quality speakers provide valuable information that will help sales reps be more effective and close deals faster. Make sure these speakers actually teach the attendees something instead of just advertising their businesses.

Team Building– It might make sense a couple times a year to cancel the weekly sales meeting. In its stead, schedule a bonding activity such as an outing to a go-cart-racing track, golf course or game arcade. You could also consider hiring a retreat leader and going through a structured team building exercise. If you choose to do a facilitated team building exercise, it is better to do it off site rather than inside your office.

Recruitment Tool – If you have a well-organized sales meeting with engaged attendees, you have a useful recruitment tool. If someone is thinking about joining your team, let them observe a sales meeting (assuming you are not going over confidential internal information that week). Most existing brokers will be even more alert and active in the meeting if they have a prospective colleague present.

I did a full-day sales training workshop for a CRE company last week, and they used it as a recruitment tool. They invited three brokers they were recruiting from competing firms. Why? To show those brokers that the firm was committed to broker development.

Leave Them Wanting More – In the end, the meeting should be a positive, enjoyable experience filled with valuable information that helps attendees be more successful. But don’t go too long. A great meeting is even better when it ends on time.

How Do You Know If a Sales Meeting Was Successful?

1. Brokers leave the meeting better equipped to do their jobs and are energized.

2. Brokers and staff members are joking around with each other.

3. Some of the brokers stick around the room talking with each other.

4. People in the office refer to things in the meeting for several days afterwards.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 6 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.