Organizing and running sales meetings - Sales Management

The sales meeting has been used as the critical link between the company and the sales team. The sales meeting traditionally has been used to update sales staff on product knowledge, selling skills, sales goals, marketing direction, administrative and service needs, etc.

It should also be used as an opportunity to encourage, reward and inspire Sales meetings are usually organized periodically,often monthly, amongst a group of salespersons with common interests or issues to address, e.g. key account managers, field sales managers, territory salespersons,under the chairmanship of their line manager. Meetings are often planned to address:

  • performance feedback, particularly deviations from plans
  • product information (range, packaging,advertising, etc.)
  • sales promotional activity
  • sales targeting
  • sales force procedures and operational matters
  • sales skill training.

Sales conferences normally draw together all the various sections of the sales and marketing team, at a national gathering, often only once per year. Often conferences redesigned to communicate more momentous developments than might be covered at local sales meetings, and provide a sense of focus and direction to a longer time period, such as the next year.

The purpose of meetings and conferences

A meeting should have a clear purpose (or limited range of purposes) and agenda, established in advance in order that all the inputs focus on the purpose. The main purposes of sales meetings are:

  • participation which promotes team building
  • problem resolution, identifying an devaluating alternative options
  • instruction, imparting new information,data, selling or marketing techniques,training, administrative systems and procedures, policies, programmers
  • motivation, focusing on performance feedback, encouragement, productivity improvement ideas, and exchanges of experiences and ideas
  • exploration of new ideas to improve productivity or performance, or promote the achievement of goals and objectives.

Sales meeting organization

If a sales meeting is to achieve its objective sand also to enhance the sales manager’s reputation as a professional within his or her sales team it is essential that it be planned thoroughly. The main complaints of salespersons about meetings are usually that:

  • they take too long
  • subject coverage is repetitive
  • they don’t seem to achieve anything
  • too much time is wasted on parochial(individual) issues not relevant to all the attendees.

The sales manager must avoid these criticisms within his or her own team, and can do this by thorough meeting planning and preparation, addressing each of the following points.

Conducting sales meetings

A sales meeting should be treated like a sales presentation, with the objectives of:

  • gaining and retaining attention
  • creating interest in the subject matter
  • generating desire in the attendees to implement the content of the meeting in everyday work practices
  • provoking appropriate action from the participants.

The sales meeting might make use of several formats, as listed in the following table, depending on its purpose and objectives.

Example-meeting-room-layouts

Chairing the sales meeting

At the beginning of a sales meeting the sales manager leading the meeting should:

  • introduce the topics clearly and definitively
  • define the purpose and objectives of the meeting
  • limit the scope of the meeting and questions to matters which can be covered within the time span
  • set the guidelines on rules and procedures for the meeting
  • work to develop positive and receptive attitudes in the attending salespersons.The sales manager, acting as the chairperson,should, in a participatory sales meeting:
  • obtain views and opinions from participants
  • gather information on the nature and strength of feelings on issues discussed
  • get a reaction on the subject matter,discussion points and proposals
  • develop the discussion so that it leads to the desired conclusion, action or acceptance of ideas and proposals
  • produce the intended modification of attitudes, opinions, behavior, activities,action or techniques
  • demonstrate a neutrality or impartiality which earns the respect and co-operation of the group in the meeting
  • encourage salesperson participation and involvement to retain attention and interest, drawing in people with contribution to make.

A-sample-agenda-for-a-sales-area-meeting

The sales manager must remain in control of the meeting while involving each member of the team as appropriate. He must work to gain acceptance of ideas and a commitment to programmers introduced, communicating the benefits of change in a way the team understands and accepts.

Communication aids

In a sales meeting communication aids are generally used to:

  • direct and retain attention and interest
  • present often complex information in meaningful and comprehensible fashion
  • record salespersons’ inputs and comments involve the sales team in a participatory meeting
  • increase assimilation and retention of information
  • summarize main points of presentations
  • provide a focal point as the meeting develops into a practical planning and implementation session.

It is important to use a variety of visual communication aids to gain and retain attention.

Typical visual aids you, the sales manager,are likely to use include:

  • blackboards and flip charts, or other forms of ’white board’ used for writing notes
  • magnetic boards
  • product samples
  • films and video films
  • prepared charts and graphs (possibly including some overlay charts)
  • slides (possibly from a computer-based presentation programmer, projected onto screen), and overhead projector transparencies
  • pictures and photographs
  • models such as of products or projects
  • sound recordings
  • personal commentaries (from salespersons who have experience to contribute).

Check which visual aids will help you conduct the meeting, and ensure they are available at the meeting venue. Often you will want to do some preparation, such as writing notes on flip charts, in advance of the meeting. If any form of slides is being used you will need to check they are in correct running order (it helps to number them). If you are preparing visual aids in advance then consider how to maximize impact through design factors such as:

  • size
  • legibility
  • originality
  • simplicity
  • clarity
  • co lour
  • realism
  • relevance to the meeting content and the audience.

Do not expect your audience to undertake mental gymnastics trying to comprehend your meanings and messages.


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