I'll start by pointing out the obvious: Sales meetings should be designed to help the participants increase their production. This is why they are called sales meetings. Unfortunately, all too often, they are not effective in this regard. Why is this the case?
All too often sales meetings become complaint sessions or meetings that merely focus upon products and numbers, such as 'what did we do last week' and 'what products do we have.' This is not to say that numbers and products do not belong in sales meetings—but they do not address the number one goal of increased production.
Sales meetings should primarily deal with improving our sales and marketing skills. If we are not doing that, we are not holding highly effective sales meetings. The following is a series of ideas that might help us make these meetings more interactive and sales oriented.
- Features: Have each loan officer pick one product or sales tool and report to the group on the features and benefits. Who are the targets of these features and how can they be approached? What tools might we use to reach these targets?
- Benchmarking: Bring in a successful loan officer from another branch, company, or industry. Have them give their story of success and take questions.
- Success stories: Go around the room and have each loan officer give a success story from the previous week.
- Short-term goals: Go around the room and have each loan officer set a goal for meetings or applications for the next week. Announce a reward for meeting the weekly goal. Or perhaps focus on a specific action such as visiting open houses. Give a prize for the #1 success story.
- Manager visits: Swap branch managers from different offices for the purpose of conducting the meetings.
- Contests: Hold a contest and report on the results every week. Perhaps you can divide the group into two teams. Have the teams sit on each side of the conference room table so that there is a true spirt of competition.
In other words, there are many ideas you can implement which will further the training and coaching goals of the sales force instead of focusing upon pipeline issues and fixing problems. Here are a few more “general” rules regarding holding sales meetings, many of which apply to training sessions as well:
- Consistency: They should be held at regular scheduled times so that employees can integrate meetings into their long-term schedules.
- On Time: They should start on time. Consider penalties for those who are late—or, even better, awards for those who are on time! Make the penalties fun such as the last person brings coffee/doughnuts for everyone next time.
- Agenda: They should follow a published agenda. Good meetings follow a plan.
- Diverse: General staff meetings and specific meetings should both be held.
- Training: Training should be an integral part of the meeting. Go over a short training topic each week and add a larger topic one time each month.
- Atmosphere: Keep the meetings positive.
It is most important that you enable each employee to contribute to, and participate in, each meeting. Perhaps have someone different conduct the meeting each week. Unless your employees become interactive, the meetings will be a form of one-way communication and that runs contrary to the objective.