Calvin is a sales director leading a team of sales professionals. He is an advocate of training and enrolled his team in my four-day sales training programme.

He wants his team to be more proactive in prospecting and looking for opportunities.

During the sales training programme, the team members shared their common sales challenges, best practices and success stories for the first time (some had been there 10 years) and learnt as much from one another as they did from me.

They told me how their attempts at being proactive were at times met with micro-management by their sales director.

How could the sales training programme be successful if Calvin’s team returns to an environment that doesn’t support what they have learnt?

Their day-to-day environment must support their learning so that their new behaviours become habits. These new behaviours must become habits in order for sales to improve.

Despite that, what do many leaders do when sales don’t improve after training? Send the team for more training!

So what could Calvin (and you, as a sales leader) do to ensure the team consistently adopts desired selling behaviours?

After the sales training programme, I suggested to Calvin to call a team meeting and ask each member to share his biggest takeaway and the action he will now take.

This would reinforce their learning and increase the likelihood of follow-through on actions.

I also asked Calvin to hold regular sales meetings.

Some dos and don’ts for sales meetings 

DoS

Don’tS

Have structured agendas and respect people’s time. Keep it short. Start on time and end early.

Have unstructured meetings and waste people’s time. Keep it long. Start late and finish late.

Keep it interesting and mix things up. Your staff won’t want to miss this!

Keep the same old boring routine. Why should they attend this?

Recognise your team’s accomplishments and celebrate its wins.

Recognise failures and highlight its defeats.

Encourage discussion and sharing of best practices.

Encourage withholding of information and creation of silos.

Have actionable takeaways. They know what to do next.

No actionable takeaways. What should they do next?

Tips on running a great sales meeting

• Sharing

Your team is looking to you for guidance, direction and leadership. Share your “big picture” strategies, priorities, targets and KPIs (key performance indicators) with the team. As a sales leader, you should only focus on the “what” (vision and objectives).

• Execution

Leave the “how” (tactics and implementation) to your sales team. Focus on what actions they will take by the next meeting.

How will they keep sales opportunities moving forward? Each team member should share at least one takeaway and action they will take now. 

• Listening

Listen more and talk less.  Sales meetings should not become sales training programmes, product knowledge training sessions or reviews of what has happened since the last meeting.

Put away the PowerPoint. Instead, ask questions and stimulate discussions of real-life selling situations.

• Learning

Ask team members to share specific sales challenges (closing, gatekeepers, objections and so on).

Encourage members to share tips that have worked for them and could be useful to the group.

Ask them to share the latest sales book they read, audio they heard or video they watched, and what was their biggest takeaway.

When I work with sales directors like Calvin, I encourage them to have regular sales meetings so the team can plan its schedules around those dates.

What if they are travelling? No excuse. They can join the meeting via conference call to contribute and learn.

Make these meetings a habit. Lead by example.

Have an agenda for each meeting and ask the team for its input. What would they like to focus on?

Your team members will be more engaged if they have contributed.

Be sure to circulate the agenda at least 24 hours prior so the team comes prepared. Remember to respect their schedules by starting on time and ending on time (maybe even early!).

Your ability to run great sales meetings will improve the return on your sales training investment and, ultimately, determine the success of your sales team.

If you are looking to build a high performance sales team, schedule a sales meeting with your team now.

Article by Tom Abbott, an international sales expert, author, coach, trainer and keynote speaker. He works with organisations worldwide to help them build high performance sales teams. E-mail him at prosper@sohosalescoaching.com or follow him on Twitter @sohosalescoach.