Why sales meetings suck and what to do about them
Most sales meetings I have sat in (and to be honest, that I used to run) are boring, repetitive, and ineffective. A key problem facing sales managers is the “spinning wheel”. Read here how to blitz the first meeting with your customer.
Spinning wheels are salespeople who go over the same opportunities at every weekly meeting, the same updates, customers still “doing red lines” on the contract, or some other holding pattern. Too much meeting time is sucked up pondering why last month’s hot opportunity is not so hot right now – instead of spending time discussing the next steps or activities that will move the sales team towards its sales goals.
To-Do lists for the sales team?
One of the unique aspects of sales culture is the creative avoidance that salespeople use to avoid basic task management. Task execution is a “ticket of entry” skill for executives in any area of the business.
In sales – not so much.
My experience of sales meetings is that discussions operate at a superficial “task highlights” level. That is, salespeople will share last week’s stories of one or two of their best meetings or a phone call with a C-Suite buyer. It’s all nice stuff but there is a gap here. Rarely, do you get the full picture of a salesperson’s week. You only hear the good news stories and you don’t get the full picture of what should be a productive, five-day, 40 hours week in sales.
Specifically, what did you plan to execute last week and…
- what did you get done?
- what did you start but couldn’t complete?
- what didn’t get started?
And finally, what are you planning to get done this week?
We are working to fill this gap here at SalesGRID and for our customers by implementing simple but effective Agile sales management practices. Learn how you can manage your sales knowledge base here.
Agile selling provides a better way to run sales meetings. To learn more about Agile selling, download a copy of our Agile selling intro guide here.
The Agile Sales Meeting
The go-to tool for Agile sales managers is the activity Kanban board. The Kanban board clearly shows all activities in the current sprint that are “To Be Done”, “Doing” or “Done”
This ridiculously simple visual aid is brilliant at cutting through sales team “BS”. It drives transparent discussions about the three things you need to know about and where your salespeople are actually up to in the current sprint:
- What they have actually done
- What they are currently doing
- What activities are still to do (or those important activities being put off )
The second high leverage tip here is to amplify sales teams’ focus by tying all activities to steps in the sales process. After all, if an activity can’t be easily assigned to a Step in the agreed sales process – why would a salesperson allocate time to it?
Sales meeting cadence
Agile sales methodology recognizes that the old ways aren’t working anymore. The weekly sales meetings lack urgency but are conversely too frequent for meaningful milestone reporting.
Recommended meeting cadences for the Agile sales manager are as follows:
1. The Daily Sales Stand Up
This is a 15-minute meeting where everyone is viewing the Sprint Kanban board. Each team member confirms the steps they completed yesterday (move to “Done”), calls out the Steps to be worked on today (“Doing”) and calls out any Steps that are stuck in “doing” from yesterday. This is an opportunity for the team to contribute any ideas or suggestions for how to progress the Step with the relevant customer opportunity.
Note that at this meeting, you do NOT review the opportunity Kanban board.
2. Bi-Weekly Sprint meeting retrospective
This meeting is held every 2nd week on the last day of the 14 day Sprint. The agenda is twofold: firstly, to review performance in the last Sprint in terms of Steps completed, conversion rates, and sales to target. The team discusses blockers and learnings which might help with performance in the next Sprint. Secondly, the meeting focuses on reviewing the Opportunity Kanban board, and then goals are set for the upcoming Sprint.
3. Sales process development and skills training
Run an extension of your daily stand-up as the opportunity for continuing education and development on the sales process. So often, about half of a sales team will consist of rookies (in their first year) – the opportunity to build fluency in the sales process and to develop skills should not be missed.
Agile software development released software engineers from the tyranny of waterfall and the bureaucratic meetings it spawned. Agile selling can do the same for salespeople.