How to Run an Effective Sales Meeting
At their worst, sales meetings can feel like a boring group therapy session, an informal party or a pointless tradition. But these meetings, designed to motivate reps and forecast sales, are worth designing with the utmost care.
Sales people spend 12% of their time attending internal meetings. That equates to over 19 hours per month.
If your sales meetings feel draining, routine, or unmotivating, then not only are they wasting time, but they’re likely affecting reps’ performance and engagement throughout the remainder of the week.
In our guide, you’ll learn how to create a flexible template for your sales meetings to keep them fresh, ways to extract measurable value from these meetings, and troubleshooting tips for any issues you’ll encounter along the way.
Table of contents:
- Why you need to rethink your sales meetings
- The foundation of great sales meetings
- Ways to upgrade your sales meetings
- The weekly sales meeting agenda you can templatize
- The human side: collaborating, motivating, and engaging
- How to troubleshoot sales meetings
- Pipeline reviews: what they are and why you need them
Why You Need To Rethink Your Sales Meetings 🤔
A Gallup poll found that the most productive workers attend team meetings. That face-to-face camaraderie and recognition is powerful.
So even while meetings are important, they can also be a huge waste of time and negatively impact both company results and company culture.
No matter the type of meeting, the complaints are largely the same: some meetings are unnecessary, disorganized, or just too dang long.
The worst type of meeting glosses over real business issues or concerns, and instead blazes forward with an agenda that has everyone rolling their eyes. Pointless.
Common Problems with Sales Meetings
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s time for an upgrade.
- Stuck in a rut: Hosted by the same person, repetitive agenda, nothing to switch it up.
- Not engaging: The content or structure of the meeting isn’t designed to get active participation from everyone.
- Too long: Sometimes a sales meeting can start off right, but it goes on for so long that it becomes demotivating and draining.
- One-sided: Sales representatives feel that the meeting exists to push them to meet their goals, instead of supporting them, so they stop bringing up real issues and stop engaging.
Here’s an unsurprising stat: 91% of meeting attendees spend part of their meeting time daydreaming while 73% occasionally find a way to get other work done while they’re supposed to be paying attention.
In order to set your sales meetings on the right track, you need a strong foundation.
The Foundation Of Great Sales Meetings
What, then makes for a successful sales meeting?
“My goal is to bring in a guest speaker from another part of the business two times a month to drive a cross functional mindset. I think it’s important to interact with our colleagues in other parts of our business so that we can learn what’s going on in their world and understand how we all connect to the larger company mission.
From there we will have our marketing team discuss all of their current projects, which keeps the enthusiasm high. Transparency into the health of our business is important so we review team KPIs from the prior week – and benchmark our pace. Our “SDR Corner” allows a venue for that team to discuss their progress. We will then run through updates, travel plans and finally end with housekeeping. Anything that gets the team talking (what’s working, trip/meeting/deal recaps, etc.) ensures that we capture and sustain the attention of everyone.” – Jon Parisi, Director of Sales at Zuora
Every sales team meeting should incorporate the following:
- A set structure: Even though the agenda should change, the overall structure should follow a set template for most meetings, because this helps everyone feel more productive and prepared.
- Tips on how to close more deals: Rather than just hit your sales team over the head with the fact that they need to meet their metrics, provide them with tips and resources that will help them. Remember, your goals are shared.
- Participation from each attendee: Each meeting should incorporate a way to engage every rep. This can be done in the stand-up format, where every rep shares a recent win, an update, an obstacle, or maybe all three. (Plus, we all know that office workers need to stand up more).
- Unique or special participation: In addition to the quick moment that each attendee spends talking, there should be some sort of special participation that requires more time and thought input from a few people. Maybe two reps role play, or one rep shares their process for gaining referrals and introductions. Make sure it’s not always the same people in the spotlight (or the hot seat).
- Something unexpected: You might struggle to shock and awe your sales team every single week, but it’s a great goal to think of ways you can keep your team meeting interesting. You can pull from some of the sales meeting ideas below. The point here is to keep your team on their toes, and paying attention.
Ways To Upgrade Your Sales Meetings 📊
Here’s a quote you probably want to avoid: “A meeting is an event at which minutes are kept and hours are lost.”
We don’t want you, or your sales team, to ever feel that way. These topics, ideas, themes, and games will help.
Meeting Topics to Cover
If you’re not already covering these sales meeting topics, consider incorporating them in your next few meetings.
- Teach modern sales (plus how modern sales and marketing interact): The old way of selling is business centric, and the new way is customer centric. Cover ways to implement this in reality, such as how to utilize sales enable content, how to personalize the experience, how to reduce the amount of time you expect prospects to give you, etc.
- Brainstorming and discussing new tactics: While the above falls more into the training category, this topic idea is more in the strategizing category. Here are some example sales meeting topics: new targeting criteria for prospects, scaling an outbound strategy that performed well in an experiment, brainstorming as a team new ways to revamp cold email scripts, sharing tips for succeeding with video in prospecting emails.
- Share wins: Whether you have every team member share a recent win or you ask people to share only if they have really big wins, this is for sure: wins are highly motivating. Make sure to have the sharer break down what went into closing the deal, so other reps can learn how to replicate the story. While some topics might rotate, celebrating should always be a weekly sales meeting topic.
- Go over prospect feedback: Share what prospects are saying with the whole team. Ask everyone to share the important pieces of feedback they’ve been hearing from prospects (whether positive or negative). You can also ask everyone to submit their feedback in advance of the meeting, and then you can read off the trends and important notes. You could also take a poll to find out what sort of feedback your sales team is hearing most frequently. Also pay attention to what competitors leads are choosing.
- Talk about marketing campaigns you can help with: Is there a big webinar coming up? Maybe a co-branded survey? Make sure that your sales team knows what they can do to either share posts from the marketing team, or help existing posts get more organic reach. Even if your company uses some sort of employee advocacy platform, you can still highlight any big campaigns during your meeting.
- Discuss competitor targeting and USPs: Every great sales team should already have a competitive research matrix (a spreadsheet where your competitors are the columns and every detail you’d ever want to track is a row: their estimated annual revenue, their funding, number of customers, number of offices and/or employees, and a scorecard for how well they serve various segments of your target audience). Your sales meeting is not the time that you go into those nitty gritty details.That research should already be done and widely available for all team members. During the meeting is when you discuss any changes. Do your competitors appear to be going upmarket? Are they targeting a new persona that your company hasn’t tested yet? Are they slyly attacking your company with a new USP spread all over their website and social media?
- Review team and company goals: How you go over goals depends largely on company culture and the energy you want to cultivate during your sales meetings. To spark friendly competition, you can review your leader board. Or, if you’d rather keep the energy more collaborative, go over current progress on team and company goals without diving into individual performance, which can be discussed during 1-to-1s.
- Solving problems and clearing blocks: What issues is your team currently facing? Maybe a prospect who seemed ready to convert has all of the sudden gone dark and a representative needs advice on how to re-engage them. Maybe marketing leads are falling through the cracks due to tracking issues, or a new market is proving more challenging than expected. While you won’t be able to solve every problem during your weekly meeting, make sure you bring them all to light.
16 Fresh Sales Meeting Ideas To Try in 2020 💡
Here are some sales meeting ideas that can keep your team engaged, while also helping them become even better at their jobs.
- Bring in a guest speaker from outside your company: This person could be a subject matter expert in the industry or role that your customers work in, or they could be a sales expert with experience selling to the same target customer.
- Bring in a guest speaker from inside your company: There’s so much knowledge about your customers inside of your company! Hear from marketers, customer service representatives, UX researchers, and others.
- Bring in a customer: You have a few fanatical customers, right? Why not treat them to a two-night stay in your city and bring them in as a special guest for a sales meeting? Don’t make them stand up and give a speech, just ask them to field some questions from your team.
- Role-play: The fact is that most sales reps don’t take role-playing seriously enough or do it often enough. Watch two people role-play, or break the group up into pairs to roleplay silently, which causes less pressure and awkward laughing for everyone involved.
- Break out into groups: There are a lot of things that your sales team can do in groups of three or more. They can brainstorm new sales tactics and present them to everyone after the breakout or share their wins in groups to save time. You can also hold contests or games that involve some group activities.
- Share lessons learned the hard way: We all make mistakes. Let your sales team share (without hesitation) some recent fails or maybe even some overarching lessons that they’ve learned during their careers.
- Don’t sit down the whole time (or at all): This is one sales meeting idea that you absolutely have to try next week: don’t sit the whole time. Have everyone stand up when sharing wins and obstacles. Also, if you’re the presenter, you can move around the room instead of standing in the same place while you talk.
- Try an off-site: You probably hold your sales meeting in the same place every week. Maybe once or twice a quarter, you try your best to get out of the office. Your sales meeting could take place in a park, at a restaurant, or some other small event space.
- Add a pre-meeting activity: To get your reps engaged with the meeting before they even arrive, give them something to do beforehand, such as fill out a survey or form with recent prospect feedback or their current challenges, suggestions, or concerns. Or you could ask an icebreaker question to get people comfortable before diving into the agenda.
- Assign some post-meeting homework: Ask your reps to do post-meeting homework that is high on value but low on time. This could be something simple like watching a recent customer testimonial video that your marketing team just published or something more in-depth like comment on 20 of their lead’s recent LinkedIn posts.
- Brainstorm new sales tactics: Things change. Is your company really using the sales tactics that work today? Take some time to brainstorm all of the outbound and sales demo tactics that your team could be using but isn’t.
- Discuss industry events: When you send reps off to a conference, ask them to share their experience with the team. Even for industry events you don’t attend, you can still discuss keynote speakers, topics, sponsors, etc. to make sure everyone stays current.
- Share takeaways from an ebook, webinar, or blog post: Your sales reps don’t have time to consume all of the content put out by your marketing team or your competitors’ marketing teams.Each week, you can assign one person to share a few things they learned from content aimed at helping your target customers solve the same pain point that your product or service solves.
- Share customer stories and struggles: Move beyond feedback on your company’s offering and discuss some of the more interesting, more emotional stories that you’ve heard customers tell lately. This will deepen everyone’s capacity for empathy and understanding.
- Offer unexpected rewards and recognition: Isn’t it great when you receive a gift you weren’t expecting? When your team has consistently been meeting goals or collaborating to help one another out or anything else that impresses you, recognize their work verbally and maybe give them a gift certificate for a local restaurant.
- Share an upcoming incentive program: You can also use your weekly sales meeting to announce any upcoming incentive programs, and explain the rules. Keep in mind that these programs are best used to foster collaboration (instead of creating an unhealthy level of competition), so set the rules accordingly.
Sales Meeting Themes 👻
Sales meeting themes are a smart way to provide cohesion to the topics and ideas above. You can make every meeting themed, or just have a theme for the first or last meeting of the month.
The point of the theme is to provide ongoing training and support on top of your initial sales rep onboarding, but of course there will be some areas of your agenda (such as wins and blocks) that will stray from the theme, and that’s fine.
Here are a few sales meeting themes you can steal for your next weekly meeting:
- Common objections
- Leads going dark
- Referrals and introductions
- Pipeline optimization
- Sales enablement content
- Customers’ different buying styles
- Being persistent but polite
- Staying on message and on-brand
- Customer pain points
- Customer outcomes
For more inspiration for themes, consider what concerns or struggles your reps bring up throughout the month. Most likely, other reps are experiencing similar problems.
To game or not to game?
Are sales meeting games cheesy and pointless, or are they a legitimate way to motivate and train your team? Well, that depends – and not just on the game itself but on your company culture and the personality types of the people on your team.
But for the most part, games can be a good way to switch up your meeting and keep everyone on their toes.
They also serve as a good reminder of how important it is to enjoy your work. Research says that companies who have fun at work enjoy increased employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
- Roleplaying with a competitive twist: Separate your team into partners and give everyone the same roleplay scenario. Vote on the best duo. You can also role-play as teams, where one person is the sales rep and the other two are the leads on a group call (one can be highly interested in the offer, and the other is a hard no). How will your sales reps win that person over?
- Beat the team’s metrics: For a team game, try to beat your previous metrics for appointments, calls, dials, emails, closed deals etc. Depending on what makes sense for your company, you can compare your numbers with the previous week, or with the same week last year. (Or make this a monthly game, instead of weekly, with the goal being higher numbers each month.) Keep track of wins towards a big team prize, such as incentive travel or a cash bonus.
- Gross profit contest: Sometimes, reps can get too focused on winning the biggest deals, which might not be more profitable than several medium-sized deals. Draw a grid on a whiteboard to track monthly gross profit for each rep, not just deal size. Give special prizes to the winners, and help reps see that sometimes deal size isn’t everything.
- Talk to strangers: This sales meeting game might sound like something from a PG-rated bachelorette party, but bare with us here, because it’s actually a great way to liven up your off-site meetings. Simply have your reps ask strangers questions, such as their favorite quote, rhyme, or song. Or to take a selfie with them. Just keep it polite and not creepy. The point is to help reps gain confidence when sparking conversations with prospects, not to scar anyone for life.
- Story time: Messages that are delivered as stories are 22X more memorable than facts. Can you turn your company’s product or service into some sort of metaphor? What simple, well-known object or life experience can help prospects better understand what your company does? Create a contest where reps get one to two minutes to start off a conversation with a quick anecdote that will draw listeners in while more easily explaining how your company can help solve a similar problem.
“A quick two-minute exercise that I recommend for any sales team is to get everyone to write down your company’s value proposition. Then have each person swap their writeup with a partner, who will scratch out any unnecessary sentences, buzzwords, industry jargon, and long businessy words. What I’ve found is that sales teams tend to really overcomplicate their company’s value proposition. Simple is better. Doing this exercise can get your entire customer-facing team on the same page.” – Scott Barker, Head of Partnerships at Sales Hacker
There are so many high-value exercises that you can do to. Gamify them by having everyone vote on the best roleplay, value proposition, etc. Give a prize to the winner or winning team.
Sales Meeting Tools and Technology 🧰
The right technology can have a huge impact on the success of your sales meetings. Check out these possible solutions for tracking agendas, polling attendees, etc.
- Brandlive: Live video capture and archiving, moderated chat feed, quizzes, surveys, and polls, slideshows and tabs for posting agendas and other content
- Slido: Polling in-person meeting attendees, quizzes and games, team brainstorming, employee recognition features
- Clickmeeting: Whiteboard, agenda posting, moderated chat, and features for polls and quizzes
- Dropbox Paper: Great tool for brainstorming, decision-making, note-taking, and agenda tracking during in-person meetings
Weekly Sales Meeting Agenda Template
To be truly motivating, your weekly sales meeting agenda should focus on what your team is doing well, make it clear where there’s room for improvement, and provide actionable advice to help them reach their goals.
Below is a sample agenda. Just plug in your favorite topics, themes, and ideas into this structure to keep your sales meeting both organized and engaging.
Sales Meeting Structure & Flow ♻️
You should be able to keep this meeting between 40 and 60 minutes long. In order to kick off a great week, many sales teams prefer to hold these meetings on Mondays.
- Celebration (5-10 minutes): Have everyone share recent wins stand-up style, or have one rep announce the top wins from the team and recognize each individual (wins would have already been submitted in a pre-meeting intake form or discovered in your KPI system).
- Goals and Forecast (5-15 minutes): The sales manager or team lead will then review goal progress as a team. This can be broken down into weekly, monthly, and quarterly goal progress not only for deal size and revenue but also appointments, emails sent, or other metrics. Additionally, you might want to have each sales rep give a quick review of their sales forecast, including the deals closed last week, what deals they expect to close this week, and the progress of individual deals in their pipeline.
- Game or Contest (10-15 minutes): Choose from one of the above short games or exercises or review the status of an ongoing contest with team-based or individual-based incentivization.
- Training (10-15 minutes): Add an element of training to help reps feel supported in meeting their goals. This could be in the form of a team exercise or a quick talk given by a guest speaker, subject matter expert, or sales leader offering up hard-earned lessons or advice. You can also use this time to brainstorm new sales tactics as a team.
- Problem Solving (5-15 minutes): This is when you go over what’s blocking your team. Have everyone share their blocks stand-up style, or ask reps to raise their hand and share if needed. Make sure to immediately address each issue. If it’s a quick question or resource need, fix it in the moment. If it’s more in-depth, chat after the meeting and agree on the next steps required to fix it.
- Take Action (5-10 minutes): In the problem-solving section, you’ll of course take action to remove blocks and barriers. This part of the meeting is different. This is when you review the actions that everyone can take in order to put the meeting into place. The format can be like this: have everyone go around and share two or three actions they will take that day or that week based on what was discussed. And/or the sales manager can list recommended actions for the entire team.
The Emotional Flow
Now let’s take a look at the exact same agenda, but from the emotional side of a rep participating in the meeting. It’s so important to consider the emotional effect of your meeting’s structure. Really, we can’t overstate this.
- Celebration: Talk about what’s working, and feel great about it
- Goals and Forecast: Honest review of team and individual progress, get prepped for the week ahead
- Game or Contest: Get re-energized and motivated to achieve goals
- Training: Feel supported and optimistic about meeting goals
- Problem-Solving: Fix any issues holding me back
- Action-Taking: Immediately put the meeting into effect
If you don’t want to use the exact structure above, take a moment to consider the emotional flow of your meeting agenda and rearrange where necessary. The meeting should energize your team and inspire forward motion.
The Human Side: Collaborating, Motivating & Engaging 👫
At every step of the way, your meeting should seek to engage reps. Even though we’ve sprinkled elements of collaboration, motivation, and engagement throughout each idea, these things are so crucial to the success of your meeting that they’re worth mentioning separately too.
Remember: your sales meeting can drain reps or make them feel ready to tackle their goals.
Collaboration that Feels Meaningful and Important
With games, contests, and exercises, pay attention to the responses of your reps. If you’re constantly getting groans and protests, don’t resort to blaming the reps for being lazy. Revisit the activities that you’re using in your meetings and take an anonymous poll or open-answer survey of your team so you can find out where the meetings have gone wrong.
To be truly useful, the sales games you play should not only enliven your team but increase their sales skills.
If your team thinks the games or exercises are a waste of time, work together to brainstorm ways to make them more realistic and useful.
How to Engage your Sales Team Before, During, and After your Meetings
As mentioned in our idea section, it’s smart to include activities that your team can do before and after meetings, such as giving their input on a topic, attending an industry webinar, or reading and summarzing a relevant book.
A meeting that spreads into the rest of the week is just another way to ground your meeting in reality. It shouldn’t be some random, routine way to waste time, but something that affects the entire rest of the week.
Also remember that how you deal with the problems and obstacles mentioned during the meeting relates to how you handle them outside of the meeting. If you gloss over blocks, reps might not come to you outside of meetings to discuss problems because they won’t see you as helpful.
However, if you put them on blast for issues during meetings, they might prefer to discuss their issues in private.
Just pay attention to the connection between the problem-solving section of your meeting and how comfortable reps feel bringing issues to your attention throughout the rest of the week.
4 Ways to Turn Sales Meetings into Real Motivation 🚀
If you follow all of the above tips and overhaul your meeting structure, will your sales meetings really motivate your reps?
If you’re still unconvinced, or you want to go all in on super motivating meetings, try these additional tips:
- Incorporate your company mission: Your sales team believes in your company mission, right? (We hope so.) Find ways to incorporate your company mission into your meeting, whether that changes the theme or prizes for the games, or comes into play with your discussions of the industry and how your company is changing it for the better.
- Visualize the positive ripple effect of your personal success: Don’t shame the woo woo stuff until you’ve tried it yourself. Take three minutes of your meeting to invite everyone to close their eyes and walk them through a guided visualization: have them imagine that they meet their sales goals, then they exceed them. Have them imagine how the increased commission they earn impacts their lives, their families’ lives, and their community. How does that positive effect keep spreading?
- Visualize the positive ripple effect of your customers’ successes: Similarly, ask your reps to imagine this ripple effect, but in your customers’ lives. Instead of having this be a silent exercise, it can be a brainstorm that you do outloud. Write down answers on a whiteboard. With your solution in place and the customers’ problem solved, what can they do? What can they take on with the time or money savings you provide? How does this impact their stress level and other aspects of their personal lives?
- Make the Take Action section of the meeting super specific: And finally, the best ways to make your sales meetings motivational is to make them so helpful for reps that they look forward to them. These meetings should be a place where reps come to get clear and focused.One way to do this is to really maximize the impact of the final section in the agenda structure outlined above. Everyone should know exactly what next steps they need to take after the meeting to make their week a success, so that no matter what state they walked into the meeting, they leave it ready for a great week.
Following the above tactics will make sure that your meetings are not only motivational but that they also translate into measurable business value.
How To Troubleshoot Sales Meetings 🧩
Trouble? If you’re experiencing any of these common problems with weekly sales meetings, try these solutions for a quick (and lasting) fix.
Problem: Team members who aren’t engaged
- More participation for everyone (stand-up style wins or take turns being the one to share a lesson or give takeaways on a book or webinar).
- Implement games, contests, or exercises that more closely reflect sales skills, not generic team-building.
Problem: Not meeting sales goals
- Discuss as a team how realistic your sales goals are, and make this an opportunity to show the team that anything and everything is up for discussion.
- Improve the Training portion of the meeting: bring in more sales leaders to give your team new tactics and strategies for outreach and appointments.
- Improve the Take Action portion of the meeting: make sure that reps are stating specific actions they need to take that day and that week, take notes on their promises, and check-in midweek to follow up with them (the point here isn’t to micromanage, it’s to help them better diagnose the actions they need to take with every deal in their pipeline).
Problem: Pipeline or execution issues
- Hold separate sales pipeline review meetings so you can address larger issues (and save your main sales meeting for sales forecasting and motivational exercises).
- Dedicate additional time and resources to fixing gaps and leaks so your team isn’t continually demotivated by bad processes.
Of course, the biggest problem of all is just keeping sales meetings on track.
Make sure that your meetings meet their core goals: to motivate your team, increase their skills, review progress, and inspire focused action. Anything else needs to be handled separately.
Pipeline Reviews: What They Are & Why You Need Them 📉
Up until now, we’ve talked about standard weekly sales meetings that motivate reps and forecast sales.
However, there is another type of meeting that you should schedule with your sales team: the pipeline review.
Pipeline reviews typically refer to an individual review with each member of the sales team, wherein you work together to accurately forecast the closing quota for what’s in the pipeline.
With these types of meetings, a sales manager and sales rep should aim to verify the status of leads in each buying stage, instead of guessing or assuming. There should be specific criteria that leads must satisfy to move to the next buying stage, as well as ways to gauge a lead’s likelihood for progressing further down the cycle.
The phrase “pipeline review” can less commonly be used for a meeting wherein you discuss the overall pipeline: whether enough leads are coming into the top of the pipeline, more quantifiable ways to designate a lead at each buying stage, the process for dropping and re-engaging dead leads, etc.
Whatever you call either one of these meetings, you need both of them in addition to your weekly sales meeting. With one, you help sales reps become more accurate forecasters and coach them in moving leads down the sales cycle. With the other meeting, you make sure that your pipeline itself is in good health.
Weekly sales meetings should…
- Strike the right balance between structured and unexpected
- Provide reps with clear next steps for the week ahead
- Reinforce sales leaders as open and collaborative
- Motivate reps with a smart meeting structure
- Serve as a place to voice individual and team problems
- Include elements of celebration, recognition, and positive visualization
Keeping this quote in mind won’t hurt either: “Beware of monotony; it’s the mother of all deadly sins.” – Edith Wharton