sales meeting

3 Key Considerations For Your Upcoming 2019 No-Budget Sales Meeting

When I meet with sales and learning leaders, I see them make two big assumptions. First, they think they know what their sales reps need. Second, they overestimate the real competency of their reps to do the basics.

But when you assume, you do something your parents told you not to do — so, don’t ass-u-me.  Instead, you should “Ask and Assess.” (That’s a lot of A’s and S’s).

How Should You “Ask?”

Depending on the size of your salesforce, just ask them: “Hey, our sales meeting is coming up in February 2019. What’s important to you?”

Bottom line: Do what fits your culture. This may be a free-form email or a survey. The point is to be able to stand up at the kickoff and start with a key phrase: “Because you asked and we listened.”

How Should You “Assess?”

Take a quick snapshot of your team’s capabilities.  Ideally, have each sales manager observe a few meetings or calls, and focus on the following categories: prospecting skills, meeting prep, intros, asking questions, making a recommendation, closing, territory and/or account management, and selling strategy.

As you assess, a scale of 1-3 to works best for grading skills and progress. It’s an easy way to have a data-driven approach of what to cover at your sales meeting.

With the results of the “Ask & Assess” approach, you’re better equipped to move forward with an actionable plan for achieving company goals, starting with the first quarter of 2019. So, now what should you do with your newfound knowledge? Consider these three truths:

Truth #1: Improving skills is very different from improving knowledge.

A sales rep’s behavior is a result of three elements: talent, skills, and knowledge.  Talent is hard to fix, but training can have a huge impact on skills and knowledge. However, an expensive sales meeting is NOT the ideal place to develop knowledge.

Knowledge is simply information, words and images, that should be shared electronically, reviewed by the learner, and then tested. Our tip? Do this before the meeting.  Taking valuable in-person time at a sales meeting to cover lots of slides with lots of info is not the best use of your company resources. Improving skills is a better utilization of time.  Spend time practicing introductions, presentations, and role plays. Make it fun and make it a competition.

One of our clients dramatically reduced their time to quota for new reps by focusing on training on the “impact zone” and how they interacted with customers. Focus your time on the fundamentals of one-to-one selling.  Your customers are overwhelmed with information and bad attempts to get their attention. They are emotionally closed and unreceptive. And the harder you “pull the rope”, the harder they will resist. Instead, Drop the Rope® and watch them become more receptive.

Truth #2: Ignoring the ‘vacation’ effect reduces the impact.

You’ve probably felt the lasting impact of 3-day, 7-day and 14-day vacations.  It takes a day or two to settle down once you leave, and your brain starts to crank back up a day or two before you return, guessing what your inbox number will be. To reset, your brain requires real time, not just a long weekend.  Those are OK, but you need a 1-2-week vacation as well.

The same goes for training. The best training necessitates that the rep takes a step back, re-evaluates their approach and works on making changes that will have an impact. When you only put a 2-4-hour block of time on the agenda for training, it’s hard for the learner to get in the zone.  Instead, we suggest a 1-day minimum for training, with two being better if you are going to be serious about prep, reflection, best practices, and include time for practice.

Truth #3: The “forgetting curve” is steep, but easy to avoid.

According to the forgetting curve, you’ve lost more than 80% of what you’ve learned by Day 7 if you aren’t actively using or reviewing it. So how do you combat the stats? The best way to do this is to have each rep send their manager a note including what actions they are going to commit to after the meeting.  Good managers will check in and see how they are doing, as well as help and encourage each rep to continue.

Think of this like working out with a partner each morning. Why do you work out with a partner? Because initially getting up and getting dressed in the morning is motivated by your partner waiting for you. But eventually, you get motivated by the pure realization of the benefits of exercise. We all need accountability to do the things we know we need to do but don’t want to do, so hold yourself, and your team, accountable. Check in with everyone. Share success stories. Use some type of simple app like QStream  to give reps a reason to look back at their notes and answer a few questions.  Give reps the opportunities to apply what they learned. The point is to not let them forget what they’ve learned, and doing even something very small and simple can be very effective.

Even though the meeting is on the books, I hope you’re finding some time for fun. Don’t start before 8 am.  Get some bacon and eggs for breakfast (it reduces hangover time!). And if you actually have some budget but lack other resources, we can help.  Let us know, and good luck with your meeting.

As President of ASLAN, Marc is responsible for all day-to-day operations including our sales and marketing efforts and growing our success in helping our clients be Other-Centered®.

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