Do you find weekly sales conference calls to be onerous, de-motivating, unfocused, and often a poor use of time? Unfortunately, this is more often the case than not. Here are tips based on our playing the interim sales exec role for a dozen or so technology clients. Would love to hear your perspective on what works too.
• Start and end on time – keep it to one hour a week maximum.
• Assign homework — send out an agenda in advance with homework assignments for the reps. Here are prep questions that always generate solid insights and best practices sharing:
- Describe a win since our last call. Why did we win?
- Describe a loss since our last call. Why did we lose?
- What is your strategy for upselling an existing customer?
- What objections are you running into the most and how do you handle them?
- What differentiators resonate the most with customers?
- What is the pain point that’s driving your customer’s purchase?
• Listen — most sales managers I’ve seen love to hear themselves talk. It’s far more effective to use these sales meetings to have the reps talk about their business. Yes, their business is the focus not you. Ask questions. Put people on the spot. Try to listen 90% of the time and keep your talking to 10%. Encourage discussion rather than asking for data you can get yourself from your SFA system.
• Be up beat – I’ve seen sales managers use sales conference calls to humiliate certain reps for under performing. This may appear to work in the short term but it only leads to rep turnover in the longer run. So keep the meeting up beat and focused on team productivity not on any one individual‘s performance problems. Reps don’t need to like you but they do need your encouragement and recognition.
• Use your SFA system – one of the most effective approaches is to use a tool like Go-to-Meeting or WebEx to share your screen as people talk about a specific opportunity. They will learn that they must have your sales force automation (SFA) system updated and ready each week.
• Invite marketing – have your field marketing team listen in and especially have them lead topics on competitive win/loss, value propositions, lead generation, differentiation, and objection handling.
• Maintain control – it’s easy to go down a rat hole if one rep decides to go on about a particular sales objection they run into or about the poor quality leads they are getting from marketing. Limit these rants. I like to acknowledge the issue and have the rep go offline with someone in marketing or product development and come back with a recommendation to the sales team. Make them solve the problem rather than you.
• Look at system issues – I’ve seen sales managers browbeat reps in sales meeting expecting to get better results from them. This never works. Instead, look deeper into the issue which might be frustrating you and the team. Is there a training/competency issue? Process gap? Missing sales tool? Lack of motivation and discipline? Compensation issue? Diagnose before you pound the table for better results.
Publish notes – sales managers almost never take notes and even more rarely send out action items from sales conference calls. What a missed opportunity to ensure good sales execution and follow through on commitments. Take notes. Publish right way then review briefly on the next sales conference call. This will build accountability too.