Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I’m your host, Ian Altman. Today’s episode is what makes a good or not good internal sales meeting. This is something that happens routinely in businesses around the world. They gather their sales reps together, either in the same meeting room or in a Zoom room, or in a team’s room, and they go through the different opportunities that each rep is facing. And there are good ways to do this, and not so good ways.
Let’s start with the biggest mistakes that I see.
Often, the meeting will start like this, hey, let’s go through your pipeline. So, Jim, we’re going to start with you. Here are the five deals I see right now in your CRM. Meaning within your customer relationship management software, we’re going to now have Jim read off all of the details that already exist inside of the CRM. Why do we do this? People can review this in advance. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to do that.
Then someone asked a question like, so what’s going on with this deal? Does this look like it’s going to come in next week, or do you need to push this thing off? And then, the meeting typically gets dominated by the most long-winded participant in the meeting. So, if there are ten reps, the meeting is scheduled for an hour, each person doesn’t spend six minutes. One person spends 25 minutes, and 35 minutes is left to split up between the other nine people. And the people who didn’t get covered or like, phew, I didn’t have to cover any of this stuff.
Then someone says, well, maybe if we offered a discount, or maybe we tell them that this is their last chance, that they have to buy next week or some crazy idea like that. And then we asked them about their activity. Meaning, how many phone calls did you make? How many meetings did you have? How many proposals did you send out? And that reminds me of a great routine by the comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Jeff Foxworthy is the guy who has that whole bit about “You might be a redneck if…” and he is a pretty funny guy. And Jeff Foxworthy has this routine where he talks about the idea of someone coming to collect payment for his car. And he’s like, I don’t have the money. And the guy says, look, man, you just need to give me a check. And the individual says, oh, check, you need to check? Oh, I thought you said you needed money because I can give you a check. So what happens is, we asked our reps, how many meetings did you have? How many phone calls? How many face-to-face appointments did you have? How many proposals? And it’s like, Oh, I thought you wanted us to grow our revenue? If you just want me to show activity, I can. So yeah, I had five lunches last week. Not one of them is going to become a client, but yes, I met with five people over lunch. And now all I’ve done is increase our expenses. Not what we want to do.
So what should we be doing in productive, effective internal sales meetings? Well, for starters, we want to focus on progress and accomplishments, not focusing on activity. Meaning we don’t want to say how many meetings did you have? How many appointments? This and that. Instead, we want to ask insightful questions. And let me give you a list of different questions that you can ask that might help drive better results inside your business.
So, for example, you might ask a question like, so this one opportunity? Why would that client choose us over somebody else? Because if you don’t know, the client isn’t going to know that either.
What happens if they do nothing? Because oftentimes, reps will be excited about a deal, but if the answer is, I don’t know what happens if they do nothing, the client may, in fact, choose that option.
Who isn’t involved who maybe needs to be? It could be people on your team or their team, but we start thinking about different people who need to be involved?
What would derail this deal that we haven’t talked about yet? So, that gets people to think about, in a risk-seeking mindset, what could go wrong in this opportunity, and how do we fix that?
Then we want to ask questions like, where are we weak in this opportunity? Is it our solution? Is it the relationships that we have? Is it our experience, the connections? We start asking questions about where we have opportunities, and then we ask the question like, so if they don’t go with us, who would they pick? Because we need to have a sense of who the alternatives are. That way, we can strategically deal with those opportunities as they come up.
The other thing that you should be doing each week when you have internal sales meetings is roleplay a specific part of the sales process. So, for example, you might say, we’re going to break into groups, and I want you to roleplay just the initial contact. Just what’s an initial outreach like? So if you’re somebody who’s making those outbound calls, what does that initial conversation sound like? And practice two or three times with each person. You might say, okay, so we’re going to roleplay a scenario where you’re trapped by procurements, and you’re dealing with a procurement person. You can’t reach the line of business. What is that going to sound like? Or gee, the client says they love what we’re doing, but our price is too high. How do we deal with that situation?
The idea is that we want to make it a learning experience. So what happens is, if you start asking these great questions during your meeting, your team is going to realize, oh, they’re going to ask this question, so I better be prepared next time. What we find is that the people who are asking these questions of their teams, their teams start getting the answers to those questions in advance. And those teams tend to outperform other teams because they actually get the information they need to help make deals happen.
So don’t focus on activity. Focus on accomplishments. Make sure you’re asking questions that give insight into real opportunities. Avoid focusing on metrics, like how many calls or meetings you had. Instead, track real progress. An make sure you have a learning opportunity in each session so people can practice real-world scenarios. And what’ll happen is you’ll hear one or two reps do it really well, and other people can model their behavior, and that’s how you raise the level of your entire team.
I look forward to seeing you on the next Same Side Selling Podcast. If you like this, please feel free to share it. Subscribe and share with your friends and colleagues. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover that you haven’t seen yet, just let me know. That’s where the ideas come from. See you next time on the Same Side Selling Podcast.