The annual sales meeting is necessary to set the right tone for your sales force for the upcoming year. It’s not often that you can get the entire sales team together in one place so use your time wisely in order to have the most productive and effective meeting possible.
Oftentimes the meeting’s goals are unclear — it can appear as if someone is trying to fill time slots so that everyone is occupied for a few hours, but with no clear message or desired outcome.
While the meeting may have several goals and objectives, it is critical to determine which of the many objectives are reachable in a reasonable amount of time.
Here is what we consider to be most important to cover in your annual sales meeting.
Always Start with a Positive in Meetings
Oftentimes annual sales meetings start off with the negative. What went wrong, who didn’t achieve their sales targets and the like. It makes sense that this would be brought up but putting too much focus on this at the start of the meeting will demotivate the team and put a negative spin on a meeting that should be uplifting and insightful.
Instead, try starting off your meeting on a positive note. Talk about your team’s success and praise them for the hard work they’ve done. Acknowledging this will motivate your team to keep up the good work.
The key here is setting the right tone at the beginning. After all, people make mistakes and sometimes deals fall through. Mistakes give us opportunities to learn and grow. Ask your team to make a list of 3 mistakes they make most often so that they remember them and try to avoid them in the future. Having everyone share their mistakes with others will hopefully prevent their colleagues from making them in the future and will promote teamwork and collaboration.
Updates on the Pipeline
A successful pipeline update should give employees ideas and motivation on how to move their deals ahead. Productive pipeline updates are at the heart of accurate business forecasting so it is important to get them right.
Ask your sales reps to give you a summary of their deals to bring you up to date.
The summary should include:
- What’s happened so far?
- What are the next steps?
- What needs to happen to close the deal?
- What’s the anticipated timeline?
This summary will help you identify what challenges they are dealing with and you’ll be able to advise them on how to overcome these issues. Try to understand whether there are gaps in communication or missing information and what is preventing your sales rep from moving this deal along.
After this, lay out an action plan of what the next steps should be in order to move the deal along the pipeline. You need to decide for yourself whether the sales rep really understands the prospect well enough to control the process and close the deal.
Obstacles and Roadblocks
Not every sales organization or salesperson is made equal. While some people continuously achieve their goals, others are always chasing after them or playing catch-up. While you are ultimately accountable for the success of your team, there are a number of company-wide obstacles that could be holding back sales performance. To break down these barriers, cross-departmental collaboration is crucial, particularly between sales and marketing.
There are a number of roadblocks on the path to success, such as spending too much time with prospects who will never buy, or failing to get firm commitments from buyers – just to name a few.
As a skilled sales lead, you will be able to help your team members overcome obstacles as long as they are aware of these challenges and are open and honest with you in their communication about these issues.
Attempt to remove roadblocks to success, even if this means making changes to your sales process or approach. Create feedback loops that encourage your team to discuss how they can improve their collaboration and support for one another.
Ultimately, sales and marketing teams should be working together. Marketers and sellers have different skill sets that can complement, rather than compete with, each other’s activities. Use their experience to create a unified approach to lead scoring and client acquisition that is based on strategy.
Share Prospect Insights
Your sales team is at the front line when it comes to receiving feedback on the business. Make hearing this feedback a priority.
Set out the updates you’d like to know from your team ahead of time so that when the annual sales meeting comes around, they’ll have all the required updates ready to share. Find out what they’re saying about your value proposition, company and sales pitches. Have your team document this in order to be able to look back at it later.
One great way to do this is by using Notiv. Notiv records, transcribes and summarizes your meetings with action points and decisions made. You can also share the recording and transcript with those who were unable to attend the meeting or people who need to be in the know. You can also search for a specific word or phrase in the transcript, to avoid having to sit through hours of recordings to remember one small detail. To find out more about what Notiv can do for your sales team, click here.
Make sure to cover sales metrics at every meeting, especially during the annual meeting. This is crucial because they are directly tied to your team’s core goals.
Find out how your team is tracking towards weekly, monthly or quarterly targets. Prepare an overview of how everyone’s performance is on the four or five metrics you have identified as vital to their evaluation.
Avoid calling out individual accomplishments here; instead, give the team an idea of
Getting people to talk about what they are doing and what is working for them is an excellent way for the sales team to collaborate with and learn from one another.
Share Organizational Information
Bringing the entire sales team together is a great opportunity to share information on new products and services, industry trends, competitor updates, and other corporate communications.
Explain the thought process behind any changes and show how the team can benefit from them. This shows that you view your employees as partners who are committed to the success of the company.
Employees understand that changes will happen in the organization, but it is difficult to recover from a lack of transparency. Make sure to keep your team informed throughout any transition processes. Announce new policies, exits, or other important news as soon as possible to avoid rumors spreading.
Being up to date with what your competitors are doing will help you better respond to threats to your business. Additionally, having an idea of
Assign one or two competitors to each salesperson. Then, as time passes, have them report on what they’ve learned about the competitor’s offers, products and prices, as well as any news or changes at their company. Then, have the team come up with a plan of action.
Another suggestion is to allocate one competitor to the entire group and set aside time each week to examine that company in detail. You can look at their business strategy, projected unique selling proposition, marketing efforts, and even how they target their areas to come up with counter-strategies.
Hubspot recommends asking the following questions when doing your analysis:
- What channels are they selling through?
- What does the sales process look like?
- Do they have multiple locations and how does this give them an advantage?
- Are they expanding? Scaling down?
- Do they have partner reselling programs?
- What are their customers’ reasons for not buying? For ending their relationship with the company?
- What are their revenues each year? What about total sales volume?
- Do they regularly discount their products or services?
- How involved is a salesperson in the process?
These questions should provide a framework for your sales team to understand your strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your competitors’. When the competition is fierce, identifying your competitors and knowing where you may differentiate removes the pressure to lower prices.
Pitch Round Table
Leave some extra time in your meeting for either one person, or a few individuals, to give their best 5 minute pitch in front of the others. Then go around the room and gather feedback and ideas. Are there inconsistencies in the pitches? Could some of the closing tone phrases be more actionable? This is your opportunity to refine, lead and refine again.
The key here is that your entire team receives some practical advice that can help them be successful in a training environment. The collaborative nature of this activity will help everyone take the best tips and tricks from one another to improve their pitch.
Sales meetings don’t have to be a dreaded necessity. They are there for you to give and get updates and inspire your team to keep up the good work. You want your salespeople to be focused on potential customers. Annual sales meetings are a way to refocus them on what matters and help everyone stay productive.
When planned and communicated properly, they provide an opportunity for your sales reps to grow and improve.
To find out more about how Notiv can boost your sales team’s productivity, click here.