Nearly all businesses rely on meetings as an essential component of their operations. Low-level meetings are for disseminating information and delegating work. High-level meetings usually involve discussing company direction and long-term goals. Then there are other miscellaneous meetings that fill in the gaps.
You’ll hear many opinions on meetings depending on who you talk to, but most of them are negative. Dilbert cartoons poke fun at how painful and soul-sucking meetings are. Even business titans like Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, and Jeff Bezos find most meetings to be a huge productivity killer and a waste of time.
Are they right?
On some level, probably. However, it depends greatly on the content and purpose of those meetings. If meetings involve unnecessary people, wander off topic, or discuss content that could easily be shared via email or Slack, then yes, they likely are a drain on resources and time.
On the other hand, if you’re meeting with your team to train them as a group, you’ll find that meetings can have a tremendous return-on-investment (ROI).
With that in mind, here are seven sales training ideas that’ll level up the value and ROI of your next sales meeting.
At conferences, on the phone, or when networking, sales reps typically have a short window to make an impression, so they’ve got to make it count. Perfecting a short elevator pitch or 30-second commercial can have a massive effect on results. Here is best-selling author and venture capitalist Sean Wise’s take on the proper criteria for an elevator pitch:
Within your training session, work together to come up with a universal elevator pitch. In practice, you may want to allow team members some creative freedom to let their personalities shine through, though you’ll still want enough alignment that there isn’t much deviation across your sales team.
Once your team has agreed on a core pitch, practice giving it to each other, looking for language that feels clunky or opportunities that exist to hone the message even further. If you have access to call recordings, listen to them as a group to see which messaging elements different types of customers respond best to.
For best results, schedule a second session 2-4 weeks later to review any lessons that have come out of using the team’s chosen elevator pitch.
The Selling Through Curiosity (STC) concept has made the rounds to big business and startups alike. For some, it may seem like a new concept, but in reality, it’s a repackaged Socratic method that originated in the 5th century BC.
On a deeper level, STC is engaging in a cooperative dialogue between individuals in which salespeople ask questions to draw out ideas, stimulate critical thinking, and hopefully determine underlying presuppositions. On a simpler level, they’re learning to ask questions in a specific way to determine prospects’ problems, fears, short-term goals, and long-term ambitions.
It’s about being curious. It may sound easy, but the tricky part is finding the right balance between conversational and genuine. It shouldn’t feel like an interview – it should feel like a two-way conversation where the rep is genuinely curious and wants to know more about the prospect and their business.
The core component of STC is to go deep with conversations, not just scratch the surface; not to figure out what prospects do and how they do it, but why they do it. Sometimes they have a good reason, and sometimes it’s as simple as “We’ve always done it this way.” Common phrases salespeople will use over and over again in STC are “Tell me more about that,” and “Why do you do it that way?”
At your training session, propose different scenarios to your salespeople, asking them to brainstorm the questions they’d ask in each. Work individually or in small groups, then share your responses with each other so that everyone can benefit from the team’s different perspectives.
Your sales reps have learned the prospect’s goals and problems; now it’s time to put that info to good use. When preparing their demos, it’s best to personalize the presentation to fit the prospect’s specific business model and business needs – to highlight the solution to their problems and carve a path toward achieving their goals.
It’s always tempting to save the best for last, but, similar to the elevator pitch, salespeople have a short window to make an impression. Teach them to start strong and show value up front and throughout the presentation. Have pre-planned success stories with corresponding slide decks ready to go. People love social proof. There’s something about hearing it from other people and not a salesperson that adds weight to the decision-making process.
With the sales team, create a slide deck and a short demo that encapsulates what a value-rich presentation should look like. Another approach is to start one from scratch. Give the team the customer profile and let them listen to a short discovery call. Then practice creating a demo for that client. Run these the same way athletes run drills so that your team’s demo skills are ready for any situation.
Chances are, the same objections are coming up over and over again:
In all likelihood, your sales reps have a list a mile long. Unless the organization is new, they should have a common rebuttal for every objection.
When they hear a new objection, it should be written down, analyzed, and shared with the team so possible solutions can be determined for overcoming it. A sales meeting is the perfect place to showcase new objections, share how they were overcome (or not), and brainstorm more possible solutions.
Mock calls with a manager or colleague to practice going over objection handling can be a good use of time. Also, having experienced salespeople present or demonstrate here can hold a lot of sway with the rest of the team, too.
STC is immensely important in the discovery phase when a rep first begins talking to a prospect, and it can be used throughout the sales cycle as an objection-handling technique as well. In tricky situations, the best course of action is to keep asking questions and probing for possible solutions.
Just 8% of sales reps are making 80% of the sales. What are they doing differently? Dissecting greatness is something we all do. We want to know who’s doing it better and how they’re doing it. Sales meetings are the perfect environment for sharing such stories.
Did someone on the team just close a big client or overcome a major objection?
Use your training session to have that person share their story front to back – what they learned, how they overcame objections, how they positioned value, and what they learned along the way. Chances are other people on the team will hear about something different than what they’ve been doing and take a new approach in their next sales call.
Sales confidence in any industry comes from practice and knowledge. Periodically going over the latest happenings in your industry can be beneficial to positioning a salesperson as an expert or advisor.
Unfortunately, this isn’t commonplace at most companies. Most are worried about a baseline understanding of the sales process and their own product instead of higher-level thinking in terms of industry trends, growth, or stagnation.
Rightfully so, those other factors are top priorities – but if you have a little extra time in the offseason or are looking for professional development training, then tasking someone with finding relevant industry news or trends each week or month can be a big win for everyone.
This idea can be its own training session (where the group researches different news sources and shares their findings), or it can be done in 10-15 minutes at the start of a session focusing on a different topic. Not only will doing so help your sales reps speak more confidently, it’ll also give them articles they can potentially share with prospects to start a conversation. Consider investing in industry research that’s exclusive or hard to find.
61% of sales reps believe selling is harder than it was ten years ago. The best sales managers understand that and know their own limitations. Sometimes it makes sense to bring in outside help to train the team. Outside help could consist of attending conferences and workshops, or bringing in an outside speaker to talk to the team. It could also mean hiring consultants or guest speakers. There are infinite topic possibilities here, including:
Sales meetings aren’t about scolding your team, but about lifting their spirits and celebrating and emulating success. Find time to discuss lagging sales numbers or poor performance behind closed doors, and instead use these blocks of time to dissect greatness, highlight champions, and make your salespeople even just 1% better than they were yesterday.