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May 8, 2020

78: 5 ways to run a better team meeting

Get the sense that your B2B sales team is bored during your regular team meetings?  As a sales manager, here are 3 ideas to get them re-engaged

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Don't let your regular sales team meetings bore everyone in your team. Use these three tips to make them interesting, make them fun, but most importantly, make them valuable.

Welcome to the podcast and the YouTube channel as well. We're at the end of April 2020 in the middle of the lockdown for the COVID-19 pandemic. Come through it. It seems like there's a little bit of, of a, a, what's the word, relaxing of the rules going on. It's gonna be interesting to see how that plays out. We're looking obviously at this in real time. If you're watching this or listening to this in the future you'll know how things panned out. Hopefully we're on the right path to come out of this and get things back to a new normal, whatever that new normal will be.

and as always, huge thanks out to everyone in the, I guess the [00:01:00] economy who's doing what they can to keep things going, all the, Uber, Lyft drivers, the Door Dashers, the Instacarts, the food delivery people, people at restaurants cooking for it to go and for delivery. All you folks are, are working hard and pretty, pretty touch circumstances and of course all our healthcare professionals, who are ou- out there in the front lines doing what they can. you know huge sacrifices being made by all these people to try and get us back to the, the place we want to be and, and back onto more of a, a level setting out there.

So today's topic is your regular sales team meeting or as its known by reps around the world, a great time to do email. and that's [inaudible 00:01:48] thing, right, I mean i- it's, it's become, it can become anyway, a thing that you feel like you have to do, it becomes a little bit wrote, it becomes a little bit boring and because of that, you know, there's this vicious circle happens where the more boring it is or the more wrote it is, the [00:02:00] more of the sales team kinda switch off, the more they swee- switch off, the more wrote it is. It's just a vicious cycle, right?

At the end of the day, this is an expensive call, right? S- expensive meeting if you're in person. you've got all your expensive reps on there, you got yourself, there's probably some, virtual team members as well from other parts of the company on the call and that makes it an expensive call that needs to be treated like that. It needs to be planned for properly and there needs to be thought going into it to make it as valuable as possible. So if you are in that situation, here are just three tips to try and get yourself out of that right and make this call, more interesting, more fun, and more valuable for your team.

The first one is around inspecting engagement. now this is tough and I, I've sat there on calls where the leader's like, "Come on guys, you know, cut me some slack. Talk to me," kind of thing, right? But I think if you're very intentional about it you could actually do, get a lot of engagement going. Couple things about it. First [00:03:00] of all, these days if you are remote or the team is remote, I would encourage you to make it mandatory that video is switched on, and I've worked for at least one, maybe two people who made that the rule and actually wouldn't start the call until every video thing was on and almost without exception. You know there was no real excuses allowed.

And he didn't. that one didn't do it, to be a real pain in the ass. He did it for two reasons. One, he knew that if they knew that he knew he was watching [laughs] on the video it's less likely they're going to be doing a whole bunch of things in the background, for one, but secondly, you know it's just more engaging anyway, right? you can see your teammates, you can see facial expressions and you, if you're talking you can see their reaction and all the rest of it. If they're listening they can see the person who's talking. It's just a much better environment to create a bit more connectedness, if that's a word, and engagement as well. So that's one. You know, if you can, video on.

Secondly, involve others, involve the team [00:04:00] in setting the agenda to make sure or to focus the call to make sure that, it's valuable for them, right? If they feel like they're e- more in control, rather than just rocking off at, whatever it is, nine o'clock on a Monday morning, if they feel like they're in control of what happens on these calls they're going to be much more invested in making them a success.

Another thing is to get engagement actually on the call itself, is ask questions. Now I, I know that's not a new idea, right, but don't do the, someone talks for five minutes and then you do the, "So what do people think?" or "Does anyone have any feedback?" or anything like that, right? You'll be very specific about these questions that are asked.

So what I've encouraged you to do, let's say someone talks for five minutes, rather than just throw it open, what you could do is say, "John, you know, I'm interested, you know, your big deal at this company, how would this play out or be useful for you in that deal?" Right? So you've actually set the expectation you're gonna call on someone and you're not calling them out, [00:05:00] you're drawing them into the conversation, right, and you're very specific about the question you're asking. So it's not a, "Oh sure, it sounds great," kinda answer. It's gonna be a thoughtful answer as well. And you'll be, you'll be amazed how just doing that very specific thing is gonna draw more people into the conversation. And what will happen is the answer you get back will be more interesting and then someone else might come in and ask another question or ask them a question or give another thought, in some way that engagement happens.

Now this all sounds well and good, but how you start down this path if you're on, if you're having these calls where it's a little bit dull and no one's talking, how you do that. I think the, what you have to do is you draw the line, right? So maybe what you do on your one on ones with your team is to say, "Okay, on the first call of next month, here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna make this call more interesting for you, more valuable, more engaging. I need your input on, on what this is, what it's gonna be."

So how you do that. one of the, one of the ways I encourage [00:06:00] you to do that is to not just ask for ideas, it's not a terrible way to do that, but not just ask for ideas, but be specific. So you say at the end of you're one on one perhaps, you'd say that, "You know, John, you're up. John, you know, be completely honest with me, you know, don't sugarcoat it. I can take whatever answer you give me. One a scale of 1-10 where would you rate our, our regular team call that we do?"

And he might say, "5," or he might want to be kind and say, "8," whatever it is. You say, "Okay then, thanks for being honest. Now, what would it take in your mind for this call to be rated a 9 or 10?" Right? And you just kinda, they, they've identified the problem 'cause he said it's a low number, and now they're part o- the solutions, you've drawn them in to figure out well what could happen on this call, to, to make it, to make it m- more useful for them. So that's one thing to do in terms of s- you know drawing the line.

The second thing is to say, "I'm literally going to call on people, and I'm not trying to call you out, I'm trying to draw you in, and I expect everyone from this Monday on when [inaudible 00:07:14] this call on words, to be [00:07:00] ready to take part," right? So you've set the expectation you're gonna do it, and then you follow through for all to see, make sure that's what you actually do do. So that's how to get more engagement.

Second idea is give the call a focus, right? You've got an agenda for sure, but have a focus for the call. you know too often it's the regular Monday morning call, and it's a bit of a, a, you know generic, "Well, we're gonna talk about this or that or you know whatever it might be," it's a little bit generic, right? If you've, if you're running this expensive call can you have a, have a focus every single week?

It might be the same focus for a month or maybe even a quarter, right, but everyone goes into it knowing, I don't know, the, the, the first Monday of the month the focus is, I don't know, building pipe or something like that, right? Or it might be you know i-, this whole month it's all gonna be about the, the building pipe team call. And almost everything that happens on the call is all about building pipeline, that's who the guest, the guests are gonna talk about, that's what you're gonna talk about it, that's what the team is gonna t- be talking about, things like that, [00:08:00] right?

So give it some focus so that, it's got more value, right? The more focused you give the more value it has, the less you just 'cause you're generically throw things at people, then the less value they're gonna get the more you do that. So give it some focus. especially i- if you got a team working on something. Let's say you've entered the quarter with a pretty light pipe, maybe it is a ra- a pipeline generation call and it's not about calling people out about their pipeline, it's about ideas and approaches and new use cases and things like that to really help them succeed.

And the third I would say is, and this is especially true if it's a remote call, is how can you draw people in by making it a bit more interesting, a bit more personal? now, I'm sure you've been there before, usually often what happens is everyone starts dialing in, maybe right about the, the time the calls starts, some come in a little bit late, a couple come in a little bit early and there's a bit of banter, but as more people join the call, it kinda goes silent and then as the leader starts everyone's put in silent mode, right? So it's already pretty [00:09:00] dull, right?

And then the leader will then start saying whatever the, the agenda is and kinda go from there. Very dry, right? It can very dry if you do it like that. Now, I, I worked for one, one sales leader, he was a North America sales leader with about, I don't know, I'd imagine 50-80 reps on this call and he would start every call with music, right [laughs] so the first you just knew that at the top of the hour there was a song would play for the first two to three minutes. It was kinda handy if you were a little bit late 'cause you knew you were gonna, you know, come in a couple minutes late and there'd be music playing.

But what he did was, it wasn't him choosing the music. He would actually, you know, first of all, the first time he ever did it, he would say, "You know, I'm going to nominate John," the rep in Florida, let's say, and then so the next week John would come up with his song and play it and he might ask him, "Hey, that's a great song. I love it. Why'd you pick it? Is there a story behind it?" right, something like that and then he would say, "John, you pick the person for, for next week." So then it become owned by the sales team and you get a bit of banter, right, different regions kinda you know calling each other out, things like that and it was kind of a fun [00:10:00] way to do it. So maybe a song might be a good way to it.

Another one might be setting expectations that you're gonna devote the first five or 10 minutes to the call to you know sales stories from the week before, all right? and you know how to do it, it's a bit of a free for all, you can maybe nominate someone, all right, 'cause then they can pull from, maybe not week before, but the month before, right, recent ones. And they can come with a war story, a funny story, a stupid thing that happened out in the field, whatever it might be, right? And it kind of, you know, i- it might be a lesson there or it might just be hilarious what happened to them.

This is a really cool thing to do if, especially if you got one of these conversation analysis tools like Dong or, or Chorus or one of these guys in there because you actually draw from that. I was at one company and you know some of the cold calls that were recorded tha- that went a bit longer were hilarious, right, both, you know, the prospect being complete pain in the ass or the sales rep screwing up [laughs].

Whatever it was, there were some really good ones and we used to play those on these calls and, and i- it was fantastic, right, it made it you know [00:11:00] drew everyone in, everyone's laughing and, it was never at the expense of someone, right? If i- if someone was a bit embarrassed like we'd ask them f- beforehand, "Would you mind if I played that call where you, you screwed up?" but if, if we give it to them to do then it's not a problem, right, but it was a really funny way to do it. So, so that might be a good way to do it, sales stories.

Another way to do it is, kinda like the music, but you ask a rep each week to, be this, be the question asker, right, so they, what they might do is to say, you know, start the call, okay, Jimmy is the question person today, "Jimmy, what's your question?" And then Jimmy's gonna have a question for the team, right? And that go many different ways. It could be a, a silly question, right? "What did you do on your 10th birthday?" or "What was the worst, I don't know, worst thing you ever did at sports at high school?"

Or something like that, right? Or it can be more serious, right, "What was your biggest loss?" "What was the biggest mistake you made in, on a sales call in the last month?" Right, and then you, people start answering and drawing in and creates some engagement. Some people can be val- very vulnerable [00:12:00] and transparent, some people can be very funny 'cause funny is a good way to kinda draw it in, but importantly don't you be the person, you know, thinking up the question each week. Again, assign it out and then have, have Johnny nominate someone else for next week, things like that. Get some engagement going like that.

So there's lots of different things that you can do like that to try and get that fun bit going as well. The last dry it is the more emotionally connected people are to their teammates, but the call itself and what happens and if you do it to start it's a great tone setter for that call.

So there you go. Three tips for, making your regular sales call more interesting, more fun, and more valuable, which is probably the most important. Now, the trick is don't try and do all three in one go. Pick one of those and start right now. If this is midweek and your call is coming up, start this week, right? Figure out how you can start implementing some of these things in your call and go from there. And once you got the first one [00:13:00] done, then try something new again, and try something new again and take these ideas or maybe you got a whole bunch more yourself. Try something new, but remember this is an expensive call. Make sure your team find it valuable.

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