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Improve Your Sales Meetings TODAY

Improve Your Sales Meetings TODAY

by Sean Luce

How challenging are your sales meetings? Do you challenge your sales reps? Or do you just cover the normal administrative inventory, avails and rates, maybe throw in a few success stories, and hit the door? Then, do your sales reps "hit the door"? Like really hit it, and charge out into the field with improved selling skills and motivation?

Many sales meetings do nothing more than motivate the sales reps to put in their obligatory appearance. What kind of sales meetings do you execute?

Yes, there are many different kinds of sales meetings. My opinion has always been that the best sales trainer is the sales manager who trained his or her own salespeople. Outside training can be good, as long as it's line with your own thinking and training as a sales manager. But far too often sales training meetings are not challenging enough.

Bring in Watson. Who is Watson? The IBM computer that challenged the Jeopardy game show, and beat top Jeopardy contestants -- until a New Jersey rocket scientist took on the computer. Sales training doesn't have to be rocket science, of course. Just make it fun, and remember, entertainment is education and education is entertainment.

Before a recent training trip, I gave homework assignments to the sales reps to make sure they knew their seven steps on an opening call (CMP-Customer Marketing Profile) and seven steps to a closing call, and asked them to study the 10 Commandments of Negotiating. Most sales reps couldn't negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag in the middle of a monsoon. Knowing how to negotiate is non-negotiable. 

"Never be afraid to walk" is the first commandment, and "Open high" is right behind that. Walk away from an order -- in this economy? Maybe you need to walk away from more to get your rates up! Open negotiations at the top of your rate card. (Do you have a rate card? Demand sets your rates? If your sales reps don't know how to negotiate -- who sets your rates?)
But more about the homework: The reps needed to know the basic components of their CMP, such as the marketing checklist, the customer's profit centers, their current budget planner, and where the prospect/customer is spending their money on marketing currently. They should know to ask problem-related questions that really find out what the prospect/customer wants to accomplish versus the standard "package peddling."

In my opinion, closing happens on the first call or CMP call in direct proportion to the amount of information the sales reps gather. Your reps need to quantify the expectations and qualify the money involved or they face the number one objection in media sales: "That's too much money!"

The game-show format I had in mind produced some intense studying over the weekend; the reps were given the homework on Friday night for a Monday-morning sales training meeting. (We didnt want them studying in selling prime time, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and also, these are techniques they have been trained in already, so they should have been familiar.)

We had two teams, and each team started with a team member behind a lectern. We flipped a coin to start, with the winner picking the first category. Teams had 60 seconds to answer the question -- timed by the  Jeopardy theme song -- and if they wrong, the question went over to the other team, then back and forth until the question was answered correctly. The contest went on about 45 minutes.

 On Jeopardy, just in case you have never played or seen the show, you have five categories. In my game show, there were six categories. The extra category was a double bonus point category that includes the three main reasons why someone should buy an annual contract from your sales reps:

1. People move -- 20 percent move in and out of markets every year.
2. People are exposed to 3,000-plus advertising messages per day. Does your client rise above the clutter? 3. There is a buyer's awareness cycle involved with most purchases outside of on-demand products like food. This bonus category also includes ROI -- return on investment -- and other common vocabulary terms associated with media such as profit margins, average sales, and closing ratios at the customer's business.

Do your sales reps have their "steps" down? One thing they should do on every call is ask for referrals. That question was in our game show: "One thing you should always do on every call" -- in this case our first call CMP? The answer: "What are referrals?" Another category was dedicated to overcoming objections.

This "game show" wasn't rocket science, and neither is selling media or radio, for that matter. On Monday morning our  sales reps from the cluster of radio stations played Jeopardy. The winning group members received $50 each. Not bad for less than an hour's worth of playing.

Watson didn't win the game (Watson didn't even attend). Our people won! Remember, education is entertainment and entertainment is education. It's always great to open your sales training meeting on a high note!


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