salespeople

How to Run A Great National Sales Meeting

Over the years, the USR team has been involved in scores of national sales meetings. We’ve learned there is a simple formula for how to run a great national sales meeting, and it starts with a great plan.

If you are in sales for a large or mid-market organization, you’ve probably participated in, led, or organized a national or regional sales meeting at some point in your tenure. Members of the USR team have participated in hundreds of national sales meetings or regional ones as participants, sales leaders, and facilitators, and we have had a wide range of experiences from truly great to downright awful. Following are some common experiences that we and other salespeople have in national sales meetings:

  • You arrive at your national sales meeting, full of expectations for a lot of networking with your peers and some motivational talks, only to be locked in hotel conference rooms and flogged with PowerPoint slides for two days. You leave exhausted, unmotivated, and you don’t know your peers any better than when you arrived.
  • Your sales meeting is full of motivational, aspirational talk, but it lacks any connection to the mission you and your peers are paid to complete. While there is a lot of talk about the organization’s future vision, there is very little discussion of how you will get there, what your role will be, or what new resources will be made available to you. You leave somewhat motivated, but you haven’t a clue what you are supposed to do differently as a result of your participation in the national sales meeting.
  • You arrive at the event, and from the time you arrive at the hotel or meeting site, it is not clear where you are supposed to be, who you are supposed to spend time with, what you are supposed to do, and the meeting logistics have clearly not been well planned. You participate in the meeting to the best of your ability, but you leave the national sales meeting feeling disrespected and that your time has been wasted. Who arranged this disaster?
  • Well before the meeting, you receive clear communications about the meeting logistics and what is expected of you before, during, and after the meeting. You arrive at the meeting crystal clear about why you are here, and you leave the meeting with a clear call to action that makes total sense to you. You feel like an important part of the organization’s plan to achieve something great this year, and you are totally energized to do your part.

You may likely have experienced some or all of these types of meetings, and there are countless other examples that we could offer to illustrate just how great or downright awful a national sales meeting can be. Ultimately, the point of this post is that an organization has a choice every time it schedules a national sales meeting or a regional event. That choice boils down to, “How thoughtful will we be about this event?”

Over the years, we’ve helped dozens of clients plan and execute great national sales meetings. When helping our clients plan national sales meetings, we challenge their thinking with important questions like…

  1. What is the really important business outcome you have to achieve this coming year?
  2. What is your strategy for achieving that outcome, and how are you planning to explain that strategy to your salespeople?
  3. What new information do you plan to share with your audience? What do they really need to know, and how do you want them to experience that message?
  4. What conclusions do you want sales people to draw? What new or different actions do you want them to take?
  5. What kinds of speakers or facilitators will you need to ensure your people draw the right conclusions and commit to the right actions?

Are you planning a national sales meeting in the coming months? Are you concerned at all about the possibility of giving your salespeople a less-than-excellent experience at your upcoming national sales meeting? Would it help to have a conversation with someone who knows how to plan and execute a great national sales meeting?

If so, then please either contact us by visiting our “Contact Us” page, or email greatsalesmeetings@usr-llc.com for a consultation. We will prepare a plan for you that you can carry out on your own or with our help. Together, we can put an end to bad national sales meetings!

 

One Person’s Perspective Is Just That

In complex sales, getting one person’s perspective is just that. And how well does that one buyer’s perspective usually reflect the whole story?

Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time both observing and coaching professional salespeople in the field.  I marvel at how often salespeople, even those that are good, solid performers take the word of a single buying contact as gospel.  In other words, they seek only one person’s perspective, and they don’t bother to seek others’.

As a professional salesperson myself, I understand that it is a lot easier and certainly more efficient to go to one source of information rather than going to many sources.  Validating the intelligence that one can gather and confirming the whole truth takes time.  It also has a clear payoff.  Yet many salespeople still won’t take the time to seek more than one buying contact’s perspective.

Is it because of laziness? Is it fear? Is it just a lack of awareness that causes people to accept one (buyer’s) version of the truth?

Maybe it’s some or all of the above.  I am really not sure.  Rather than try to determine with certainty the reason behind this single-buyer-perspective syndrome, let’s look at the effects.  Following are the top ten things that happen when you get one (and only one) person’s perspective throughout a buying cycle:

  1. Poor assumptions about the buying process.  Assuming that one person really has the authority and the capability to make a buying decision without validation, input, or approval from others is deadly.  Very few companies allow their people to buy that way any more.  There’s too much risk.
  2. Positioning the wrong capabilities or emphasizing things about your capabilities that the customer won’t ultimately value.  If you only know what one person in an organization values, how can you demonstrate value to anyone else?
  3. Wasted time.  Chasing down information, writing proposals, revising proposals, making offers…it all takes a lot of time.  If you have to do it several times over because you didn’t anticipate that others would be interested in weighing in on what you propose, then you’ve wasted a great deal of time.

    Why would you take this guy's word for it?
    Why would you take this guy’s word for it?
    (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
  4. Skipping some really important conversations with key players in the customer’s organization.
  5. You lose or… Heaven forbid… you win but set your solution up for failure.  Depending on just one buyer’s perspective creates a great deal of risk that your solution will not address the needs and outcomes that others desire.  Prepare for frustration and disappointment if you lose.  Prepare for dissatisfied customers if you win.  Either way, it’s not good.
  6. Wasted resources.  See #3.  You’re probably wasting others’ time and valuable resources in addition to yours.
  7. Selling to the wrong person.  See #6 and #3.  If you’re selling to the wrong person, it probably means you’re not really in a buying cycle at all.  You’re just making friends, which is nice, but it is not what you are paid to do as a professional seller.
  8. Selling not once but several times.  Back to the drawing board!  You didn’t bother to get Sally’s perspective, so it’s time to sell to her now.
  9. Getting blind-sided.  Is there anything worse than finding out that someone else’s perspective mattered more than the person on whom you were focused?  One feels really dumb when that happens.  Getting blind-sided sucks.
  10. Surrendering control over the buying process… to  someone who may not have your best interests in mind.  Some buyers like the attention of salespeople.  In fact, they’ll take it all day long, as it makes them feel important.  So hand over the reins to that one buyer who’ll be happy to give you his perspective on everything but not bore you with anyone else’s perspective.  He’ll take care of you in the end.  Right?

With that top ten list behind us, the question I pose to you is, “Why would you take one buyer’s word for it ever again?”

No, really.  Why would you?

Comments and feedback are welcome, as always.  Please feel free to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, or forward this post along to others who might enjoy the discussion.  I love new friends.  I will be back soon with another post and with a really exciting announcement about USR and our new Total Customer Strategy offering.  Stay tuned!