Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Play #37 The Un Suckification Of The Weekly Sales Meeting!

Let’s face it, most Sales Meetings suck! Many of them have way too much administrative minutia, are easily hijacked by someone going off on a tangent, perhaps a brag fest from the veteran who you need to continually make a note to give a damn about. Part bitch fest, beat up session and perhaps some good old fashioned shooting of the proverbial shit for good measure! At the end of the meeting everyone scratches their head and wonders why the sales team isn’t out tearing bumpers off of cars.

Sound familiar?

Someone hand me the jaws of life baby, ‘cause its time we pull the sales team from the wreck!

Take turns being CMO (Chief Meeting Officer) for that week or month, The Chief Meeting Officer’s job is to plan the meeting and run it with your manager’s blessing. The beauty of this is that you get to experience many different styles and you will work an important muscle group called facilitation. The CMO appoints a scribe for that meeting. The scribe’s job is to take down the minutes and send everyone a recap 24-48 hours after the meeting.

Agree that the meetings will now start and end on time and a zero tolerance policy with regard to bitching is now in effect. Oh and shut off the damn cell phones and blackberries. You're busy, we get it, now lets go back to playing nice with the other kids!

Speaking of parking lot, start using one! This is simply a flip chart or a pad of paper with the heading “Parking Lot” written on it. From now on, when you run out of time on a discussion or someone has this urge to take the meeting way the hell into left field you can simply “Parking Lot” the idea. If you use your parking lot properly, you will now have tons of future meeting topics that no one can push back on. Why? Because they suggested the topic!

Take turns doing a quick report on an article from any of these sales sites: or dare I say, Castain’s Sales Playbook Blog? You can have 1-2 reps per meeting give a 3-5 minute presentation on an article. The presenter gets to work on critical presentation skills, they will be forced to “own” the material and the group will benefit from the knowledge share.

Brainstorming: Pick a topic and ask the group the ultimate brainstorming question. “In What Ways Can We” and then fill in the blank. Example: “In what ways can we bring in more local accounts? In what ways can we thrive in these challenging times?”

On The Spot: Write down on 3 x 5 cards different things each person needs to know inside and out. You could have product/service questions, perhaps a common objection, give us your 30 second elevator speech etc. The Rep picks a random card out of a hat and they must stand up in front of their peers and respond. The group offers feedback and discusses different ways of handling that same situation. Don’t want to use random cards? Take turns fielding left hooks thrown by the sales team.

Have everyone bring their typical emails, letters and creative door openers. Share ideas, critique, brainstorm.

Vertical Market Discussion: Have someone who has sold a particular vertical do a presentation to include: Overview of that vertical, typical points of entry and title of the decision makers, buzzwords, typical pain/opportunity points, perhaps a case history or two, typical questions you would use in a needs analysis for that vertical, name of an industry trade group, websites etc.

Role Play (and not that kinky shit where you are the traveling salesman she is the evil warrior princess) Have someone think of a recent appointment they were on and have them play that prospect. Someone else plays the role of the rep and has to uncover the needs. Everyone can offer input and constructive feedback.

Good News: Always end your meeting with some good news. This is your body armor. Focusing on the crap, the loses, the negativity will completely undo every bit of good that was just accomplished. Can't think of any? Perhaps you are embracing the wrong livelihood then! We need to be the cheerleaders of our organization and it all begins with us!

Important Note To Sales Managers: A sales meeting should never be a lecture! Don't ever let a group of sales people sit back, fold their arms and give you the old "Entertain me circus boy" BS. Keep it interactive. Ask people specific questions, ask for their opinion, their spin, a different spin, another example.

That's it for now. You can expect more on this subject in the future!

3 Quick things before you go forth and kick ass:

First: Subscribe to Paul Castain's Sales Playbook by Email

Second: Please join The Sales Playbook LinkedIn Group by clicking here

Third: If you find value in the various tidbits I share on this blog, how about hooking a Jedi up by passing this along to your sales team, customers, friends, networking buddies on LinkedIn? I'm trying like hell to be famous and could really use your help!


  1. Paul, this is such a great post! I love it! Keep up the great work!

  2. My favorite topic - thanks for the great suggestions. I, too, believe we must stop torturing sales people with bad meetings. They suck the life out of a sales team first thing on a Monday morning - not such a great strategy. Love the topic and your input.
    Jill at Meeting to Win

  3. Paul, I love it! Brings back many memories of bad meetings I have attended!

  4. Paul,
    Make a compound out of your ideas, form it into a pill and slip it into everyones drink in always enlighten me.

    Continue the terrific work.

    Alan Kravitz

  5. As a former architect of many Sales Meetings I like the parking lot concept and the role playing idea.

    The parking lot can sometimes be called the Smart Ass Holding Cell. There always seems to be someone that thinks they are above the sales meeting crowd and throws out drivel to sidetrack the meeting. Sentence them to the Holding Cell and as part of their probation sentence them to a presentation on the distraction they brought up. Next month they give the presentation on the subject to the team that includes an Sr. member of the Sales Management Team.

    As far as role playing goes I think it is key to a sucessful sales meeting. It gives the new rep the chance to work out their technique infront of a live audience, get feed back and not lose a sale because they faultered. It also puts the Tenured Rep out in fornt of the group so the newer reps can see how a professional presents.

    If I have a major presentation to do I set up my DVD Camera and start filming in my home office. I then review the tape and note where I can make improvements. My wife is a Psychologist, so I have her watch and she provides feedback to me also. It is interesting how she can see things that I don't realize may be troubling to an audience. Too many acronyms, no eye contact, slow down, be more emphatic, stop talking like tony Soprano.....those are just a few of the things she helps me improve on.

    Great topic, I look forward to seeing The Castain Jedi Sales Meeting LIVE!

  6. What a fantastic post. I have done many Google searches on making sales meetings more effective, and this is the best article I have found yet.

    Thank you!


  7. Great advice to include in our future sales meetings. Thanks for taking the time to post this!


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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