The Annual Sales Meeting

February 29, 2012 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Meeting objective

In companies that are regularly closing new sales, have at least one dedicated sales person and have the beginnings of a sales process, an annual sales kickoff meeting can help capture what’s been learned, build team spirit and energize the entire sales effort.

I’ve found that a successful sales meeting requires planning and careful preparation.  In this post we capture some things that have worked well for us.  We focus on the following topics:

  • Who to invite
  • What topics to cover
  • How much time to allocate
  • How to set up the room
  • How to run the meeting

Who to invite

  • All the sales people and of course the head of Sales
  • Any people whose primary job it is to help the sales people on sales calls or account management – such as sales engineers and service delivery leaders
  • Company management, including the CEO, and heads of Marketing and Product Development
  • Selected customers

What topics to cover

  •  A careful review of last year’s sales efforts, including:
    • For sales that were won – the lead source, the type of customer, what the customer initially bought (if the company has multiple initial offerings), the value of the initial and subsequent sales, how long it took in each stage, what were the obstacles, who was the main competitor, how did we beat them?
    • For sales that were lost – the lead source, the type of customer, which competitor won the sale and why
    • I find it much more useful to only capture issues in the context of individual opportunities that were won on lost – that keeps these sessions for becoming generalized venting sessions
  • Company’s plan for the year
    • Overall objectives and strategy – CEO
    • Marketing and lead-generation plans – Head of Marketing
    • Product development plans – Head of Product Development
  • What each sales person plans to do in the coming year
    • Sales from existing customers
    • Sales from new customers
    • Lead generation efforts, perhaps in collaboration with marketing
    • Assumptions they are making about the support they will receive or products that will be ready for sale
  • One or more customer’s experience with the company – ideally presented by the customer themselves
  • Some training, based on what the sales people need most at that time

How much time to allocate

  • 1 day for review and training
  • 1 day for planning the upcoming year
  • Group dinner in between for help people who may not see each other very often, build trust and rapport

How to set up the room

  • Everyone can see everyone else, plus the presenter at one end – long-U style table setup is ideal, comfortable (3.5 – 4.0’) table space per person, comfortable chairs
  • Projector and screen
  • Lots of flip charts/white boards
  • Power strips for everyone
  • Wireless internet access
  • Audio recording
  • Snacks, drinks in the room
  • Room for luggage for the travelers

How to run the meeting

  • During the meeting
    • Having one person responsible for facilitating the meeting is critical
    • Encourage interaction, dialog and debate – created and maintain the right conditions for that.  Watch for and draw out the quiet types and don’t let anyone dominate the conversation
    • Encourage people to tell the truth without fear – if this counter to the company’s culture, consider bringing in a professional facilitator
    • Resist the temptation to blame those who are not in the room
    • Make sure that commitments are recorded clearly and establish accountability for follow through – don’t let people suspect that all this is just talk
  • Before the meeting
    • Address contentious issues beforehand – don’t let people come in to this meeting itching for a fight
    • Ask people to give the affected people a heads up if they plan to bring up sensitive issues – don’t allow anyone to ambush anyone else
    • If staff changes are pending, make them and announce them before the beginning of the meeting – everyone in the room should feel they are dealing with the actual players in each position on the team for the coming year
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Entry filed under: Sales Skills, startup.

Yo market so ugly… (Evaluating markets from a b2b sales perspective)

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