Agent to Agent: The Importance of Sales Meetings
By David Connolly
Nothing, not one thing happens in this economy until a sale is made. No raw materials are ordered, not one engine starts, and no services are performed until an order has been placed. Strong sales are the single most important asset of any for-profit company. New business is the lifeblood of every company. It is the fuel that drives growth, investment and opportunity.
Considering the vital importance of sales, you would think that meetings whose sole purpose is to promote and drive sales would be considered critical. But sales meetings finish low on the list of priorities for many agencies. As a result, sales meetings are plagued by poor attendance, tardiness, distractions and interruptions. Sales meetings often start late, run late or are cancelled altogether. Lack of preparation and a defined agenda produces terrible meetings that produce terrible results.
Sound familiar? In what professional sales organization would these behaviors be acceptable? What we expect and tolerate is what we get. This tolerance creates a perception that sales meetings are a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe that sales meetings are sacred. Once we understand the direct, positive impact sales meetings have on our culture, our success and our wallets, we will give them the respect they deserve.
Why Are Sales Meetings So Important?
We only have 24 hours in a day to take care of our family, our clients, our job, and ourselves. Given the value of our time, why waste it on meetings that don’t always appear to benefit us personally? Here is the short list of reasons why sales meetings are critical to your success.
- Culture: A Total Agency Sales Culture is the cornerstone of every high performance agency. The underpinnings of a total agency sales culture are activities that build, support and sustain organic growth. Effective sales meetings are one of these critical activities. Sales meetings nurture esprit de corps. They serve as a catalyst and binding agent for shared goals and objectives. They serve to reinforce and remind us that we are a team, and we share a higher purpose other than our own personal benefit. Sales meetings bring us together to accomplish much more than we could alone. We are a sales driven industry. Sales meetings are part of the foundation that supports a thriving sales culture.
- Communication: Many agencies are plagued by poor communication. One reason is producers are a very independent group. The nature of our job requires us to operate like sole proprietors who manage our personal books. Sales meetings require us to come together for one hour as a team and communicate. They foster teamwork and bring to light opportunities for us to help each other. Sales meetings serve as the one consistent forum for communication and connection as producers.
- Synergy: Sales meetings create synergy. If we are not pulling together, then we are pulling apart. They create like-minded thinking and get us pulling together in the same direction.
- Direction and Numbers: Sales meetings serve as our compass. They influence direction and indicate when course correction is required. Numbers are a direct reflection of results. Numbers are the only true, impartial measurement of success. Numbers are a true ally and friend to producers. Numbers never lie, and they are brutally honest. Numbers give us hope, determination, incentive and recognition for our successes. They also give us a kick in the rear when we need it. Sales meetings are all about the numbers, and we need to fall in love with numbers.
- Motivation: We are all motivated by different factors. For some it’s the pursuit of excellence, for others it’s money, and still others are motivated by competition. We all have personal forms of internal motivation, but peer pressure and competition are powerful forms of external motivation that gives us that extra spark to jump-start our engines. External motivation stirs our competitive spirit. Sales meetings touch on many forms of motivation both positive and negative. Sales meetings create needed competition and pressure.
- Skill Set Development and Reinforcement: Selling isn’t winning. Winning is winning. We win business from the competition by being better. Sales meetings test and hone our abilities and force us to learn and apply new skills and processes that are good for us and make us better than our competition.
- Talent Development and Perpetuation: Agencies that have expired or been consumed by larger shops all share one thing in common; they failed to groom new talent to grow and perpetuate the agency. Experienced producers can have a huge impact on the careers of new producers by shortening their learning curve. The opportunity for a new producer to participate in meetings where experienced producers discuss numbers, business plans, account strategies and selling skills is invaluable. Who will provide for your retirement? The new talent you groom to take your place. Sales meetings serve as an opportunity for seasoned agents to help grow new talent.
- NOBs: All highly performing companies embrace Non Optional Behaviors. All fortune 500 companies subscribe to NOBs that drive sales cultures based on excellence and exceptional results. Sales meetings are one specific change we can make to produce immediate results. The agencies and producers I work with experience exceptional results. Why? One reason is they all run excellent sales meetings. Producers and managers who participate in sales meetings gain significant personal and financial benefits. Increased opportunities and improved performance are the product of these sales meetings. They result in significant revenue that benefits everyone in the organization and secures the future of the agency. All believe that Sales Meetings Are Non Optional Behaviors.
Over my 30-year career in insurance, I have participated in and run thousands of sales meetings. Good, bad and ugly sales meetings. What I’ve learned is that sales leaders must prepare for and practice running productive sales meetings. Effective sales meetings governed by rules of conduct that apply to everyone. There must be a results driven agenda that creates opportunity and a desire to attend.
Here is what I consider the optimal structure, agenda and rules for running the very best sales meetings in the business.
Running Sales Meetings That Drive Sales
- Frequency: Weekly. Create a rhythm and expectations. Sales meetings are important.
- Day: Monday. Sales are a priority, this is the first meeting we have.
- Time: First thing Monday morning. Sales are a priority, this is the first meeting we have.
- Size: No more than 10 per meeting, only production and management personnel. If you exceed 10, break up into 2 groups of 5 and run back to back meetings.
- Duration: 1 hour. Period. When 1 hour is up, the meeting ends.
- 15 minutes of skill set training.
- 1/2 hour of pre-appointment strategies on new business prospects.
- 15 minutes on the numbers where sales managers review goals, pipelines, and new business written by producers.
Rule #1: Sales meetings are not optional. They are the most important thing we do on a weekly basis. With the exception of illness, family emergency, traffic accident or vacation, producers do not miss sales meetings, ever.
Rule #2: Producers and managers must show up early, and never late. We must respect each other and the importance of the meeting. Never be late.
Rule #3: Leave your phones outside. Texting, emailing and taking calls in meetings is not acceptable. Our culture’s recent tolerance of this behavior needs to change.
Rule #4: No interruptions by anyone, anytime, unless it’s a family emergency. Client’s can wait an hour for a call back, or our CSRs can handle it.
Rule #5: Producers come prepared with one new business prospect to discuss and conduct a pre-appointment strategy.
Do any doubts linger as to the benefits of sales meetings? Do you still ask, “Why should I attend sales meetings?”
If so, read 1-8 again and find a reason that resonates for you.
If 1-7 don’t get the job done, just read the last line of #8.
David Connolly is the founder of iQ Consulting, and is a recognized industry leader in helping agencies and carriers accelerate and perpetuate growth and retention. Their robust agency services platform provides professional guidance in almost every area critical to the success of your company. iQ provides agency consulting and leadership coaching services and focuses on producer development through training, in-field coaching and reinforcement resources. iQ’s approach to consulting and coaching is built from decades of personal experience in production, sales management, and agency leadership. David has coached thousands of insurance sales and marketing professionals in the US and Canada. David delivers performance-based seminars, keynotes, and workshops throughout North America. For more information about iQ Performance Consulting visit www.iqsalescoach.comor contact David directly at email@example.com or 612-414-5618.