It’s that time of the year again, when you start planning your annual sales meeting. You’re meeting with sales leaders and stakeholders who fundamentally see the benefit of hosting these meetings, but are worried about hitting sales targets and having the sales force out of the office for a few days not meeting with prospects and clients. But skipping this annual event is a big mistake! When done correctly, sales meetings have a lot of benefits for your sales team and for the organization as a whole. Here are five.
1. Product Knowledge
This is the most obvious, but the annual sales meeting is a great time to ensure that your sales team has all of the information they need to be able to speak knowledgeably about your products and services. When everyone is together in one place, it’s the perfect time to showcase all the latest and greatest, and ensure that everyone gets the same information.
This goes beyond simply reviewing features and benefits though! Real product knowledge is about knowing how your products and services map to specific customer needs, and how to talk about them from that point of view. The annual sales meeting is the perfect time for your sales reps, with their different clients, regions, and experiences, to share their stories and learn from one another.
2. Team Building
Since the annual sales meeting may be the only time the whole team gets together in one place, it may be your only opportunity to work on team building. Sometimes team-building activities seem like a waste of time — especially in cases where they’re poorly designed or don’t go as planned. To avoid this, be sure to do your research and choose something that gets consistently high ratings.
For example, an experiential team-building activity is a great choice because these activities spark the competitive spirit in sales teams, but do so in a fun environment that involves solving a problem using gamification and a theme. Everyone gets to contribute to the outcome and learn a few things along the way.
3. Skills Training
When the sales team puts down the phone for a couple of days of meetings, they want to walk away with something useful. Using some of your time together for training and development gives your sales team something valuable that they can put into practice right away.
This is another agenda item that fits well with experiential activities because they provide skills and knowledge that are practical and valuable. Using a problem or challenge that appears to be completely different from a day on the job, attendees get to practice new skills in a risk-free environment. When the activity is debriefed by a skilled facilitator, participants see the connection between what they’ve just experienced, and their challenges back at work, and will be armed with a new set of skills and behaviors to overcome them. As a bonus, a single, well-executed experiential activity can cover both skills training and team building at the same time.
4. Build on Successes and Work Through Challenges
The annual sales meeting is a great time to celebrate success and talk through challenges that your sales team is encountering. Don’t just talk about numbers, though — get people to share stories. Out of the exchange of stories and ideas come new innovations that everyone can build on. Talking through challenges also allows for a healthy amount of commiseration — knowing that others sometimes share the same challenges can go a long way in helping to overcome them.
Sharing these stories can also help you to identify gaps in sales enablement processes and materials at your organization. This insight can help inform future marketing content and sales tools so you can get the team the things they need to do their jobs well.
5. Include Strategic Direction and Create Alignment
Not only should you talk about successes and struggles in past and present situations, but the annual sales meeting is a good time to talk about the future. Bring in key executives to discuss the direction of the company is going, and the plans to get there. This helps the sales team to feel connected to the bigger picture, and will help in developing strategies and action plans for moving forward. Once the sales team knows the direction the company is headed, they can work together to get aligned on the best ways to contribute to the overall company goals.
The whole point of a sales meeting is to help your sales team to sell more. It’s a great opportunity to make sure they are up to date on the company's offerings and how they align with customer needs. It’s also a chance to celebrate successes, talk through challenges, and build new sales skills. Finally, getting together annually ensures that everyone is on the same page, and helps them feel refreshed and motivated. When you have a skilled, connected, and motivated sales team, they will work together to propel your organization toward its goals.