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Assigning Meeting Homework (A Note to the Sales Manager)

Have you ever held a meeting to update the sales force without a real agenda and ended up just taking care of some tired housekeeping issues? If you are going to take your team off the field, you have to make it worth their while. You wouldn’t want your sales team go to on sales calls without an agenda, so you don’t have a meeting without one. Here’s one way to build agendas that work.

You can dramatically improve the outcomes of your sales meetings, and you can make the meetings a better experience for your sales team, by assigning them homework.

Make Improvement an Individual Responsibility

Most people do their work and spend little time working on improving their ability and capacity to do that work. We’re all just so busy, and salespeople are no different. But our professional development is our own responsibility, even if we sometimes fail to remember this fact.

By choosing some area of sales and assigning homework around that area, you reinforce that member of your sales team is responsible for their own individual improvement. You force their engagement in overcoming challenges and growth.

Assign homework on prospecting techniques. Assign homework around negotiating. Assign homework on developing a more strategic level relationship with your clients. Reviewing the homework assignments ensures that your team is working on their own improvement because you’re setting a standard and making it so.

Make Shared Learning the Sales Force’s Responsibility

Assigning homework and allowing the salespeople to share their learning outcomes, you help improve the whole sales team.

Some salesperson will have a brilliant idea that other salespeople can put to use in their sales game. Some will have a challenge that they haven’t addressed, and they will benefit from hearing one of their peers share how they tackled that problem. Inevitably, you will identify some systemic challenges that the whole sales force is struggling to overcome.

By assigning homework and sharing ideas in your team huddles or sales meeting, you encourage the sales force to share their learning. You make the team’s growth their business.

Make Issue Recognition the Sales Force’s Issue

By bringing the most challenging issues to your sales meetings, you can identify issues, trends, and challenges that affect the whole sales organization. You’ve been in meetings and heard, “What are you running into?” Is a competitor making a change that is going to threaten you in your market? Is someone losing their hot hand? Are clients telling you they need something new and different?

By assigning homework to the sales force, you pull these issues out and you help to tackle them. Some of the issues will require your help; you will be the only one with authority to make changes.

Give them homework. Help them develop themselves. Help them develop each other. And help them by removing obstacles and challenges.


How do you keep your salespeople engaged in sales meetings and team huddles?

How do you ensure that the meetings improve the salespeople and not just allow you to share housekeeping?

How can you make sales meetings help salespeople improve themselves?

How do you structure sales meetings so that the salespeople can help each other?

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  • Mark Kosoglow

    I have tried exercises like this. I might have 1 or 2 people get it and really put in the effort needed to get something out of it. The other dozen or so complain and do it 5 minutes before the call and neither get something out of the exercise nor add to the “group think.” I communicate clearly the task and the benefit to them (and typically share a story of how doing this “thought work” benefitted me).

    How do I get more buy in on this?

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I’m not sure is this will work for your holdouts, Mark, but maybe have them teach and give them the whole meeting.

  • Ryan Biddulph

    Your sales team responds to your energy. Vibe high, and they respond. Good stuff here Anthony.

    • Mark Kosoglow

      I am known for being positive and passionate. It takes more than vibe. Like your point but getting people to do professional development like this is considered as “extra” and no matter how you explain the benefit, people rarely do “extra.”

      • Ryan Biddulph

        It all starts with the vibe though Mark. If you vibing high you are one step ahead of the crowd.

  • Christopher Lukar

    I think that while vibe is important, the true point here is to encourage individuals to do more and realise that their improvement is only going to happen if they bring it to the table.

    Sometimes a ‘high’ vibe will encourage a sales team to just say how ‘amazing’ everything is because they don’t want to ruin the vibe. Yet what we actually needed at the time was someone to talk about the elephant in the room.

    @twitter-811657129:disqus I personally think the issue is that the 1 or 2 people that get it are your star employees but the others obviously don’t respect you or value what you are trying to achieve. I don’t think it’s an issue with yourself and rather an issue with your team but I’d argue that it’s certainly worth doing it for the few people that do ‘get it’ purely so you can prove the concept to the ‘disbelievers’.

    Great article as always, huge fan of your work!

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