Before it is possible to list some of the best sales meeting topics, you must first determine the outcome of a sales meeting. If you are going to take your sales force out of the field and away from selling for an hour, that hour must provide them with something that improves their effectiveness. While there is always something you need to communicate with your sales force, the meeting’s outcome must be to enable your sales force to produce better results.
Best Sales Meeting Topics for Above the Funnel
Identifying Insights and Ideas: You could do a lot worse than spending an hour identifying the trends and factors that impact your client’s businesses, the potential implications of those factors, and your perspective on what it is going to require of them to change. Extracting the insights inside your four walls by having individual salespeople share what is already compelling their clients to change allows the entire sales force to have access to these ideas and leverage them in their sales conversations.
Trading Value: One of the more challenging results for salespeople to produce is new meetings. The outcome is made more challenging when the salesperson doesn’t offer a value proposition that resonates with the contacts they are pursuing. A meeting to identify what information and ideas would provide a value proposition strong enough to gain the first meeting can improve the number of meetings—and the quality of those meetings.
Best Sales Meeting Topics for Early Sales Conversation
Helping Your Client Discover Something About Themselves: One of the things that define a sales approach as being modern is that the discovery conversations help the contacts of your prospective client company to discover something about themselves and their business. An hour spent identifying what you would have to provide your contacts that would allow them to recognize where better results are available is an excellent use of time. It helps salespeople to have the kind of conversations that lead to new opportunities and position the salesperson to win their business.
Creating Great Questions: This meeting topic pairs nicely with all of the above meetings. One of the ways you know you have helped your client with a new view of their business, their challenges, or their opportunities is when they respond to a question with, “That’s a really good question.” For sixty minutes, identifying a set of questions designed to expose an area where your contacts need to realize there is something they may need to address enables the sales force to establish themselves as peers and consultative salespeople. This kind can help with better results.
Controlling a Nonlinear Process: The sales conversation no longer seems to follow the sales processes as they are designed. However, the nonlinearity of the conversation doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have the conversations and produce the outcomes that are nested under each stage of your sales process. Controlling the nonlinearity means identifying the conversations and commitments your clients need to make to make a good decision. Spending an hour exploring what commitments you need to acquire is time well spent. (See The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales).
Best Sales Meeting Topics for Middle Stage Sales Conversations
Acquiring Additional Stakeholders: One of the major changes in consultative selling and B2B sales is the need to help the client build consensus. To have any hope of consensus for you and your solution, you will first need to determine who the necessary stakeholders are and how to gain access to them. A sales meeting is a perfect forum to discuss who needs to be included, what value they need you to create for them by their role, and how best to engage them. Using your past deals to reverse-engineer wins and losses can help determine who you need and what they need from you.
What Is Working Now: In complex sales, you often provide a range of different solutions to your clients to help them produce better results. Identifying what is working for some clients and why can help other people make the same recommendation when the circumstances suggest that approach. Identifying what isn’t working and what circumstances cause it to fail to produce better results can prevent making recommendations that are not likely to work for the client, were they to buy it from you.
Best Sales Meeting Topics for Late-Stage Sales Conversations
Enabling and Empowering Negotiations: One of the worst things a salesperson can do is tell their client that they have to go back and talk to their sales manager to negotiate on behalf of their client. Telling the client you need to get permission to negotiate means the salesperson is negotiating on behalf of the client and not their company. In about an hour, you can create a structure that enables and empowers the sales force to defend the investment you need, and when making concessions, to ask for something of equal or greater value to your company.
Resolving Concerns: We used to talk about “overcoming objections,” but that language is no longer as accurate as “resolving concerns.” One of the reasons your sales force loses deals in the latter stages of the sales conversation is that they don’t elicit or address the concerns their contacts have about the change they are making, their certainty in the solution, and the choice of your company as a partner. In a sales meeting, you can bring awareness to the common concerns that your contacts have expressed in the past and what strategies worked to resolve the concerns and allowed the contacts to move forward.
How Do We Win: There is every reason to explore how and why you won deals. There are clues as to what was compelling enough to cause the client to decide to change, why they believed your solution was the right solution, and what the salesperson had to do to win the business. What makes this meeting more powerful is challenging the sales force to determine what role luck played and what part of it was the excellent salesmanship that resulted in the win. When you find something repeatable—or something that provides a new choice—you enable others with a new approach.
Your meetings should provide your sales force with the mindset, the skill sets, and the tools necessary to create value for your clients, create new opportunities, and win big deals. Use your team’s time wisely by creating a value proposition for the meeting that is undeniably helpful.
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