How to Increase Sales Productivity During Off-Peak Seasons

sales productivity

By Shayla Price

Every sector has peaks and valleys. It’s just a given. So, how can sales leaders keep sales productivity high throughout the year?

How your business handles the off-peak seasons will determine if you miss or exceed your annual sales goals. And that all starts with increasing sales productivity. Here are a few strategies to maximize your team’s success.

Automate Sales with Branded Templates

According to the 2016 Ultimate Marketing Automation Stats by Emailmonday, 55 percent of B2B companies already use automation. The other 45 percent are missing an opportunity to be more effective.

Take advantage of using professionally-branded company templates. They help automate document management. Therefore, your sales team can focus on closing deals, not complying with marketing standards.

“Automating as much of the template deployment process as possible is the ideal solution,” writes Henrik Printzlau, CTO at Templafy.

Give your sales team the ability to access documents on demand in an organized system. A document management solution will help maximize performance.

Boost Productivity with Account Management

Account management tools assist your team by providing accurate forecasting. This saves your business time and resources. These tools will uncover revenue-generating patterns for your company – and bring valuable insight to develop a more effective sales process.

Moreover, with automated apps, important customer details can be delivered directly to your sales reps’ mobile devices. Deal tracking and account history ensure all team members receive the most up-to-date information.

Let your sales team focus on building the customer relationship. Technology will handle the rest.

Keep Sales Teams Accountable

Tracking sales performance from week to week is vital for management. Managers need to know how to adjust their strategies during slow and busy sales periods.

Online platforms offer businesses the ability to connect with sales rep performance in real time. It’s easier for sales leaders to track daily, weekly, and monthly goals.

Most sales activity management systems include performance data collection, historical trend tracking, personalized analytics, and peer comparisons. In addition, you can create customized campaigns to raise morale with team competitions.

You want a 360-degree view of your enterprise. Invest in an interactive dashboard for easy communication and on-the-go sales management.

Be Social Online and Off

Based on the 2016 State of B2B Marketing report by Regalix, 74 percent of companies plan to increase their events budgets this year. Social events are essential for connecting with prospective customers and generating leads. Off-peak seasons are ideal for planning conferences, trade shows, and online Webinars.

Also, consider hosting internal events. Facilitate sales training to transform good sales reps into great sales leaders.

Bring it All Together

Integrating your entire sales process helps with efficiency. Seek all-in-one solutions that allow you to combine pipeline and project management. These tools enhance productivity by aligning functions within one interface. Then, your team doesn’t have to jump back and forth between multiple software programs.

Managers desire a more collaborative work environment. So, shift from scattered resources to a streamlined software.

Stay Productive

Give your sales team an advantage during off-peak seasons. Focus on upgrading your sales productivity activities. Generate sales all year round.

ShaylaPriceShayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice.

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How to Tell If Inside Sales is Right for Your Organization

inside sales call center

By Alison Brattle

The structure of most sales organizations hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. The average organization is made up of a number of sales reps working in the field, who meet face-to-face with current and prospective clients. Those field reps are supported by additional staff members and “inside reps” who complete the internal work associated with completing the transaction.

However, that’s slowly changing. Organizations are transitioning their sales staff members from working as external reps in the field, to internal office-based reps who work primarily via phone and email. The inside reps are no longer support staff who do the “back end” work – they’re now the people who are actually closing deals.

One study by Steve W. Martin surveyed over 100 vice presidents of sales at leading service providers and tech companies and found that 46 percent of sales teams had shifted from the external to the internal model. However, 21 percent had done the opposite, moving from an internal sales model to an external field model. So, while there is some shift either way, there was more than twice as much movement from external to internal – a clear indication of a trend.

The Advantages of an Internal Sales Team

There are some big advantages to be gained from shifting to an internal sales model. One of the biggest is that sales rep training becomes much more effective with an inside model. Under the external model, sales reps don’t necessarily come into contact with one another on a regular basis; but, with reps working internally in the same office space, it’s much easier to provide sales training for new reps, share “best practice” sales tips, and disseminate new information.

According to Steve W. Martin’s survey, 84 percent of respondents who shifted from an external to an internal sales model cited these and similar benefits, as well as this:

  • 79 percent said the internal model provided for more rapid growth of the organization
  • 76 percent said the internal model was more effective for reaching mid-markets and small businesses
  • 78 percent reported increased call activity and volume of sales

Is the Internal Sales Model Universally Superior?

These are some exciting statistics, which definitely point to the value of internal sales, but it’s important to note that this isn’t the best solution for all organizations.

For example, for a newly-established organization, it’s often more prudent to adopt an external model to more effectively build the personal relationships sales reps rely on. As the organization expands, switching to an internal model may become more fruitful, since it provides the ability to integrate new staff more effectively and allows for more rapid growth.

Another highly influential factor is the complexity of the organization’s sales cycle – how many individuals are involved, purchase size and value, and the complexity of the product itself. An enterprise sale cycle, for example, is a long cycle based on high-value purchases involving multiple individuals at various levels of the organization. In these cases, external sales are necessary – again, because selling extremely high-value products over a long period of time is something that relies on the development of more personal business relationships and networking.

On the other hand, a short and simple sales cycle is where the internal model really shines: high volumes of low-value sales, where the customer’s purchasing decisions are made by a single department or individual.

Choosing the right model is key to any business’s growth and future profits objectives. However, in many cases, a mixture of both models is needed at various periods of time in the organization’s cycle. The most important element to consider is timing – when to implement the model (or models) that fit with the company’s current goals and capacity.

selling power magazine

Alison BrattleAlison Brattle is a marketing manager at AchieveGlobal UK, a global sales training and leadership development firm based in London. It specializes in providing exceptional sales coaching and helps organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Find her on LinkedIn.

[Image via Flickrplantronicsgermany]

Three Things That Will Boost Your Brainstorming Meeting with Reps

brainstorming meetings

By Lisa Gschwandtner

As a sales leader, you want to welcome new ideas and innovation. Unfortunately, during meetings, many leaders can’t see past what Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, coauthors of  Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, call “behavioral blind spots.”

In their book, Stone and Heen discuss the case of “Zoe,” who prided herself on the way she nurtured her team’s creativity during weekly brainstorming meetings. She didn’t realize, however, that people called her Annie Oakley behind her back. “As in, ‘she shoots down every idea,’” write Stone and Heen.

Zoe might never have become aware of the problem had she not decided to have a team member record a few of their meetings using a smartphone. “Zoe was stunned when she listened to the recording,” they write. Here are some of the phrases she heard herself utter:

“Here’s why I doubt that can work.”

“Here’s what I’m worried about.”

During brainstorming meetings, you might think you’re setting high standards or providing constructive feedback when, in fact, others see you as hypercritical. Try these three tips for leading a terrific brainstorming session.

Tip #1: Don’t worry about controlling the meeting.

Zoe truly believed in the benefit of new ideas. The problem was that she was afraid of wasting time during the meetings. Remember, creative energy needs room to breathe. Allow the ideas to flow, and stop worrying that you need to keep the meeting on track.

Tip #2: Stay open, positive, and curious.

Negativity quickly stifles creativity. Even if you can tell that an idea is not going to work, avoid saying so right away. Instead, see if you can pick one aspect of the idea that you immediately like, and focus on that.

For example, if someone suggests a customer-loyalty initiative but you can tell the plan is going to be prohibitively expensive, you might respond by saying, “What I like about this idea so far is that it addresses our key accounts. Let’s see if we can build on that.”

Brainstorming sessions are not the time to challenge ideas. There will be plenty of time to apply critical thinking after you develop ideas more and decide if you want to pursue them.

Tip #3: Plan ahead to capture ideas.

Although it’s ideal to let ideas flow freely, the lack of structure can sometimes mean that ideas become lost once everyone goes back to their desks. If this happens more than once, your team members are likely to be left feeling as though you’ve wasted their time. As a result, they might invest less effort in volunteering ideas.

Ask a good note-taker who’s not a core part of the team to attend the meeting and devote his or her full attention to capturing the ideas. Before the meeting ends, review the notes aloud to make sure they’re accurate and reflect the spirit of the discussion.

If you’re a sales leader, remember that your tone, attitude, and behavior sets the tone for the rest of your team. Also bear in mind that the way you perceive yourself is not necessarily the way others perceive you. Even if you don’t have doubts about how you’re coming across, try recording a meeting or two the way Zoe did. That way, you’ll hear the evidence for yourself.

How do you encourage the free flow of ideas when brainstorming with your sales team? 

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Lisa Gschwandtner

Lisa Gschwandtner is Editorial Director at Selling Power and Media Manager of the Sales 2.0 Conference. Find her on Twitter @SellingPower20.

[Image via Flickr /nhuisman]

Six Tips to Enhance Your One-on-One Coaching Meetings with Salespeople

coaching sales business Which of the following statements best describes your opinion, as a sales leader, of one-on-one meetings?

  • They’re the best way to stay connected to salespeople and drive pipeline opportunities forward.
  • They’re a low-value activity and should be skipped when more important priorities pop up.
  • They’re a dreaded but necessary evil.

Your answer probably depends on whether you have a defined coaching process to get the most out of these meetings. According to a sales-culture survey of more than 300 sales organizations across North America, which Fusion Learning conducted in 2013, nearly all sales leaders (97 percent) had one-on-ones with team members, yet 40 percent rated themselves 6 out of 10 or lower at conducting these meetings.

At Fusion, we liken one-on-one meetings that lack a defined process to the old sleight-of-hand “shell game.” In the shell game, the salesperson predicts which opportunities his or her manager will ask about (what shell will be lifted) and comes prepared with excellent examples of what’s been done to advance those particular opportunities. It doesn’t matter whether the examples are outdated. As long as the sales manager is satisfied, the salesperson can carry on with the status quo.

I speak from experience. My first sales manager and I met every Monday morning. These meetings were very friendly; we discussed accounts and I provided updates. I shared what I thought I was supposed to share. In retrospect, I realize we were playing the shell game. We would move the shells around looking for the pebble that wasn’t there. There was little coaching value in these meetings for either one of us.

Two years later, a new sales manager was assigned to our team. These meetings were similar but with one difference: he took notes and put them in a file folder labeled with my name. The next week, when he inquired about an account, I told a story similar to the previous week’s. He referenced his notes and I started to squirm a little.

“No worries,” he said. “Let’s discuss how you are going to move it forward this week.” Silly me – I showed up on week three and tried a similar tack. He was nice about it, but I realized the game had changed, and I needed to follow through on my commitments. My manager helped me and the rest of the team win business by staying focused and accountable. No more shell game.

At Fusion Learning, we know that world class one-on-ones are about dialogues and not two concurrent monologues. The conversation must meet these goals:

  • Focus simultaneously on business priorities and the individual salesperson.
  • Look to the future and not just backward at past performance.
  • Be strategic first and tactical second. Too often, one-on-ones take a tactical and operational approach. There must be a balance with a strategic perspective.
  • Hold the meetings at predictable and consistent intervals. Salespeople thrive on a steady, predictable cadence, helping them stay focused and remain accountable.

Here are six specific steps to help you conduct more productive, collaborative, and successful one-one-one meetings with your salespeople.

  1. Big Picture – Start the meeting by connecting with the salesperson and asking a high-level, strategic question. For example, you could ask him or her to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 his or her stress level or performance. It is not about the number, it is about the dialogue that results from the number.
  2. Green Flags – Ask the salesperson to share two recent accomplishments or actions he or she is proud of (for example, closing a deal or getting great feedback from a customer on a proposal). Then share two things the salesperson did that week that you’re proud of (for example, securing a meeting with an elusive prospect or updating opportunities in the CRM system). Discuss, give praise, and allow the salesperson to celebrate the successes achieved since you two last met.
  3. Red Flags – Next, follow the same process as in the Green Flags step, except this time focus on things the salesperson will improve. The salesperson should begin, “Here’s what I think I need to improve or do differently,” and then you can offer your own perspective. Help your salesperson create an action plan for improvement.
  4. Customers/Pipeline/Activities/Results – The trick here is to remain focused on all aspects of the salesperson’s activity – researching, prospecting, holding meetings, writing proposals, and closing – as opposed to locking in on one specific deal in the pipeline. (By the way, many sales leaders skip the first three steps and start here at the tactical level. Don’t do that.)
  5. Help Needed – Keep track of the commitments you make to help the salesperson, and follow through with them.
  6. Action Plan – During the meeting, note any action to which the salesperson commits. At the end of the meeting, have the salesperson repeat these commitments. Let him or her know you will review the action plan at your next meeting.

To learn more about how you can improve your one-on-one coaching meetings, check out chapter 5 of Fusion Learning’s book, Engage Me: Strategies from the Sales Effectiveness Source. It includes best practices, examples, and a template to use in structuring your meeting.

Alyson Brandt Fusion Learning Alyson Brandt is president of Fusion Learning USA.


[Image via Flickr / Peter Hayes]

10 Signs You’re a Great Sales Manager


If you agree with these statements, you’re performing exceptionally well in all your roles as manager. If you come up short, it might be time for a management course or a conversation with your own manager to determine how you can do better.

  1. I know what motivates my salespeople.
  2. I’m familiar with their challenges, both professional and personal.
  3. I’m skilled at managing my time.
  4. I’m skilled at organizing my sales team.
  5. I’m a great salesperson, but I don’t step on my reps’ toes when they’re trying to close.
  6. I’m firm but fair.
  7. I always deliver on my promises.
  8. I create a positive environment for my team.
  9. I listen more than I speak.
  10. I act quickly when problems arise, and I challenge my team to come up with solutions.

Adapted from The Essential Sales Management Handbook, by Gerhard Gschwandtner. 

Most Excellent Sales Leader: Claire Edmunds

Most Excellent Sales Leader Selling PowerThis feature provides a snapshot of a successful B2B sales leader and his or her accomplishments. To submit a candidate for consideration, email with the subject line “Most Excellent Sales Leader.”

Selling Power Most Excellent Sales Leader Clare Edmunds Job title: Company founder and CEO

Company: Clarify Solution Selling Ltd., which is headquartered in the United Kingdom

Selling Power (SP): How long have you been in sales?

Fifteen years, and prior to this, five years in fundraising

SP: How many reps do you lead and/or manage?

Clarify is a sales organization. Our entire business is designed to partner with customers with high-value and complex sales processes, to support their goal to create a best-in-class business development capability. Having run a business-development maturity audit, we deliver a range of services to optimize the impact business development has on their enterprise field sales organizations, as evidenced by our work with Tier 1 technology vendors and services companies. Our team consists of 45 business-development managers and directors.

SP: What was the first job you were ever paid to do?

The first job I was ever paid to do was at the local chicken farm in the village where I grew up. It taught me that I never wanted to work with chickens! It was an interesting psychological exercise, as I started to appreciate how my body language affected the behavior of the birds, especially the cockerels, who clearly saw me as competition and would attack if they saw fear! I quickly learned to keep eye contact and move as fast as I could. Later, as I started to explore body language and nonverbal communication in more depth, I was able to reflect on that experience and how our behavior affects our whole environment,not just the humans in it.

SP: What was one of your biggest selling disappointments, and what did it teach you?

When Clarify was set up in 2003, we sold to small, US-based, independent software vendors who were looking to build market share in Europe. These enterprises were all about top-line growth and acquiring customers, including turn-key customers, which would open new markets for them. Our business-development services were judged on how much sales impact we could deliver; we offered a great fit and had some very successful partnerships. When we went to sell to larger, US-based IT vendors, we could tell by the faces of the marketing VPs we met that our message was not working for them, since they were not targeted on pipeline contribution but on generating leads and contacts to fill a sales funnel. Our offer to reduce the volume of leads and increase pipeline conversion and contribution was met with cries of, “But why would we do that? Surely it is a sales job?”

We realized early on that we couldn’t make progress in this market and that, with a few exceptions, buyer behavior is strongly influenced by what is in the best interests of an individual, even when it makes no sense for the business! Thankfully the market has changed dramatically, and we are now successfully working with many blue-chip clients, marketing and sales organizations, to deliver a managed business-development service that is measured on pipeline contribution and aligned to strategic business objectives centered on increasing multiproduct, high-margin sales.

SP: What professional or personal achievement are you most proud of?

I have four beautiful children, and I hope that they would say I am a very present and involved mother. I have worked very hard to be able to give enough to the family and get the balance right alongside a busy and demanding career. I recognize that this is a challenge faced by every parent, not just mothers, and only time will tell whether I got it right, but I hope that I have inspired my children to believe that we can manage our family, relationships, and careers in a fulfilling way that makes a positive contribution to the world.

SP: Share your best tip for managing people.

Cast people well from the beginning, i.e., set them up for success. Always look for and expect the best in people, give specific and honest feedback, and take it personally by enjoying the process of contributing to their success and learning together from their failures. Modify your management and development approach to get the best out of individuals, and set expectations and standards high but within reach. Watch what your best people do best, and use this to develop best practices. When people let you down, and they will, don’t allow yourself to become jaded or cynical; open yourself up for it to happen all over again.

SP: What motivates you to succeed?

Doing a good job, [having] a purpose, and the excitement of seeing how far something or someone can go.

SP: Name at least one leader you admire and why.

My children’s primary school runs a leadership program that encourages all the children to become leaders. This [program appeals] to the leader in each child and sets out how to demonstrate leadership qualities, such as showing courage, motivation, respect, collaboration, and trust. I am hugely encouraged to see the impact this has had on my own children’s understanding of what it means to become a leader, and I greatly admire the headmaster of the school for encouraging the next generation to understand what leadership really means.

SP: What sales-technology tools are your sales reps using right now, and what are the benefits?

My team uses a huge variety of online tools to access and build intelligence and knowledge about the organizations that they are targeting, from professional networking sites to company search tools to online publications, etc. Today, technology is sold to address the needs and issues of the business; buyers are highly educated and don’t want salespeople to sell to them. They want and need help to understand how they can change their current situation to resolve today’s business issues and deliver the future state their business requires. Through multichannel research, our business-development managers access a huge amount of information to equip enterprise salespeople with the information they need to design specific business and uses that enable them to engage senior stakeholders.

Connect with Claire on LinkedIn.

[Image via FlickrBrad.K]

Four Ways Sales Leaders Can Motivate Their Millennials

By Josiane Feigon

So you think you know who your top performers are?

The Bridge Group and VorsightBP studied more than 2,000 sales professionals, including individual contributors, front-line managers, and directors. The study focused on the management qualities of and tactics used by the most motivated and enthusiastic employees. In the area of job satisfaction,

  • forty-five percent of respondents were “detractors,” or the least likely to recommend a role in their organization to a colleague or friend;
  • twenty-eight percent were “passives” who were not enthusiastic about recommending a role to a colleague or friend;
  • twenty-seven percent were “promoters” who were enthusiastic about recommending a role.

The study identified four keys to successfully motivating sales reps, focusing on motivational influencers:

  1. “My manager is hardly available for any coaching.” Reps who reported more than three hours of coaching per month were twice as likely to be promoters. The catch: the reps reported 40 percent fewer hours per month spent on coaching than their managers reported, so reps are not perceiving the same value in the coaching that managers see. Managers should make it a priority to get in sync with their teams on this topic.
  2. “What’s next after I accomplish that?” Identifying skill-development goals will make reps three times more likely to be promoters, according to the study. Reps (and this is especially true of your Millennials) really value a sense of progression and achievement in the workplace. If a rep has a development goal in mind, and he or she is receiving regular coaching to get there, then the rep is going to be much less likely to get antsy and feel like it’s time to move on.
  3. “Can you explain my comp plan to me one more time? I don’t get it.” Three out of every 10 reps in the study reported being unclear about their incentive-compensation plan, a state that correlated to a 300 percent drop in engagement (i.e., they were three times less likely to be promoters). Three out of 10 isn’t overwhelming, but considering how motivation – or the lack thereof – is contagious on the sales floor, it’s definitely enough to be influential.
  4. “I’ve been here for three months and believe I’m ready for the next step.” The study reported a significant gap between reps’ expectations about when they should be promoted to a new role. The less experience the rep had, the less time he or she thought it should take. This is a frequently cited issue when managing new hires who are Millennials. It’s also a major reason why having early conversations about career-path expectations is one major motivation factor cited in this study.
Josiane Feigon
Today’s post is by Josiane Feigon, author of Smart Sales Manager
Smart Selling on the Phone and Online and founder of TeleSmart Communications.

Four Things CEOs Need to Understand about Sales Management

By Gretchen Gordon

CEOs sales managers

The most productive, world-class organizations have dedicated sales managers, but not every CEO understands how to make the most of this very important role. Here are four things executives need to understand about the role of a dedicated sales manager.

1. Think before you promote your best sales rep to a management role. The role of sales manager requires a significantly different skill set from the role of a salesperson. In salespeople, we are seeking some combination of skills that might include hunting, qualifying, selling consultatively, closing, farming, and account managing. In sales managers, we seek the skills of coaching, motivating, holding salespeople accountable to behaviors, and recruiting. Evaluate sales-manager candidates for specific sales manager skill sets.

2. Hold your sales manager accountable. Both you and your sales manager need to focus on four disciplines: goals, pipeline management, activity, and coaching – but at different levels. For example, when the sales manager asks each salesperson about items in the pipeline, you need to request that the sales manager report back to you about the health and predictability of the pipeline. Make sure he or she supports each opportunity’s position in the pipeline. Ask the sales manager specific questions regarding the activity of the team. (For example, ask if the team had 20 first appointments this week. If not, why not? What is going to be done differently next week?) This reinforces the questions the sales manager should be asking of each salesperson each week.

3. Be smart about the way you compensate your sales manager. It’s rarely productive to ask sales managers to sell in addition to manage a team. If it is more lucrative for the sales manager to close his or her own deals as opposed to growing revenue through the team, then the manager will be conflicted about where to spend his or her time. The manager may even compete with salespeople for deals. As CEO, you must be the sales manager to your sales manager, with scheduled weekly meetings about his or her behavior as a salesperson in addition to the scheduled meetings to discuss sales-management results. If you want the company to grow and the revenue base to increase, you will need to compensate the manager more for driving results through the team than for individual production. Here is a case study about how a sales manager who was also the top seller eclipsed the sales team until we helped realign his effort to drive more business through the team.

4. When necessary, know how to fill the role yourself. In smaller organizations, sometimes the CEO must function as the sales manager (click here for the CEO as Sales Manager Toolkit). To perform successfully in this role, you MUST

  • work with each salesperson to calculate what his or her activities need to be, and get agreement on a specific activity plan;
  • have frequent, scheduled meetings with all sales team members to focus their attention on the important activities for that day or week;
  • meet one-on-one with each salesperson on a weekly basis to hold each of them accountable for agreed-upon activities;
  • “pre-brief “and debrief sales calls to help team members improve;
  • go on sales calls to help coach team members (but refrain from taking over the call);
  • review each salesperson’s pipeline with him or her on a regular basis, and ask probing questions about each opportunity, e.g., “What is the agreed-to next step? What two deals are you going to move next week? This deal has been sitting here a long time; either move it or blow it up.”

If you cannot yet afford to employ a dedicated sales manager, make a specific, strategic plan for getting there. If you want to maximize sales growth, you must have a high-performing, dedicated sales manager.

Gretchen Gordon
Gretchen Gordon is founder and president of Braveheart Sales Performance, which improves the sales effectiveness of midmarket companies by transforming underperforming sales teams. Contact Gretchen at or 614-396-6544.

[Image via Flickr / inertia NC]

Manage Your Time in Four Simple Steps

time management
Image via

How much would you pay a consultant to help your managers become more efficient and effective?

In 1904,  Charles M. Schwab (then president of the second-largest steel producer in the country) asked public-relations pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee how his managers could manage their time more effectively. Lee sent the following list and told Schwab to send him a check for whatever he thought the adviceIvy Ledbetter Lee  was worth.

1. Make a list of the most important things you have to do tomorrow.
2. Arrange them in order of importance.
3. The next day, work on the most important task until it’s completed.
4. Tackle the other tasks in priority order.

Schwab knew the value of simplicity; he sent Lee a check for $25,000 (the equivalent of about $250,000 today).

How do you manage your time? What tools do you use to help you prioritize and get things done? Share your tips in the comments section. 

Eleven Ways to Run a Great Team Sales Meeting

By Josiane Feigon 

Salespeople know that every second spent away from sales-related activities impacts their ability to meet their revenue targets. You can’t just stumble into your next team meeting unprepared. At the same time, you should not think that meetings ought to give everyone a “Kumbaya” feeling, when everyone gets together to share success stories and daily challenges.

Good salespeople are good because they are productive and focused on quota attainment. When their daily activity is interrupted by needless, dull, and long meetings, they shut down. (As I explain in this video below, recently one manager told me he tries to keep his sales meetings “under two hours.” Two hours is way too long!)

Here’s the deal: call a team meeting only when you have something really important to say. Otherwise, just email your team and call it a day. Used wisely, team meetings can be a source of enormous influence for managers. Talent 2.0 is all about group dynamics, career advancement, acknowledgment, and breaking news updates. Use your meetings to send a unified message, make a statement, set the tone, and deliver your message loud and clear. Here are a few tips:

1) Start strong, stay strong.

YOU are in control of your sales meeting – and all eyes are on you. Your role is to facilitate healthy dialogue, inform your team, present new ideas, and encourage buy-in from team members. It all starts with you. Be prepared; don’t wing it.

2) Own your meeting space.

Remember, you own that conference room for the duration of your meeting. Don’t let anyone kick you out, and don’t get pushed out if the room is double booked. Just say, “Mine,” and use the room for whatever time you have in it.

3) Watch your body language.

Body language, or nonverbal communication, can speak much louder than words. It can make you look uncomfortable, stressed, distant, stiff, or stale. No matter what you say and what you want your meeting attendees to do, your body language may be screaming, “I’m outta here!”

4) Let your tone set the mood.

The last thing you want to be is boring. If your tone is too serious, you can throw your team members into the panic zone and prevent them from hearing what you’re saying. If your tone is too light, they might not take you seriously.

5) Make it all about the meeting agenda.

The more organized your agenda, the better your chances of creating a healthy discussion and getting your people to talk. Distribute an agenda in advance so that your team comes prepared, and ask team members to vote on a few ideas to help prioritize the flow. The more you can educate and reinforce concepts in your discussions, the more you demonstrate the desired behavior, the more it will all sink in.

6) Create cohesive team dynamics.

The life force of a team is so much stronger than each individual. The more you value your team members’ worth, the more they will outperform your expectations. Lift them up and hold high standards when it comes to creating a cohesive team dynamic.

7) Ask compelling questions.

“Any questions?” Forget asking that. Questioning and qualifying sits at the heart of your team’s sales effort, so you must model master questioning skills. The more compelling the questions you ask, the more you will encourage richer discussion and exchange of ideas. Ask open-ended questions but stay away from broad questions that require reflective contemplation.

8) Listen from the observation deck.

“Let me stop you right there – I know where you’re going on this one.” This manager just turned off the brains and ears of every rep in the room. If you want to build trust and commitment, you need to listen to what they say.

9) Set late penalties that sting.

“If you can’t make the meeting on time, the door will be closed and you can’t come in.”

Don’t you wish you could say that? You probably do, but it’s actually not the best strategy. Instead, try preventing tardiness by setting the ground rule: Be on time. It’s definitely not OK to roll in five or 10 minutes after the meeting starts with an excuse about not being able to end a call. Make sure everyone knows the ground rules beforehand so they have no excuses.

10) Invite compelling speakers.

Guest speakers should empower your team members, not bore them or make them angry, so choose carefully. If they don’t like the speaker, or if the speaker is boring or off track, it will reflect poorly on you. A great speaker shares power with you and helps you glow. Make sure that your invited speakers understand your group’s charter and knows your group’s world. Ask them to keep their remarks short and focused on benefits. You can help ensure this by giving speakers a seven-minute time limit to help them organize their presentation.

11) Close with energy!

“Alrighty, it’s time to end our meeting.” Look down at your laptop, put your papers in order… Wrong move. No matter how good your meeting is, if you don’t close with positive energy, you will inevitably lose some of the enthusiasm you worked hard to generate. Participants should leave the room with more focus, enthusiasm, and understanding than when they came in.

What do you think of these tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section.