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Black-Belt Sales Meeting Moves

... SALES MEETING ... (C) 1990John K. ... rights ... to those who realize that most sales meetings are more ... for those who give them, than they are fo

Copyright (C) 1990
John K. Mackenzie
All rights reserved

Dedicated to those who realize that most sales meetings are more important for those who give them, than they are for those who come to them.

1. Organize a program advisory committee. Let everyone know who's on it.

- If things go well, take credit as chairman.
- If the meeting bombs, share the blast and spread the fallout!

2. Find out what your sales force needs. Famous career termination line: "I already know what my sales reps want!"
- Try focus groups to get at hidden agendas.
- Tap a sampling of territory reps for suggestions.
- Encourage e-mail feedback.
- Review previous meeting scripts and speeches.

3. Circulate a statement of meeting goals and objectives. This reinforces your position and flags you as someone to watch.
- People hate defining goals and objectives. They'll be so glad you're doing it there's not much chance your choices will be challenged.
- You can always change your mind later. No one will remember what you said by the time the meeting takes place, anyway.

4. Be careful about advance publicity. Don't start taking credit for a great meeting until you've had one.
- A glowing preview in your company newsletter will surely backfire if your meeting does.

5. Always ask your boss to make a speech. And for God's sake get a microphone and sound system that work!
- Schedule the speech as the first thing in the meeting, or the last. First is good in case the rest of the meeting is a dog.
- Last is usually okay, too. Even if you've had a mediocre meeting there will be enthusiastic applause to celebrate the end of an incredibly pedestrian event.

6. Identify an alternate producer. If you're using an outside meeting producer, be sure you've identified at least one more who could handle your job in an emergency.
- If your first choice doesn't work, or goes out of business, you'll have a standby. This could save your meeting and your reputation.
7. Position yourself carefully. Give serious thought to when, and how often, you appear on stage. Pick and plan your shots.
- Never come on cold. Microphone tapping and "Can everyone hear me, out there?" is not exactly a leadership launch.
- An audio-visual intro works if it ends with your picture, name, and title.
- If using live talent, have them escort you to the lectern.
- A senior management videotape intro works.
- If budget's a problem, at least toss up a Powerpoint with your name and title.
- Don't hog the host slot unless you've got industrial strength charisma. Over exposure diminishes impact and magnifies blemishes. Managing two or three days of good introductory and transition material, plus your own presentation(s), is tough.
- Avoid introducing, or following, a weak presentation. (Give the job to someone who's after the same promotion you are.)
- Get yourself mentioned in other presentations. "As (your name) pointed out during last year's meeting" or "Later this morning you'll be hearing more about this from (your name)."

8. Announce sales awards soon after the meeting starts. Can't justify any? Make up reasons and pass them out anyway.
- Postponing recognition deprives recipients of additional time to enjoy congratulations, while relishing the anguish of those who were passed over.
- Give the award ceremony a name: President's Club, Winner's Circle, Top Performers, Quota Busters! so it will gain in sound what it may lack in substance.
- Hand out awards yourself. Or, if you have to, at least introduce the person who will. Don't miss the chance to be identified with this delivery of psychic largess.
- Furnish winners with some visible indication they won something so they can be spotted easily, e.g. a medallion, blazer, badge, sash, carnation (whatever.)
- Double the awards if your meeting has nothing new to say! This will shift attention from what's not being said to what has been done.

9. Feature somebody no one ever heard of. Pick out a bright staff support type and give them a five-minute shot at the lectern.
- A magnanimous move like this is what legends (yours) are made of. Not to mention what it does as an incentive back at the home office.

10. Don't get buried by graphics. Audio-visual types love assault-rifle graphic changes and special effects that convert your speech into a supporting sound track (and play hell with your budget).
- Begin your presentation without any graphics at all. Let the audience concentrate on you for a few minutes.
- Don't force visual support. Many presentations have areas that don't justify it.
- For extended periods between graphics (more than 2 minutes) turn the room lights back on. This change-of-pace keeps people awake.
- Fight hardware hypnosis. Video walls, laser lights, and hi-res TV projectors are often better for the producer's bottom line than your future.
- Schedule enough time for equipment setups and rehearsals: particularly yours!

11. Document and distribute. Videotape your speech. Have photos taken of yourself handing out awards.
- Get pictures into your company newsletter, and video clips in the employee newscast or website. Put photo blow-ups on your office wall and department bulletin-board.
- If you've got the muscle, videotape the whole meeting. Then edit and try for a management screening of selected excerpts. Don't overlook the value of some audience video verite, "Great! Best sales meeting we've ever had!"

12. Conduct a follow-up evaluation. Send out e-mail questionnaires; invite letters; encourage phone calls; have regional and district managers solicit comments.
- Feedback will flatter the people you ask, defuse gripes, and probably improve your next meeting.
- Circulate a response summary that makes you look good. Include a few complaints for credibility. Put your own spin on a meeting review for the company newsletter.
- Figure out ways to extend meeting value, message, and impact after the assembly is over.

13. Manage, don't just facilitate. To get a sales meeting working for you, you have to work for it. It's hands on time! Don't just delegate, coordinate, observeFind Article, or advise. You'll lose control while someone else gains it.
Additional sales meeting monographs can be found at:

Article Tags: Black-belt Sales Meeting, Black-belt Sales, Sales Meeting, Company Newsletter

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John Mackenzie is a combat-qualified, self-employed corporate communications writer/director. A 30-year veteran of conference-room script changes, he put two kids through college while underwriting dozens of Prozac prescriptions. He is one of the few writers that IBM honored by destroying 1,200 of his film prints. More can be learned by visiting his website at

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