Building Career Clout with Sales Meetings: 13 Killer-Karate Meeting Master Moves
By: John Mackenzie
|John Mackenzie is a self-employed corporate communications writer who has been creating sales meetings for 30 years. Those interested in learning more can check his website, The Writing Works, at www.thewritingworks.com or e-mail him at email@example.com
Dedicated to those who realize that meetings are more important for those
who give them, than they are for those who come to them.
- 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!
- Find out what your sales force needs. Famous career termination line: "I already know what my sales reps
- - Use focus groups to get at hidden agendas.
- Tap a sampling of territory reps for suggestions. Accept anonymous submissions.
- Encourage feedback via e-mail, intranet, or website.
- Review previous meeting scripts and speeches.
- Circulate a statement of meeting goals and objectives. This will reinforce your position, and flag 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.
- 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
- 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,
- Even if you've had a mediocre meeting there will be enthusiastic applause
to celebrate the end of an incredibly pedestrian event.
- 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.
- 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
- Don't hog the host slot unless you can pull it off. Over exposure diminishes
your impact. 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. Every sales meeting
has one or two. You'll know which they are. (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)."
- Announce sales awards soon after the meeting starts. Can't justify any? Make up some 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
- 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
- Furnish winners with some visible indication they won something so they
can be spotted easily, e.g. a medallion, blazer, badge, sash, carnation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- - 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
- For extended periods between graphics (more than 2 minutes) turn the room
lights back on. This change-of-pace, and viewpoint switch, keeps people
- 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
- 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
- If you've got the clout, videotape the whole meeting. Then edit and try
for a senior management screening of selected excerpts. Don't overlook
the value of some sales force video verite, "Great! Best sales meeting
we've ever had!"
- 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 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
- Figure out ways to extend meeting value, message,and impact after the meeting
- 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, observe, or advise. You'll lose
control while someone else gains it.