Warren Greshes Creating Killer Sales Meetings

What You Should Expect From Your Speaker

March 16, 2007

By Warren Greshes, CPAE

As a Meeting Professional, you know the performance of an outside speaker can make or break your meeting.  Outside of the decision making process, which becomes a little easier if you follow the advice in my first blog entry on choosing the right topics, once the speaker is hired, there are many things he or she can do to insure an outstanding performance. 

• Preprogram questionnaires are great, but nothing beats the personal touch.  Preprogram questionnaires are great, but only if used in addition to phone intake and needs analysis sessions (If the speaker is local, a face to face intake session would be perfect).  In my experience there are way too many things I can’t learn about a company from a preprogram questionnaire; plus a piece of paper can’t answer any questions I might have that come from the answers I’m reading.  With many clients, it could take more than one phone conversation. 

In the case of a sales meeting, while I will speak to the meeting planner, I find equally, if not more important to speak to a sales executive or two, in order to get deeper insight into the group, allowing me to customize my talk more effectively .

• Attend the function the night before.  I prefer flying in the day before my speech (I don’t trust the airlines that much), allowing me to attend any receptions and dinners clients might have.  Believe me; I’m not doing it for the hotel food.  I find it gives me a great opportunity to meet and get a feel for my audience.  If nothing else, it helps me find the good sports I can poke fun of, which is a great way to connect with the audience. 

• Attend any sessions going on before the talk.  If there are breakout sessions going on I’ll cruise in and out of them in order to learn more about the issues the audience face and what’s going on in their company, industry and with their clients.  I especially like to sit in on talks given by top executives that outline where the company’s been, where they are now and where they’re going in the future.  There is always something I hear in these sessions that I can use.

• Understand the Meeting Planner has enough to worry about.  Since a Meeting Planner’s job is all about putting out fires, while making sure nobody notices they’re happening, one of the speaker’s responsibilities is to make the Meeting Planner’s life easier.  Speakers should:

o Call just as soon as they check in, to let the Meeting Planner know they’ve arrived. 
o Check out the room where they’ll be speaking in the night before, to avoid any last minute set-up changes.
o Be down early the next morning to test the microphone and AV equipment making sure everything is in perfect working order. 

The way I figure it, the easiest way to get invited back, is to be a great guest.

Keep Your Audience Engaged and the Energy High

March 14, 2007

By Warren Greshes, CPAE

So much of what will determine a salesperson’s success is based on their attitude, commitment, enthusiasm and energy.  The way they feel about themselves, the company, the clients and the products and services they sell.  If they don’t believe in who they are and what they do; don’t expect the customers to believe it. 

Because of that, a killer sales meeting should be bursting with energy and enthusiasm.  Now, I know that’s hard to do; especially when people are cooped up in a hotel or conference center going from one session and meeting room to another, but there are certain little things a great meeting professional can do to keep that energy and enthusiasm at a high level.

• Make sure the room fits the audience.  The wrong size breakout or general session room can absolutely suck the energy right out of your audience.  Have you ever been to a sporting event where the stadium or arena was packed vs. being only half full?  The difference in energy both on the field and in the stands is staggering. 

As a speaker, I would rather speak in a room that’s too small for the audience and is bursting at the seams, rather a room big enough to seat 600 for a crowd of 300.  Your speakers and presenters feed off the energy of the audience and visa versa.   

• Put your speakers in the right time slot.  High energy speakers to open, close and in the dreaded right-after-lunch spot.  After dinner speakers should be light and humorous.  I am a high energy speaker.  While I use a lot of humor and consider myself a good story teller, I should not be put in the after dinner slot because of the content level of my talks.  I am not the light and airy type, yet I’ve had many companies who’ve wanted me in that slot (to answer your question, I either turn it down or convince them to put me in another slot).

In addition, watch where you place the afternoon break.  I’ve found that while audiences have less energy near the end of the day than at the beginning, their lowest energy level is right after lunch.  Try to place the afternoon break closer to the end of lunch than the end of the day.  Give your attendees a chance to get their second wind sooner rather than later.

• Don’t let the presentation materials become the presentation.  While Powerpoint is a great presentation tool, too many presenters use it as a crutch, rather than as an enhancement to their presentation.  Making a room full of salespeople read slides is pretty much the same thing as slipping knock-out drops into their water glasses.

• Motivation and inspiration is great; but motivation and inspiration with content is even better.  While salespeople want to be motivated, inspired and entertained; they also want to be informed.  Most salespeople are bottom line people.  They want to know “What 2 or 3 good ideas are you going to give me today, that I can implement tomorrow in order to start growing my business by the day after that.”

Creating Killer Sales Meetings

March 12, 2007

By Warren Greshes, CPAE

As someone who has been a keynote speaker at sales meetings on a local, regional, national and international level for twenty-one years, I am aware of the challenges faced by meeting professionals in planning and delivering a sales meeting that your audience will still be talking about by the time the next meeting rolls around.

It’s not just a matter of finding the best venue that fits the budget, coming up with activities that everyone will enjoy, or picking the right presenters and speakers.  To me, a big key to pulling off a memorable sales meeting, is the meeting planner’s ability to pick topics, themes and subject matter that meets the audience’s needs, while also hitting on the biggest issues and obstacles they face on an everyday basis.

If you really want to know what an audience of salespeople wants and needs, act like a salesperson and treat them as a client, because, after all, your audience is your client. 

Talk to them; find out what they do, how they do it and who they do it to.  You could send out surveys and questionnaires, but remember: these are salespeople.  The biggest reason they became salespeople was; they didn’t like to do homework in school and paperwork is not their favorite thing. 

The chances of you getting back a sufficient number of surveys and questionnaires are not very good.  Make the survey a part of your research mix, but also add some “High-touch.”  Here are three more things you can do to get the information you need to put on that killer sales meeting.

• Spend a day with a salesperson.  Go out with one of your salespeople on their sales calls for a day.  This will give you a tremendous feel, understanding and appreciation for what they do.  You’ll share the highs and the lows salespeople encounter on a daily basis.  See the emotional side of selling and find out how personal rejection can be.
• Spend a day with a Sales Manager.  As opposed to salespeople, being a good sales manager requires an entirely different set of skills.  What better way to understand those differences than to spend a day with a sales manager.  Pay attention to the interaction between the salesperson and sales manager.  Pick the sales manager’s brain about the strengths and weaknesses of his or her sales force.
• Attend a local sales meeting.  Most local, district or regional sales managers hold weekly or monthly meetings with their 5 to 10 salespeople.  Attend one or two of these meetings.  Listen for the issues that seem to be the most important.  These meetings can also be a good place to find in-house speakers.

None of these suggestions will be difficult to implement and I’ll guarantee the sales force will be impressed with your commitment to making their sales meeting memorable.         

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