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The National Sales Meeting has always been a critical time for organizations to connect strategy to goals and prepare their sales teams for a successful year. That vital connection is still needed, and arguably even more crucial than ever due to the changes and stresses of 2020. Plus, given the status of COVID-19, it’s very likely that you have already decided to hold your 2021 meeting virtually.

This meeting might be the most important one you’ve ever planned. Leaders have seen significant disruption in the way their industry functions, and it’s essential to create a sales meeting that prepares your people for success. How do you do this in a virtual environment with leaders who already complain of ‘zoom fatigue’? 

A virtual Sales Meeting probably conjures up stress, change, the unknown, fatigue, resiliency, virtual skills, engagement, and inspiration. If you would use any of those words to describe your state of mind, you’re not alone. It’s a challenge to create the right content, delivered by the right people in the right way in a live environment, even more so in a virtual one.

Over the years, we’ve had the chance to help create strategy, experiences, and content for all sizes’ sales meetings. As we’ve begun to engage clients for their 2021 sales meetings, we’ve centered our conversations around two fundamental principles.

Guard your time

Everyone wants the opportunity to share their priorities with your sales team. As you begin to plan, you’ll be bombarded with requests from marketing, fleet safety, compliance, sales analysts, sales training, HR, and others. As always, time is your most precious commodity and even more so in the virtual environment. You must make the most of every minute – delivering the right content and eliminating the rest (or looking at alternative deployments strategies).

If you plan to hold a virtual event, there’s no way you can program the traditional 8-hours of content each day plus evening activities. There is zoom fatigue, time zones conflicts, and home pressures in a virtual environment that differ from when we are in-person. We recommend a max of 4-hours of live content daily. The remainder of the time would be utilized and designed customized to your culture – varying across team connection, off-technology preparation and action planning, and the vital white space for personal needs.

A virtual event requires both the right programming and the right platform. We learned this recently when our CEO, Doreen, had the opportunity to present a training session at SHRM Atlanta. The session was pre-recorded with a current hot topic (EQ) for which HR professionals were clamoring. The platform allowed Doreen to interact with the participants throughout the session. This combination created a robust online experience.

If you are one of the lucky organizations holding an in-person live meeting, nothing should trump human connection. The entire session should center on the human element – anything that can be done virtually gets filtered. Given the months of isolation, the last thing your sales reps need is more talking heads and didactic conversation. Incorporate role play, best practices, opportunities for sharing, and activities that allow for lots of interaction and reconnection.

Practice the Art of Essentialism

Practicing essentialism means that we narrow our focus to the few things that matter in moving our organization forward. Essentialism is always the best practice for the most effective leaders, but it’s more important than ever as you plan your next sales meeting.

Choose no more than three objectives for your next sales meeting. These objectives should be tied to problems and priorities. What problem are you trying to solve? What priorities need an alignment? It could be related to overall goals, developing skills, or training people to sell a product. Don’t allow anything else to make its way onto your agenda.

Think about what you can move outside of your National Sales Meeting. Can you offer a series of self-directed learnings, pre-recorded sessions, or virtual brainstorming sessions before the event? Be careful that you don’t add more to an already full week. Schedule time for that in people’s weekly schedule.

Make every component of your meeting interactive. Lectures without connection are simply a waste of your valuable time. Even your keynote should incorporate some interactivity. If you cannot go live, this is again where the right platform combined with the right content plays a key role. Make sure you’re investing in both as you plan for your meeting.

As we’ve been working with clients on 2021 Sales Meetings, we’ve been working to find the right platform and creative ways to deliver the content. Virtual doesn’t need to be a series of talking heads. There are ways to create a very interactive online experience using the right technology and production.

Plan less. Interact more. Make your 2021 sales meeting a success.

Author Riverbend

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