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How to Run an Effective Sales Meeting in Under 20 Minutes

Sales meetings are crucial to a sales team’s success … when done properly. But a poorly-run, disorganized meeting isn’t just inconvenient — it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

Over my career, I’ve learned how to run productive sales meetings that last 20 minutes — no longer. My system lets us cover all the bases without spending too much time on a single agenda item.

On my team, the overarching question for these meetings is, “How can you progress each deal as quickly as possible and stay on track towards your goal?”

Our sales meetings have two main focus points:

1. Ask for deal statuses.

The salesperson and I run through every deal in our CRM that’s about to close. They give me a status — for example, if we’re trying to sell to ACME corporation, I’ll ask the rep if they’ve reached out recently.

If they haven’t, I’ll ask a few simple questions about the deal. This typically instills some urgency around contacting the prospect. Then, we’ll cover deals in the earlier stages of the sales process.

2. Track progress on outreach.

Every rep’s goal is to reach out to 150 people per week over email or phone. During our meetings, I ask them how many emails and calls they’ve logged since our last meeting.

If necessary, look at the data to get an exact number. There’s a good chance your reps will either overestimate or underestimate how much work they’re doing.

This is how we do it:

Our reps use this Google Sheets template to track their work. We’ve set up conditional formatting rules so that if a salesperson reaches a target (let’s say, 200), the cell turns green.

sales meeting spreadsheet 1

The colors change depending on how far off-target someone is. It’s a gradual progression from red to green.

Results have improved since our salespeople started following this process. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of meetings they booked by filling in these documents.

Before we implemented this, we gave our sales team a goal — for example, booking two to three meetings per week.

sales meeting spreadsheet 2

Our new structure helps reps see exactly what they have to do every day. This makes executing much simpler and easier.

More importantly, it helps us keep our meetings short. All the information we need can be found in the document, so our meetings are locked in on what’s most important.

To see a full breakdown of this document and get it as a template, watch this video.

Any effective sales meeting starts with a focused, intentional agenda. Let’s take a closer look at the value and necessity behind that key component.

Weekly Sales Meeting Agenda

An agenda is the heartbeat of any productive sales meeting. Having a clearly defined, well-structured one will help your reps understand exactly what information they can expect to walk away from a given meeting with.

For most sales teams, weekly sales meetings are a place to discuss current sales deals, targets, and projects. These items should take up the bulk of your agenda. Here’s a suggestion for what yours might look like:

  1. Reviewing numbers from last week.
  2. Planning for this week.
  3. Answering any questions sales reps have.
  4. Discussion items (assigning specific tasks, etc).

Once you’ve set your agenda, send a calendar invitation to your team so they know when and where the meeting is taking place. Use the following tips to keep your meeting on track when the time comes.

1. Set an objective.

Setting clear objectives helps keep sales meetings short and focused. Remember, you’re asking your team members for their time — respect and acknowledge that by not taking too much of it.

So what’s the purpose of your sales meetings? It could be any of the following:

  • Getting everyone up to speed.
  • Reviewing project plans.
  • Setting and monitoring KPIs.
  • Resolving issues and tackling challenges.

Ideally, a sales meeting will have a single goal — but that can be hard to pull off. Still, as long as you’re tackling less than three objectives during each session, you can reliably and consistently conduct effective meetings.

You can use a meeting agenda template to outline these goals and share it with your team beforehand so everyone’s on the same page about what to expect in a meeting.

sales meetingDownload for Free

2. Share the agenda.

We’ve already touched on how important concise, well-planned agendas are when it comes to running effective sales meetings — but simply putting an agenda for a meeting together and holding onto it won’t do too much for you.

You need to share those plans with your team ahead of time. When attendees know what your meeting is about, they’ll be better prepared and more inclined to engage in meaningful discussion.

Provide an agenda in the calendar invite for a meeting. This gives your reps time to do their homework, so they’ll come with ideas and relevant questions. Ideally, you’ll put together a consistent agenda with updated information for your meetings every week — that kind of continuity will let your meetings run as efficiently as possible.

3. Create meeting norms and establish expectations.

Your team should have a set of agreed-upon meeting norms and expectations that everyone abides by for maximum productivity.

Make sure your meeting norms outline the roles and responsibilities of everyone in attendance to help minimize the chaos that large teams are usually susceptible to. Here are some meeting norms and expectations that may be helpful for your sales team:

  • Sales team meetings will start and end on time.
  • All team members are expected to come prepared to discuss meeting agenda topics.
  • Team members are to stay on track.
  • We will engage in one conversation at a time.

Based on your sales team’s dynamic and current meeting style, you can adjust these expectations as needed.

4. Facilitate the conversation to keep things on track.

We’ve all attended meetings that have gone off the rails a bit — ones where the agenda wasn’t followed and the main objectives of the meeting weren’t addressed.

It might go without saying, but you need to do what you can to avoid that kind of chaos and the unproductivity that comes with it. If you want to keep things on track, have a facilitator oversee your meetings to ensure your reps remain focused and discuss the agenda items at hand.

What if one of the team members raises a critical topic? If it’s related to the agenda, address it. But set a time limit for those kinds of discussions, and be prepared to quickly get back to the core points of the meeting.

You can also implement a “parking lot” where someone from the team writes down important topics for the team to follow up on at a later date.

5. Have reps provide relevant data before the meeting.

Does your agenda include information that needs to be prepared or presented by sales reps? If so, make sure you have a process in place for how you can gather this information beforehand.

This might include having a standard deck that you share with reps asking them to update their information the day before the meeting. When you have the materials you need from reps ahead of time, you aren’t cutting into precious meeting time looking for files or data.

6. Share action items and next steps.

So you’ve successfully run an efficient sales meeting with your team — congratulations. But what happens when it ends?

A sales meeting should always end with an action plan. If it doesn’t, it’s not truly productive. Your reps must walk away with an achievable goal in mind. Then, in the next meeting, you can discuss whether they’ve achieved it.

Here are a few examples:

  • Get the client to the proposal stage.
  • Land on a defined budget.
  • Identify and book a meeting with the decision-maker.

Make sure you incorporate these items into your next meeting agenda for continuity.

Preparing for an Internal Sales Meeting

1. Determine whether this meeting needs to happen.

“This could have been an email.”

Those six words can frustrate your team members and undermine their faith in your management if they’re said consistently. Some information doesn’t warrant taking time out of everyone’s schedule to sit down and talk out.

When you’re thinking about calling a meeting, consider whether your announcements lend themselves to constructive discussion, are urgent enough to need to be conveyed immediately, and can’t be effectively relayed in text or via a video service like Loom. If you determine that your messages meet that criteria, call a meeting. If they don’t, consider sending out an email.

2. Know what you’re trying to get across.

Every meeting you call should have a clear-cut purpose. You need to understand what you need to say, fold that into your agenda, and be prepared to keep your discussion both concise and informational. Your team’s time is valuable — make sure you’re not going to waste it.

3. Practice any sections that don’t require off-the-cuff discussion.

If your meeting is going to revolve around specific action items, make sure you drill down what you’re going to say to get them across. Take some time to rehearse those elements.

Like the point above, this one is all about time management. Trim as much fat from your meeting as possible — that starts with minimizing any room for rambling with practice and preparation.

4. Be prepared to enforce time restrictions.

Effective internal sales meetings are typically time-bound, and if you expect to have your team members plan around them, you need to respect their schedules. That means setting firm time constraints and abiding by them.

Try to frontload the key aspects of your agenda, and let the less important elements fall back a bit. If you notice you’re coming up on time, you need to be prepared to cut things off — and either save the ground you didn’t cover for next time or send that information out via email.

5. Invite the right people.

Will the information you cover in your meeting have legitimate implications for all your attendees? Will your sales org benefit from having the team members you tap in the room for your meeting?

Those are questions you need to consider before inviting someone to your meeting. As we’ve established, internal sales meetings can be a frustrating time drain when done wrong — with the potential to take a toll on morale — so make sure you’re only inviting your team members who stand to gain from it when you prepare.

How often should you have a sales meeting?

There’s no definitive answer to this question. The optimal frequency of your sales meetings will lean on factors like the size of your sales org, how your team is performing, what you want out of your meetings, and your company culture.

Effective sales management is a matter of striking a balance between trust and guidance. Scheduling too many meetings can make you come off as overbearing, but never booking too few might let your team’s performance get away from you.

As we touched on earlier in this article, weekly is often the sweet spot when it comes to sales meetings. But they can’t be too over-the-top or time-consuming — if they drag on, you’ll waste everyone’s time and your team’s morale might take a hit. So follow these tips to keep your meetings short and productive.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on January 4, 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Sales meeting playbook