Why Most Sales Team Meetings Are Awful and How to Fix That

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Last week I was in Chicago and San Diego leading sales leadership workshops for two different large companies. We had a blast and it’s energizing seeing sales managers get refocused and recharged.

What I always find intriguing is how interested managers are in one particular topic: help with upgrading their sales team meetings. It’s almost as if most managers have come to the place where they simply accept that their sales team meetings are awful and always will be. That’s silly. Let’s fix that – right now.

Before offering a few tips and potential agenda topics to supercharge your sales meetings, let’s take a quick look at why most of them are so awful:

  • They’re not really sales meetings. Oh, there’s a meeting, but very little of it has to do with how to sell (or sell more). It’s a status meeting, ops planning meeting, sales manager monologue on various topics, an admin-update meeting, a bitch session… But it’s definitely not a “sales” meeting.
  • Too little interaction + mostly one-way communication = lame, unhelpful meeting
  • Inappropriate venue for hard accountability. Lazy managers who don’t do 1:1 meetings cheat by doing cheap accountability in team meetings. I’m sorry but that’s just wrong. Reviewing results is one thing (and I’m a fan of that), but embarrassing and demeaning salespeople in a group setting is another.
  • Salespeople show up with lousy attitudes, are “present” but not really present. And too often, meetings devolve into negativity and bitch sessions.
  • Meeting for the sake of meeting with no clear objective and no good outcome.
  • Boooring. Same old same old. Zero excitement.

I could go on, but there’s no reason to. We’re all on the same page here. The bottom line is that in all of the cases described above and the many more running through your mind, the salespeople are leaving sales team meetings with less energy and no better equipped to sell than when they arrived for the meeting, and that’s pathetic – and stupid.

Sales Team Meetings Should Align, Energize and Equip the Team!

I have one very simple litmus test for sales team meetings? Do your people leave the meeting more aligned, more energized to sell, and better equipped to do their jobs? If the answer is no, then it’s time to make significant adjustments. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that until you get that figured out, I would suggest you stop meeting.

The entirety of Chapter 21 of Sales Management. Simplified. is devoted to helping supercharge your sales team meetings. Sales managers tell me that Chapter 20 (the 1:1 manager-salesperson results and pipeline-focused accountability meeting) and Chapter 21 alone are worth 100x what they paid for the book.

If you’re serious about upgrading your meetings, ask your best salespeople what they would like to see covered in team meetings, and inquire about what they have seen work well elsewhere.

Another key is for the manager to offload as much of the burden for the meeting as possible! I’m convinced the reason so many sales meetings are bad is because the manager owns too much of the meeting prep, content, and facilitation. Nowhere is it written that the manager must be solely responsible for everything surrounding the meeting. That’s ridiculous.

Here are a few suggestions for agenda topics to spice up your sales meetings:

  1. Success Stories – have reps brag about new deals, new clients acquired or major cross-sell/up-sell victories. Ask them to come prepared with details to share not just the “what” but the “how” so everyone benefits from the story.
  2. Best Practice Sharing – rotate through your various people who excel at different aspects of selling and the sales process. Give Susie ten minutes to coach the group on why she’s so effective at getting C-suite meetings. Ask Shawn to expand of why his lead conversion rate is double the average. Have Holly deliver an example of her drop the mic presentation that’s been closing business left and right.
  3. Book or Blog Review – have your team read a book. Before each meeting assign a chapter to discuss – and appoint a salesperson to lead/facilitate the discussion. Or rotate through each seller selecting a blog post relevant to a topic your team is facing and have the person send out the link with some primer question so reps come to the meeting prepared to discuss takeaways from the article.
  4. Practice! – I don’t like to call it role-play because of the awkward and negative feelings those words produce. So call it “practice.” But do it! Toss out real-life scenarios that happen on prospecting calls, discovery meetings, or during presentations and have team members practice right there in the meeting. Crazy thought, I know: salespeople actually practicing instead of just winging it.
  5. Non-Sales Inspiration – Bring in a war veteran or cancer survivor to share their story (and remind salespeople that they should stop whining about how hard sales is! Sales is not hard; war is hard. Cancer is hard). Or ask sellers to tell the group about a real hero in their lives who inspires them. Or rotate through sellers sharing some of their personal life philosophies that keep them motivated. Use video clips from movies or interviews with world-class athletes.

I’ve got one more stand-alone bonus tip: Do Something Different, Fun and Memorable (and check out one of my client’s incredible facilities)!

Get offsite and have some fun. Enough with lame team-building exercises that cause sellers to roll their eyes. Go racing at Autobahn Indoor Speedway. I’ve worked with this company and am blown away not just by their culture, engaged employees, and gorgeous facilities (which are perfect for combining rip-roaring fun and a meeting/training session if that’s your desire), but their $10,000 all electric go-karts are mind-blowing.
These things are the Ferraris of go-karting and their tracks have no speed limit. No. Speed. Limit! Looking to do something very memorable? Want a different experience that is guaranteed to create competition, trash-talk, and laughs that everyone will be talking about for months? Don’t want to worry about the weather or logistics? Trust me, this is a great venue for an offsite – for any team meeting, but especially for a sales team. And, yes, that’s me in the kart below. The COO at Autobahn was so far ahead of me that he’s out of picture! He skunked me on the track but I’m working on my game and cannot wait go back and improve my lap times. So, yes, this is unabashed and unashamed plug for my client. Take it from a car guy: you want to hold a meeting here! Look into Autobahn Indoor Speedway for your next event. They have 11 tracks, are growing like crazy, and adding new facilities on a regular basis.


Bottom line on sales team meetings: Share the load. Delegate portions of sales meetings to others. There are no points for managers carrying the entire burden for sales teams meetings. And there are negative points for conducting boring, useless, unhelpful, de-energizing meetings that sap the life out of your team.


I’m joining my friend, sales management guru, Steven Rosen, for what he’s calling a “fireside chat” next Monday, June 19th at 1:00pm EDT, Noon Central. We are going tackle “The Biggest Issues Sales Managers Face” for his Sales Experts Channel webinar. It’s free. We won’t be pitching anything, and I promise we will make you laugh and make you angry – maybe at the same time – while providing powerful perspective on the reality of sales management today. Join us for a lively cross-border dialogue on Monday. Register here. Steve is one of my favorite Canadians and my fantasy football rival. This will be entertaining!

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