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Ten Essentials for a Highly Engaged Sales Meetings Part I

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 Corporate Sales Retreats

One of the most successful companies to keep an eye on in 2012 is undoubtedly Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.  Not only do they make the best coffee on the planet, they do it in a socially responsible way, including making an enormous difference in the lives of the coffee growers and their communities.  Don’t be fooled by games in the stock market – keep an eye on their fundamentals.

I was asked to help them (for the sixth year) prepare for their annual sales meeting and I wanted to share some of the lessons learned over the last few years with them and other clients planning large meetings.

Ten Essentials for a Highly Engaged Sales Meeting: 1-3

1.      Fun – Nothing is more helpful at opening up the bandwidth of an audience than having fun. Laughter and humor generate tremendous safety in the venue and help an audience to open up, connect with each other and the speaker, and to create and sustain an attitude that supports engaged learning.  Do participants feel safe at the meeting?  If they don’t, their need to seek safety will serve to shut them down, reducing engagement, innovation, and active participation.

2.      Take Risks – Executives willing to take risks, even small ones can reap significant rewards.  For example, I was working with a group of executives getting ready for an up-coming sales meeting and one of them came in without any slides for me to review.  Nervously, he said he wanted to run an idea past me for his presentation of the firm’s financial performance.  “I was wondering,” he said, “what you would think of me singing the results.”  It took me a moment to process what that might look like.  “Sing the numbers,” I asked?  “Yes,” he said with a nervous chuckle.  “What exactly did you have in mind?” I wondered out loud.  And so we went through his idea.  It was risky, both for him as the professional standing in front of his audience and also for me as the communication consultant hired to make sure the overall program would be well received.  The result?  I got goose-bumps as he received a standing ovation after delivering the key financial indicators at the December meeting to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  It was just outstanding!  He has continued the tradition.  At subsequent meetings he has crooned as Elvis, and with a few colleagues he easily pulled off the Village People.  The entire national sales team now considers it one of the highlights of the annual meeting.  This risk paid off.

3.      Independent Review – When working with the unique personalities and power dynamics in an organization, it is almost impossible to offer the necessary direct and honest advice needed if the individual offering the advice is on the inside.  For example, I find that in every case where I have been called in to work on a major meeting involving presentations most of the people I work with want to know what others in the organization are thinking and presenting. In some cases I think this is driven my competitive pressure, in other cases presenters just want to know they are on the right track. As an outsider I do more than improve the content and quality of the presentation – I am also helping to share apparently non-porous information – which is critical for achieving better congruence in the presentations.

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