Save your money on the over-priced narcissistic motivational speaker!
I apologize; I’m way too late on this post you’re probably just finishing up preparing for 2017’s National Sales Meeting Kickoff. Typically getting a committee together with representatives from each department, organizing the agenda/content, bringing in vendors, having meeting run-through’s etc takes additional time…so I should have crafted this public service announcement September/October time-frame. However, for those of you who enjoy the “Crisis Challenge” and find it exhilarating to wait until the last minute to prepare for your big National Sales Meeting, then this post is perfect timing. Okay, let me first start by saying that I’m not one of those curmudgeons who promotes an all work and no play environment when it comes to preparing for an important kick off meeting, I just don’t support the “all play” meeting. Having participated in roles that allowed for cross functional leadership I consistently ran into obstacles where we had to prioritize between entertainment and application. “Application” to be clear involved examining commercial strategy and workshop/breakout simulations. There was always a challenge finding where things fit and where things had to be taken out…there was never enough time to do ANYTHING. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of motivational speakers that’s just my quirk, however, I get their utility in bringing energy to the meeting but I question is there anybody in the company that can provide that same energy? Where are the charismatic leaders in the company? To have a high priced hall of fame ex-football player or media figure is cool I will admit but how long will that awestruck last? Not very long as a matter of fact by the time you get back home from the exhaustive rock concert meeting you’ll have forgotten the name of the “Motivationalist”. I like the idea of having a keynote speaker someone who relates to your business and has had similar experiences with regards to failure and success. In a previous company we had such a speaker and the impact from their message resonated with the entire group because their content was relevant to our plight and it had more meaningful inspiration. I’ve always tried to sell the notion that National Sales Meetings need to be “INSPIRATIONAL” not motivational. Motivation lasts about the length of a coffee break whereas Inspiration lasts a lifetime. The content of your agenda for the National Sales Meeting should have an overall vision of inspiration that will carry the participants for the rest of the year, and if you have the right team in place that can come up with that content then you’ll have the best meeting ever…believe me.
The “Get Together”
Don’t get me wrong I enjoy national sales meetings because it’s usually held at the 1st of the year and everyone is excited for the upcoming sales year. It’s also a time to visit and catch up with colleagues you haven’t seen in person for a while and share pleasantries even with the phony ones….I been there (haha!!). It’s a time to re-group after the previous year, share best practices, re-evaluate strategies, and my personal favorite….application, application, and application. However, what I’ve found through experiencing literally about 100 National Sales Meetings is that most of them are nothing more than rock concerts or pep rallies as opposed to roll up the sleeves let’s prepare to put our beginning year 2016 Sales & Marketing Strategy plan to test. The problem is the balance between “the get together” and the application is out of balance. There is absolutely no argument from me that there should be time for team building, morale, and just plain fun but not at the expense of business acumen attainment and competency building. When I was in charge of leading the National Sales Meeting planning committee inevitably the feedback we consistently received was “The workshops/breakouts weren’t long enough”, “There was very little time for input”, “The workshops seemed hurried…but we had fun”. That to me was a FAIL. Again, I’m not a stick in the mud but when the lasting perception you receive from your internal customer on one of the most important meetings of the year is “but we had fun” that’s not the feedback you want that gives you confidence that your team is prepared for the year. The financial cost for putting on a National Sales Meeting is gigantic and many companies don’t place enough accountability on the R.O.I. for such a meeting and so you get the “get together” type meeting. Meetings like the National Sales Meeting are so critical because you don’t have more than one opportunity to get everyone together under one roof to focus on the year’s vision, and that’s why the balance between entertainment and application has to be evaluated microscopically in the planning process.
I’d like to see an overhaul of the entire National Sales Meeting planning process so that it doesn’t turn out as “The Ridiculous National Sales Meeting”. The absolute first thing I would do is have the planning team agree on the “Vision” of the meeting, which should align obviously with the 2016 corporate forecast objectives. What I find often times is that companies like to play off a “Theme” (e.g. “Teamwork 2016”, “Collaborate/Communicate 2016”, “Winning in 2016”), which I can’t tell if they’re meant to provide direction or my least favorite…motivate. Typically, these themes come from a deficit company leadership feels the employees are not responding too. If there’s an ambiguity problem then the theme is “Communicate Effectively 2016”…or some un-inspiring message….that’s not a “Vision”. By the end of July no one can remember the theme let alone what they’re supposed to do to execute on the theme. The vision can yes be inspiring but has to spell out specifically (no ambiguity) what each participant should gain and be able to pull-through from the meeting. The vision should be unwavering; a pact that everyone agrees upon at the National Sales Meeting, accountability is a must. How many of you require an action plan from each participant at the meeting outlining milestones to be reached from the “Vison”? To ensure EVERYONE is in lock step with what needs to take place the entire year you need to have a 2016 VISION, replace the “Theme” with a vision and your team will feel they’re a part of something bigger…than just a catchy phrase.
Build an inspired National Sales Meeting agenda….your team will reward you with inspired performance the entire 2016 year!
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