There typically is a robust agenda that covers numerous topics. Those could be a review of the YTD numbers. Maybe they are around poor performing areas or planning for the next fiscal year.
These off-sites are usually in a hotel or conference room and not in the office. For two days you sit in a room reviewing everything. The string of PowerPoint presentations are endless. Agendas are jam-packed with issues. You hate these off-sites. They don’t accomplish a lot. Many of the agreed-upon ideas don’t get implemented. And now you have to plan another one.
What should you do?
- Answer the question: ‘Why an off-site?’
- Construct an agenda (Remember: Less is more)
- Determine who should attend the meeting
- Pick a location that allows for productivity and the opportunity to have fun
- Build in some team building exercises
- Actually get something done that your team will use.
The most critical item is developing an agenda. When properly set, your team will discuss and actually solve your biggest problems.
Especially the ones that keep reoccurring that have not been solved before.
There are 5 critical topics that need to be discussed at every off-site meeting:
- Talent Selection and Development: Achieving sales effectiveness requires top talent. Selecting and developing this talent is critical to long-term consistent revenue. Putting this first on the agenda sends a message. Neglecting our responsibility to hire the best people will result in failure. Refusal to develop them results in losing them. Let’s face it. You can’t control the customer. Sometimes you can’t control the market. But you have direct control on who you hire and develop. Focus your team properly on talent.
- Getting more Qualified Leads: Every salesperson wants more leads. The problem is most are unqualified. They just aren’t ready to engage with a salesperson. Every off-site meeting needs to discuss how to get better leads. Get marketing in the room. Review the definition of a lead and then a qualified lead. Question if the salespeople are properly qualifying these leads. Nothing is worse than wasting precious selling time on a deal that can’t buy.
- Win-Loss Assessment on Big Deals: Analyze and report the findings of wins or losses since the last meeting. Understand with your team why we win or lose. This will help you make real changes in your sales organization.
- Quality coaching: Nothing increases sales with your current team better than coaching. Check your team for the quantity and quality of it. Understand what time sinks take them away from coaching sales reps. Figure out what is preventing you from coaching them as well. Get commitment to change by having sales operations in the room. Ask these important questions:
- What can sales ops due to increase coaching time?
- What are they doing to reduce it?
- Should we perform a RACI exercise?
This tactical approach will make a difference.
- Sales Compensation: This isn’t a conversation about changing the comp plan. It’s about how we can maximize it for our reps. Salespeople don’t always understand their comp plans. Reviewing how your best reps do this allows for your sales managers to coach. The result is happier reps.
Off-sites don’t have to be a waste of time. Complete these steps to ensure they are valuable:
- Have Pre-Work for each participant (your sales managers and other attendees). Pre-work means your attendees actually have to think about the meeting beforehand. They can’t just show up. Include the agenda in this pre-work so everyone knows what to expect.
- Get your boss to ‘stop-by’. Maybe he is there for a ½ day. But his presence means there is some serious work to be completed. Make sure he doesn’t stay for the whole time though. You need some unfiltered and honest thinking in off-sites. This means the ability to throw out ideas without retribution.
- Everyone gets assigned a task to complete with follow-ups and timelines. Buy-in requires action. Action to use the decisions that were made. Just agreeing to something and not using it is pointless. They will forget about it by the time they hit the door.
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