Question: I need some help in supercharging my boring sales meetings. Can you lend some wisdom to make the weekly meeting “kick?”

Answer: Believe it or not, most sales managers don’t want to hold boring, unproductive sales meetings. Yet, they still happen (and pretty frequently, too). Here are some ways to create sales meeting agendas that actually work.

First of all, don’t have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. There should always be a specific purpose for the meeting and its outcome should be described in terms of how you want the salespeople to perform.

For example, in creating the sales meeting agenda, a lot of sales managers will say something like, “I’m going to present our new product.” You envision yourself talking for an hour or so about your new product and then answering questions for a few moments.

The problem with that is the focus is on you, not the salespeople. Think about what change you want to see in the salespeople. Why are you going to present the new product? Because you want the salespeople to be familiar with it. And why do you want that? Because you want them to sell it.

If salespeople are going to be able to sell a new product, what specifically do they need to know how to do? They need to know what applications the product fits, the features and benefits it brings to the customer, how to present it as a solution, how it fits with our other products, and how this product compares to the competition.

Now you are talking in terms of specific sales behaviors, but how will you know if they understood it? At the end of the meeting you should be able to measure the results and determine whether you achieved your objective.

Let’s break down the objectives and develop specific ways to measure them:

1. Salespeople need to know what applications the product fits. We’re talking about knowledge here, and knowledge can be tested. Have salespeople take a test at the end of the sales meeting to measure their knowledge of applications.

2. The features and benefits it brings to the customer, how to present it as a solution. Presenting it implies a role-playing event. Have everyone role play a presentation in which they must describe a number of features and benefits for a specific customer.

3. How it fits with our other products, and how this product compares to the competition. This again is knowledge. Knowledge is measurable. Throw this into the exam.

At this point, you have decided to end the day with an exam that measures certain aspects of the knowledge you want them to gain, and a role-play in which you grade their ability to make a features and benefits presentation.

There is still something missing. Add a little sizzle to the day by creating a small contest. For example, everyone who sells six or more of this new product in the next 60 days will earn a gift certificate for dinner for two at an expensive restaurant. Keep track of everyone’s progress on a chart in the lunch room, and e-mail everyone’s progress to all the sales, management and customer service people in the company at the end of every week.

OK, let’s assemble the ideas we have. Your sales meeting agenda is beginning to take form:

1. Start the meeting with an explanation of the sales contest.

2. Announce that at the end of the meeting, everyone will be tested for their knowledge of the new product and will do a role-play presentation that you will grade. You expect grades on both to be 85 percent or higher.

3. Present your new product.

4. Give everyone a quiz. Break the group up into pairs, and have each person coach the other on the questions they did not answer correctly.

5. Do a couple practice role-plays.

6. Give the final exam.

7. Do the final role-play.

If you do this, I’ll guarantee you will feel better about the value of your sales meetings, and your salespeople will not be bored.

I realize that some of you have concerns:

1. What! I have never really expected any specific outcome from the salespeople. I’m not sure I can do this.

Don’t you pay them as professionals? Then start treating them as professionals. Perhaps part of the problem has been your lack of specific expectations for them. Time to change that.
2. What if they don’t pass the test or the role-play?

Then you’ll know what the problem is. If they can’t do this with you, how do you expect them to perform in front of the customer? Remember, you said the purpose was to get them to sell the new product.

3. My salespeople have never done this kind of thing in a sales meeting before.

I thought you asked the question of how you can make your sales meetings less boring and more valuable. If you keep doing what you always did, you’ll get what you always got. Something has to change. If you don’t change it, who will? If your salespeople aren’t up to meeting some specific expectations regarding their knowledge and sales skills, perhaps you don’t have real salespeople.

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. His Sales Resource Center houses 455 training programs to help bump every sales person up a level. All delivered over the internet, 24/7, for one low monthly fee.