Snooze Free Sales Meetings Do your sales associates need a boost? Consider beefing up your sales meetings.
When Lucy Quiñones holds a sales meeting in her Cape Coral office, she creates a high-energy atmosphere with upbeat music, motivational speakers and rousing affirmations. Lorraine Meighan, in Jacksonville, takes a lower-key approach to delivering the latest market information and building team camaraderie. Scott Agran, in Boca Raton, focuses on building sales skills, recognizing that even veterans need a refresher from time to time.
Clearly, Florida brokers and managers bring different styles and approaches to their weekly, biweekly or monthly sales meetings. Whether hosting a morning market update, a low-key luncheon or an afternoon pep rally, they understand that effective sales meetings don’t happen by accident.
As Joy Woodruff, team leader, coach and broker for Keller Williams Town and Country Realty in Tallahassee, says, “My role is to create a meeting our agents want to attend. The idea is to keep things interesting and intriguing so they walk out feeling educated, inspired and motivated.”
Here are some tips on giving your sales meetings panache. A Consistent Format
Since the goal of a sales meeting is to help associates sell more effectively, most brokers follow a consistent format that typically includes these four elements:
• An informational update.
This might include weekly market statistics, the latest news on property taxes or information about features new to the company’s Web site. To keep their meeting moving along, managers tend to hit the high points and provide printed handouts or electronic files for closer study after the meeting.
• Team building.
Here’s where associates can ask for advice from their peers, talk about their successes and share war stories. By acting as facilitators, managers can build team spirit in the office.
Inspiring and motivating associates to do their best—on the job and in life—is one of the manager’s key roles. Fortunately, there are countless motivational articles, books and tapes available, not to mention
associates’ real-life stories, to draw upon for material.
• Skill building.
Training helps sales professionals at all levels achieve their goals. Therefore, managers may offer one or two suggestions during a sales meeting or bring in a trainer for a brief refresher program.
Of course, brokers mix and match these components in each meeting, perhaps bringing in a guest speaker, moving the session to a new location or creating a longer special event.
Tony Garcia, district sales manager for The Keyes Co./Realtors, Homestead and Florida Keys branches, says he makes sure to include time for questions and answers in his weekly meetings. “That can spark a good discussion among the associates, giving them something more to think about.” Motivating Sales Associates
Once a month, Quiñones, broker manager for Century 21 Birchwood International Inc. in Cape Coral, holds a 90-minute motivational session for her 62 associates. “We use high-energy music and jump up and down, helping us to detox from all the stress,” she says. “It clears our minds, and then we’re ready to learn.”
Using PowerPoint presentations, Quiñones talks about strategies for personal growth and leadership, focusing on associates as both human beings and businesspeople. She provides attendees with workbooks for their personal thoughts on topics like vision, passion, faith, commitment and perseverance. And the meetings close with a personal affirmation that’s become a companywide motto: “I am a professional. I am a winner. My company supports me. Together we will succeed.”
Does this approach work? “The results have been incredible,” Quiñones says. “Associates’ mindsets have changed. They understand the company’s vision, and their loyalty has grown immensely. It helps everyone feel the pulse of our company.”
Woodruff is another believer in the power of the motivational meeting. Every month, she packs about 50 sales associates into a sales meeting that mixes the latest market information with inspirational presentations. And three or four times a year, she holds a special theme meeting and cranks up the music.
“In the background, we show slides of the agents’ activities,” Woodruff says. “There’s always something to eat and drink. Then our leadership team walks in, bringing their smiles and energy. This is a time when we celebrate accomplishments—activities that show a person’s character or mark milestones in their career.”
At one recent session with a Margaritaville theme, everyone dressed in colorful Key West attire, with prizes for the best dressed. And at a December team meeting, Santa paid a special visit.
To close her sales meetings, Woodruff passes out a bucket of plush and plastic frogs, asks each sales associate to take one and reads a motivational story of two frogs stuck at the bottom of a pit. One frog gave up, while the other succeeded because he felt his friends at the top of the pit were cheering him on. “Our associates will stand up and hand a frog to each other, recognizing someone who’s helped them along the way,” Woodruff says. “It’s a very emotional time, and a wonderful way to let people know how much they’re appreciated.” Informing and Connecting
As broker-manager for Watson Realty Corp.’s Ponte Vedra office, Meighan takes a more informational approach to her sales meetings. “Our sales meetings provide an opportunity to brainstorm on issues, share information on listings and come together as a group,” she says. “Our associates like having meetings that are informative and time limited. Every office has its own personality. Mine is very businesslike, and that seems to work really well for us.”
About 50 associates attend the Tuesday morning meetings, which never last more than an hour. Meighan prepares a written agenda and e-mails it to the associates the night before. After the session, she and the associates tour their new listings in the local area.
During the session, Meighan covers sales trends in detail, based on weekly Multiple Listing Service statistics, as well as financing and technology updates. After the meeting, associates get hard-copy reference printouts of programs and data for their files. Once a month, top performers are recognized and customer praises are read aloud.
Occasionally, Meighan brings in outside motivational speakers. “They [the speakers] are amazed at how many of our associates show up,” she says. “We always have a full room, because our meetings bring value to the associates. And it’s like a reunion—everyone is working from their homes and cars, and they really like seeing each other in person.”
In planning sales meetings at his Homestead office, Garcia gathers information and ideas all week and sends out an agenda the night before his Tuesday morning meetings for 25 to 30 associates. “We talk about the latest numbers, new listings and strategies for success,” he says. “We keep our meetings very positive.”
Among the tools Garcia uses is a thank you board, where associates express their appreciation to other sales associates. He also focuses on having fun while you work, using ideas from the motivational “FISH” video adapted from Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market.
Guest speakers are limited to those who can provide information of value to customers, for example, an insurance agent providing tips on reducing homeowner premiums. “My goal is to be sure that everyone takes something from our meetings—even the top producers,” Garcia says.
Elliot Marcus, managing broker, Crye-Leike Coastal Realty, Destin, takes advantage of his 15-agent firm’s coastal location to hold sales meetings at nearby resort properties or subdivision sales offices.
“When someone wants to sponsor a meeting, it provides an opportunity to get out of the office,” he says.
Like other managers, Marcus emphasizes the importance of collecting articles on trends and of training, in order to deliver the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time. “You have to get your message delivered as quickly as possible,” he says.
As co-owner of Lang Realty, a four-office firm with 225 associates, based in Boca Raton, Agran holds biweekly sales meetings that cover market conditions, changes in real estate laws and include guest speakers like the Palm Beach County tax assessor.
“We try to make our meetings very informative,” says Agran. “The most important thing is they create camaraderie and build communication. People making money tend to be out of the office so this is an opportunity for everyone to share their stories and hear what’s going on out there.”
In recent months, Agran has placed a high priority on improving sales associates’ skills. He recently brought in professional trainer Dale Doyle to “re-arm” associates with marketing, networking, sales and negotiation skills.
“Our agents were really excited by these meetings,” says Agran. “Instead of feeling lost in a changing market, they’re able to learn and try different things and start changing themselves,” he says. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from associates who are proud to be with a company helping them to get better in these challenging times.”
Summing up her philosophy of sales meetings, Woodruff says managers must provide the right balance of information and fun. “Be sure you know your associates and what things in the market are affecting them,” she says. “After all, the meeting is about their needs—not yours. Use your skills to prepare a sales meeting that you’d want to attend if you were an agent.” Richard Westlund is a Miami-based freelance writer.