Sales meetings, despite their sometimes less-than-flattering reputations, are necessary to effectively running a sales organization. Are we sometimes guilty of holding too many meetings? Yes, we are. Are we equally guilty of the occasional meeting with no disciplined agenda? Yes, sometimes they are a complete and total waste of your time.

But they don’t have to be a waste of time.

You can bring your best and most effective self to the meeting and gain something and contribute something—if you go into it with the right mindset.

First, Empty Your Cup

You’ve been to weekly sales meetings. You are a veteran. You’ve seen it all, and you’ve heard it all before. You know everything you need to know, right?

There is an old story Bruce Lee used to tell about a university professor who is studying the idea of enlightenment. He climbs to the top of a high mountain to reach the Zen master to ask him about enlightenment. The Zen master offers to pour them both a cup of tea. As he is pouring the tea for his guest, the Zen master keeps right on pouring until the cup is overflowing. When the professor brings the overflowing cup to the Zen master’s attention, the Zen master explains that no more tea will fit in the cup until it is first emptied.

Empty your cup. What could you learn if you really wanted to learn something useful?

What Questions Would Make This Useful?

Sometimes an issue comes up in meetings over and over again. The material needs reviewed, and it needs to be better implemented to get results. Instead of sitting passively, half-listening and half somewhere else, think instead about the questions that need to be answered to bring life to the issue.

It’s your sales meeting; make it your sales meeting.

Ask yourself: “What is interesting about this?” And, ask yourself: “Why is this topic important, and what should I really learn about it?”

What questions need to be addressed in order for you to benefit from discussing whatever is on your sales meeting agenda? Ask the questions that will help further your understanding or skills.

If you would pursue excellence, then you must be passionately engaged.

What Can You Add to Benefit Others?

Your engagement benefits you tremendously. It increases your learning. Even when you are discussing something other than customers, you can gain something from your active participation.

Engagement is a sign of professionalism.

Some of your peers won’t be engaged in the meeting or the topic, unless it is, say, compensation or something about which they can commiserate and complain.

Your engagement, your questions, your comments, your thoughts, and your experiences will also benefit others. It demonstrates your professionalism, and it demonstrates your leadership.

What New Insight or Action Now?

You will attend unmercifully long meetings that meander and leave you lost and foggy-headed. But your commitment to excellence requires that you find a way to gain something to make the meeting worth your time and effort.

You need to find one insight or one action that you can take away from the meeting that will benefit you in the future.

If nothing else, you will learn lessons on how—and how not to—run meetings. You will learn lessons on leadership and managing others. You will learn lessons on organizational development and the dangers of groupthink. You will observe all of the common ailments that plague salespeople, including poor beliefs, negativity, and cynicism.

You will surely observe and learn how difficult change is inside your own organization, and if you are thoughtful, you can extrapolate that learning to the same resistance in your client companies.

There may not be a damned thing you can do about the fact the meeting was poorly planned and poorly run. But you have complete and direct control as to what you take away from the meeting. Lessons are everywhere, all the time, for those who are willing to observe and learn from them.


Why are meetings an important part of running a sales organization?

What is your responsibility to the meeting as a participant?

What is your responsibility to yourself as a participant?

What can you learn about leadership from sales meetings?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 12, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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