Update and Energize Those Long, Monotonous Sales MeetingsAugust 1, 2017

August 1, 2017

Update and Energize Those Long, Monotonous Sales Meetings

Anonson,Jill-ITAGroup-110x140Jill Anonson has more than 20 years of experience in strategic events, incentive travel and sales strategy, and currently serves as the Events Solution Manager at ITA Group, headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa. In that role, Jill is responsible for market definition, competitive research, business plan development and more while creating strategies and solutions that help ITA Group thrive. The company, which creates and manages incentives, events and recognition programs that align and motivate people, has operations in every region of the United States and award solutions for more than 75 countries globally. Learn more at www.itagroup.com.

Envision the typical insurance and financial industry sales meeting: suits, ties, pie charts and PowerPoint presentations. While that’s how we have generally perceived sales meetings in the past, tomorrow’s sales meeting will be very different.

The sales meeting of the future won’t take place in a stale conference room, where attendees passively watch lengthy speeches and often monotonous presentations. And that’s a change for the better.

Interaction Powers the Sales Meeting

Financial and insurance industry sales professionals — especially millennials and Generation Z — relate best to quick, digestible forms of information. When it comes to training, educating and motivating, a long-winded speech from the CEO inevitably will lose the attention of audience members. An interactive experience with two-way dialogue will have much greater impact and ROI.

It is key to keep in mind that salespeople are inherently competitive. To capitalize on this quality, the sales meeting of the future will put emphasis on training through gamification. By turning training into a collaborative and competitive experience, attendees will hear your message loud and clear and will be more likely to remember it for years to come. That instills stronger motivation to work even harder and edge out the competition.

Keynotes and general sessions can be a great place to share actionable, real-life information and tactics with participants, but, to do so, you need to keep them on the edge of their seats.

To keep your audience riveted, consider changing the format to a newscast approach:

  • Put the agenda in a dynamic, side-screen ticker, similar to the scrolling bar at the bottom of news programs.
  • Give the content all the spark and vigor of a cable news broadcast. Offer rapid-fire commentary instead of drawn-out speeches wherever possible.
  • Emphasize dynamic video presentations, panel discussions, interviews and interactive Q&A sessions.
  • Have supporting content available for attendees to download at their leisure.
  • Energize the general session experience by featuring several smaller assemblies with more personalized content.

Technology to Allure and Automate

If bringing your event up to speed with the latest technologies feels overwhelming, focus on gradual yet impactful changes to make the most improvement. Consider honing in on one specific element of the event’s technology and refreshing it every year.

Livestreaming is fast becoming a way of including a broader audience for sales meetings while cutting costs. Offering keynote streams and virtual access to the session will engage onsite attendees who are located in different areas of the event complex. It also gives offsite salespeople the ability to test-drive the event, ultimately boosting attendance in future years.

Biometrics also will play a major role in future sales meeting technology and emotion-recognition technology will revolutionize event feedback. Soon, devices akin to fitness trackers will transmit information directly to event organizers, indicating levels of engagement. Until then, you can give presenters a gauge and attendees a voice with live polling and Q&A, using apps to leverage available technology.

Social media platforms are now an essential tool for sales networking and message amplification. That said, sales meetings often deal with confidential information. So how can event organizers weave social media into closed-door meetings?

First, create specific guidelines for what is and isn’t appropriate to share. Outline guidelines in as much detail as possible — and even go so far as to bar social media from certain sessions — to reduce the risk of sensitive information leaking out.

Also consider generating content that is ready-made for people to share. This will make it easy for participants in the meeting to share messages that leadership wants to instill.

Location, Location: Take Your Meeting Offsite

Offsite excursions and entertainment provide the team an opportunity to experience the culture and destination. And it’s even more impactful if you weave in the meeting’s mission with the offsite adventure.

The goal when planning offsite activities is to connect teams and objectives in a way that truly moves the needle. One way to fulfill this vision is to work with local organizations in need of volunteers. Community involvement and volunteering can redefine “teamwork” and make the event significantly more meaningful.

Never underestimate the importance of key stakeholder buy-in during these offsite activities. When your salespeople see your CEO sweating to build a playground, this action speaks louder than any words.

Drive Event Engagement Into the Future

At ITA Group, we believe in implementing our strategies in our own organization as well as our clients’ companies. A case in point: We wanted to revamp our annual fall conference into an interactive, immersive experience. With 34 percent salesforce growth in the past year and aggressive sales goals, we wanted to maximize motivation in our new team members, as well as keep long-time employees engaged and competitive.

Here are some of the strategies we deployed to “futurize” our meeting:

  • Brand immersion: We created an audio-visual environment that turned an ordinary hotel ballroom into a rock concert stage, complete with lighting, music and more.
  • Data tracking: The event’s app encouraged Q&A sessions, polling opportunities and quizzes, allowing participants to drive the discussion while giving speakers near-instant feedback. We also harvested real-time data by issuing branded RFID bracelets to participants.
  • Livestreaming: To reach employees who couldn’t make the trip, we offered a livestream of the meeting. Constant social media updates via Twitter, Facebook and Salesforce Chatter helped remote team members gain the same inspiration and motivation as those in attendance.

When we analyzed the results of our new approach to the annual sales meeting, we found 260 percent more session engagement than the previous event — with 100 percent of sales team members reporting that they left the conference feeling enthusiastic.

Using these strategies to update and energize sales meetings not only will engage attendees, it will demonstrate willingness to push the envelope. And that will impress your clients and participants in a memorable way. By bringing your sales meeting planning into the future now, it will motivate and ultimately spur profits for years to come. I&FMM


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