TALKING SALES 101: “Research shows sales meetings suck”

image“Three in four sales managers believe that their sales meetings do not drive better conversations with clients” – an interview by John Smibert.


John DouganJohn Dougan has recently completed research into the effectiveness of sales team meetings.  His research showed that a high percentage of sales team meetings achieve poor outcomes. So I asked him to talk about the knock on effects of poorly run meetings.

He made a very interesting point. He said that there is a direct correlation between the effectiveness of sales meetings with the effectiveness of customer meetings.

Poor sales meeting lead to less effective customer conversations. Good sales meetings lead to good customer meetings resulting in a positive impact on sales.

John emphasises the message for sales managers; “Salespeople need to benefit from your sales meeting”. It’s not your meeting but theirs. If they see the meeting as your meeting they will be demotivated and their behaviour in the field is likely to reflect your behaviour in the meeting.

John provides some great advice to help achieve an effective meeting. See the full interview below for more.

John Dougan is the Intrepid Sales Detective, a noted writer and blogger on sales effectiveness.

See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


John S: Hello, I’ve got John Dougan with me again – welcome back, John!

John D: Thanks, John!

John S: Hey, last time we had a good discussion about sales meetings and how to motivate people in sales meetings. I’d be really interested to know, through all the research you’ve done, what’s the worst thing that can happen that can result from not running good sales meetings?

John D: Well John, the scary stat here is that one in four sales managers believe that their sales meeting drives better conversations with clients.

John S: Only one in four?

John D: Only one in four.

John S: So why are they running it?

John D: Well, you tell me! If it doesn’t drive results, as we said, don’t bother running the sales meeting. But the truth is, the knock-on effect that sales meetings create is absolutely imperative to how your salespeople run meetings with clients.

John S: You are saying that we should run sales meetings, you’re not saying don’t run them.

John D: Absolutely.

John S: But you are saying don’t run them if you’re running them like a lot of us currently run them.

John D: [laughs] John, I’m saying run sales meetings that actually promote better conversations, better results-driven conversations with your clients. And as I mentioned, the knock-on effect… For example, if you’re starting a sales meeting late, what sort of impression do you think that gives your sellers on how acceptable it is to turn up to a client meeting late? Alternatively, if you’re underprepared for your sales meeting, imagine the knock-on effect that has for how prepared your salespeople are going into client meetings.

John S: And vice versa. If you’re on time, you’re prepared, it’s a real go-ahead meeting and everybody comes out of there thinking it’s great, imagine the positive effect it’s having!

John D: John, and that’s where you have to focus your attention. How can the motivation that I bring to my salespeople drive activity, meetings included as part of that activity, that results in success? We talk about not only motivating people, we also talk about detracting or stealing that motivation, we spoke about it earlier on. The truth is, salespeople need to benefit from your sales meeting. For example, we talked again about being underprepared, right? How many sales managers have ever stood up and said, “All of my salespeople are prepared.” The truth is, it’s one of the biggest bugbears or frustrations of sales managers. Well, chances are you’re driving that behaviour by running a rubbish sales meeting.

John S: I really love the message. We put two discussions together on video now about sales meetings, and sometimes we don’t really think about them enough. I’ve seen some great sales leaders, sales managers run some brilliant sales meetings and everybody goes out energised, weekly or whatever the occurrence of the meeting is, and it’s amazing a good sales manager can drive outstanding results for his team through sales meetings.

John D: Yes, absolutely, John. It is the focus time for you as a sales manager to influence the troops, to get them to go out there and achieve what they need to achieve on a weekly basis. If you focus purely on activity, purely on numbers, you are failing your salespeople and you’re letting them down.

John S: This is really leading to the whole subject of what is a sales manager’s role, and I’d like you to come back and let’s have a discussion on that. Right now though, the message for sales managers is to nail your sales meeting, don’t use it as an administrative meeting. It’s all about motivation, it’s all about creating value for your salespeople.

John D: Absolutely. If you’re a sales manager, think about how you approach your sales meeting, because that is having a direct result on how your salespeople prepare and face their client meetings.

John S: John, thank you very much for the message!


If you like John Dougan  you can see more of his interviews here:

  1. Adapting Sales Process to Buyer Behaviour
  2. Choosing the right sales methodology
  3. The social selling evolution
  4. The sales profession
  5. Why is your sales meeting de-motivating?


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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