6 tips for turning sales team meetings from snooze to success

Team meetings are one of the top areas insurance producers feel least engaged on the job. Here’s how to spice them up.

Insurance News


Start-of-the-week team meetings are an area where independent insurance agencies should shine, revving up the sales team with infectious energy and offering helpful tips and strategies to improve the bottom line. More often than not, however, team meetings are perceived as a necessary evil, in which managers speak rather than listen, and waste company time.

“When done right, what [sales team meetings] do is increase skill and motivation,” said Kevin Higgins, a sales management veteran of 20 years. “I think when they’re not done right, they just take up time—and it’s a large amount of time when you look at it.”

Higgins, who has worked with clients like Disney, Expedia and Pfizer to improve sales meetings, spoke to Insurance Business about six ways to turn insurance sales team meetings from a snooze-fest to a hotbed of success.

1. Start with an energizer
“Oftentimes, sales meetings are at the beginning of the week when salespeople come in saying, ‘Gotta go, gotta run, gotta do.’ If I go into a meeting with a boring start, however, it brings me down,” Higgins said. “The opposite is also true. If I go to a fun, motivational meeting where I learn, I come in fired up and leave really fired up because energy has been added to me.”

Enter “the energizer”—the quick activity designed to get staff in the mood for success. Higgins recommends something as simple as playing music or watching a funny YouTube video.

Exercises like clapping and cheering are particularly good for insurance companies, Higgins said, where sales staff make up only part of the agency.

“Then everybody’s looking in and going, ‘Man, I wish I was in that meeting,’” he said.

Quality energizers also serve as motivation for people to come on time to work, as they won’t want to miss out on the next fun meeting starter.

2. K.I.S.S.—Keep it simply simple
One of the reasons salespeople tend to dread team meetings is because they run over time with th barrage of ideas and information involved.

Instead, Higgins recommends boiling the agenda down to a few clear, simple points.

“We tend to overcomplicate,” he said. “We try to put 10 pounds of stuff in a two-pound bag. Keep it simple and don’t try to boil the ocean.

3. Individual updates
Passing the mike around the room to give updates on how each team member is progressing is important, but time-consuming. An easy way to reign in the office chatterbox is to ask a very specific question and establish a time limit for each team member.

“Way too often we use really broad questions like ‘talk about your week last week,’” Higgins said. “Well, that gives me license to talk for five minutes and before you know it, we’re all off on a tangent. What we say is to have one theme, set a time limit, and cut people off if they’re going offtrack.”

Examples of good prompts to give team members at a sales meeting include talking about a recent sales situation they are proud of and why; and objection they experienced; a sales meeting they are excited about how they’re going to nail it; and an internal challenge they’ve experienced lately and tips for their teammates to overcome it.

Using specific prompts like these and enforcing strict time limits helps managers and agency owners keep meetings with the optimal timeframe of 30 to 60 minutes, Higgins said.

4. Motivate and reward
At the end of the meeting, Higgins recommends doing something for team members to say thank you and acknowledge good effort during the week.

“It doesn’t have to be fancy or any big thing,” he said. “It’s just ‘Hey, thank you for this’ or ‘Way to go here.’ If you want to throw in a Starbucks card or something like that, that always adds.”

5. Capability activity
Perhaps the most important tip of the six, a capability activity should kick off the meeting immediately after the energizer.

Capability activities involve engaging the whole team in an exercise designed to hone skills or teach important sales tips, such as practicing how to handle common objections or leaving the perfect voicemail or elevator pitch.

“If you want a great meeting, this is the number one thing you need to do,” Higgins said. “If you have a strictly informative meeting, I might take something out of it, but if you actually make us do something or practicing something or prepare for something, that’s where I’m really going to get some value.”

6. The standard agenda
Each meeting should have a standard agenda so team members understand the basic outline and time frame.

In a 30- to 60-minute weekly meeting, Higgins recommends starting with the energizer, progressing to the capability activity, and taking time for a business update before progressing onto individual updates and any other business.

Then, he said, it’s time to end the weekly meeting with rewards and recognition, leaving your sales team eager to come back for more.

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