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Have Trouble Finding Topics For Your Morning Meetings? |  August 19, 2015 (0 comments)


Boston, MA—If we could somehow transport ourselves (Portkey, for the Harry Potter fans among you!) to a specific place where we could meet – you and I, that is – I would invite you to have a meeting with me at your earliest convenience. The meeting topic would be Meeting Topics.

If that topic seems a little vague, I offer my sincere apology and strongly encourage you to schedule another meeting so that I can clarify what I mean about calling a meeting to discuss meeting topics. Are you still with me?

I am, of course, making an assumption that you are inclined to have meetings at all. It is not an uncommon occurrence to meet a retailer or two who does not, as a rule, conduct store meetings. Other stores do them a little and still others have them every single morning.

I worked for one company that had a meeting every single day, come rain or high-water. If there were no relevant topics to discuss, we’d settle for irrelevant ones.  On some occasions we would be pleasantly surprised at the dynamic, even when the meeting topics seemed a mite forced. On other occasions, even the most robust of topics managed to die a slow death, as the team failed to take the hook and the voices began to sound a little Snoopy-like.

I worked for another company that had meetings less often. The meetings tended to promise a lot and often took on the appearance of worthwhile and productive engagement. They were, however, a complete ruse.  A week or two later, I would often find myself having the same conversation, surrounded by the same faces, as if the first meeting had never happened at all. If it wasn’t exactly Sisyphus territory, it was, at the very least, Groundhog Day. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and...

My own feeling about the idea of having meetings is that there ought to be more meetings, not fewer (never under-estimate the power of communication with your team) but that the meetings ought to have a purpose, a process and a resolution.

“So,” you may ask, “Where do I get topics for my morning meetings?”

Funny you should ask. I was just having that very conversation with a retailer in Florida this week. Every single day, without question, there are multiple interactions on the sales floor between your salespeople and your customers. Some of those interactions result in sales, some do not, and some of the later (maybe even some of the former...have you ever made a sale and still felt like you needed a shower after the experience?) amount to an exercise in utter frustration.  Virtually every interaction with a customer presents an opportunity for a learning experience.

As I watched my jewelry-friend, Blake, give a master-class in salesmanship, I found myself wishing that he could share his success with his and other salespeople as a great example of how the sales-process ought to work. He could have told them how he so effortlessly engaged the sixty-something couple when they entered his store. He could have mentioned how he had seamlessly and professionally elicited the necessary discovery to understand what the customers’ needs were. He could have mentioned how he momentarily excused himself to grab a bottle of cold-water (it was about 95 degrees outside) for the UPS guy. He could have shared the manner in which he overcame the customers’ objections, how he appropriately and proudly presented his product options to the couple and, to the tune of $14,000, how he closed the sale.

Oh, lest I forget, he could have reminded his team how, after the sale had been consummated (no quid-pro quo here), he called the departing couple back so that he could present the lady with a beautiful bath robe, that he delightedly credited his mother as having  ordered. “They’re made by the same people that make the robes at the Ritz Carlton,” he said.  “Please enjoy that.”

Those customers almost floated out of that store after that experience and the entire episode felt like a massive, win/win/win. The store had realized an important sale. The couple had enjoyed a fantastic experience and had a beautiful ring and robe to remind them. And yours’ truly got to watch the whole thing and marvel in the pure joy of how what we do for a living looks like when it is done right.

Before you rush to state the obvious, that this experience was so wonderful that depending on repeat performances of this type for meeting topics would prove immensely challenging, allow me to offer the following: In the first instance, this was not an unusual occurrence in this store and with that owner/salesperson. He wakes up every single day believing that particular day will be a great day...and he is frequently proven more right than wrong. He carries a beautifully positive attitude into his work every day that has him expect to enjoy success.

Secondly, while the aforementioned experience would certainly make for a super meeting topic the day after, there would have been other situations that day, and other days, and with different salespeople, that would result in a far less celebratory outcomes, but which still provide a rich vein of discussion points for a morning meeting. What happened? How did the discovery process unfold? Were there objections that were not readily overcome?

A simple way to create meeting topics is to elect a salesperson each day to select one of his or her customer interactions from that day for the morning meeting. They should jot down a few points from the particular engagement and be prepared to discuss what went right, what went wrong and any other points of interest so that the team can weigh in with their questions and feedback as to how things might have otherwise proceeded.

The desired outcome, naturally, is not that the elected salesperson might better understand how a given interaction might have developed (in and of itself a good thing), but that all of the salespeople learn to dissect the most basic aspects of a sale and how to better prepare and execute to a more successful outcome more often.

Richard Branson was quoted as saying that “The day you stop learning, is the day you stop living.”

Now, if I can just get one of those robes for me.

Peter Smith, the author of Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions To Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, has spent more than 30 years building sales-teams at retail and at wholesale. A graduate of Boston College and the Harvard Key- Executive Program, Peter has served on the Advisory Board of Caliper’s Global Conference. He is also a regular columnist for National Jeweler and the Centurion Sales Newsletter, where he writes about sales, personnel and management issues pertaining to Independent Retail Jewelers. Smith has previously worked with companies such as Tiffany & Co., Montblanc and Hearts On Fire and he was recently appointed as president of Vibhor Gems.

Smith’s Hiring Squirrels is available in print or Kindle digital edition on 

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