As a manager, you want your team to consistently demonstrate an understanding of what you expect from them. You want them to efficiently deliver the results you need on the budget you’re working with. Consistently efficient — that’s an ideal sales team.
But that need for consistency and efficiency isn’t specific to the team itself.
You, as a manager, should be consistently efficient in keeping everyone motivated and up to speed. But, that’s a lot easier said than done — especially if you’re only bringing your team together for conventional meetings.
Now, this article isn’t some sort of new age, “everything you know about sales doesn’t matter anymore” hit piece on conventional sales meetings. They’re far from obsolete, but booking a conference room for a couple of hours here and there to keep your team on track may not be the right move.
In this article, I’ll explain exactly what sales huddles are and give you some tips to ensure that you get the most out of implementing them.
What's the Sales Huddle?
A sales huddle is a condensed meeting a sales team holds on a frequent, ongoing basis. It's meant to give salespeople a picture of their team's current operations and future direction.
Sales huddles are relatively short but incredibly useful. They give managers the chance to relay important information and advice for sales teams on a consistent basis and provide a regular forum for healthy, constructive team conversations.
Sales huddles are one of the most effective ways to keep your sales team running cohesively and help you understand what you could be doing better. There’s no exact science to running great sales huddles, but here are some ideas you can implement to make them as engaging and effective as possible.
Sales Huddle Ideas
Get a feel for what your team wants to discuss.
Come prepared with sales meeting topics.
Create a specific agenda (and stick to it).
Listen to your sales reps.
Keep it efficient.
Acknowledge and praise achievements.
Make sure everyone speaks.
Maintain consistency with scheduling.
Encourage your team members to ask questions.
1. Get a feel for what your team wants to discuss.
Before your huddle, touch base with members of your team. Ask them what they would like to see addressed in the meeting. It can also help to ask them about certain strategies or practices they’ve heard about other companies implementing that they might like to discuss.
If you start to get a feel for topics that are going to resonate with your sales team, you should do your best to incorporate them into the huddle. That way, you can help keep your team engaged throughout its duration.
For instance, if you notice that members of your team are consistently bringing up different ways a competitor has been using LinkedIn as a sales tool, do your best to work that into the meeting’s agenda.
2. Come prepared with sales meeting topics.
On the off-chance that there isn't anything pressing that your team wants to discuss, being prepared with ice breakers or prompts helps get the discussion flowing. In order to energize your team, you should ensure that each sales huddle is unique in some way. Here are some ideas of things you can do during a sales huddle:
Play a sales game that stimulates their creativity.
Listen to a talk or webinar from a sales thought leader.
Dive into the metrics.
Get updates on everyone's pipelines.
3. Create a specific agenda (and stick to it).
A sales huddle isn’t your standard sales meeting. You’re not going to be sitting around a table for an hour with a plate full of pastries. It should be quick, engaging, and to the point. Do your best to keep your huddles to 30 minutes at most.
Have a definitive sales meeting agenda. Know what points you’d like to get across ahead of time and make sure you get to them. You only have so much time, so do what you can to avoid being long-winded. Understand what you want to say and how long it will take to present it.
4. Listen to your sales reps.
You should still leave some time for your team’s personal input. You should encourage productive conversations, but keep them on track. Make sure any discussions you and your team have in a sales huddle are relevant to the information you’ve presented or the projects and challenges your team members are handling.
Professional communication is crucial to the success of a sales team, so it’s important to do what you can to encourage that.
The point of all this is to let your team know they’re being heard. Show them they have a stake in how the team functions. Their thoughts could also start productive conversations about your business operations.
5. Keep it efficient.
As I mentioned, sales huddles are generally pretty short, so you probably won’t have time to work through everything your team has on its plate. Still, having your team members discuss their obstacles is a good way to start productive conversations among individual salespeople, the team itself, and management.
However, you shouldn’t start a full blown discussion about your business strategy or make significant plans during the sales huddle. Instead of launching into a full blown discussion of how your business operates, encourage your team to come to you with ideas or suggestions afterwards. From there, you can set more in-depth meetings on those kinds of issues.
If an obstacle a specific team member is facing is taking too much time to address, be upfront and let that team member know. That being said, you should also let them know you’re not undermining them and the challenges they’re facing. Encourage them to come discuss their points with you after the huddle is over.
Say something like, “For the sake of time, we have to move on right now, but I’d really like to work this issue out with you. Stop by my office or drop me an email after this meeting to see how we can figure this out.”
With language like that, you’re letting your employee know that you recognize their obstacle is real and that you’re willing to do what you can to help see them past it.
As an example, you could touch on your company's LinkedIn prospecting strategy in your huddle and ask your team to come to you with any thoughts they might have about how to reach more second-degree connections. If your team members offer some ideas that resonate with you, set a normal meeting to discuss them.
6. Acknowledge and praise achievements.
Take some time to recognize the high achievers on your team. If someone has scheduled a particularly high volume of demos, set a ton of meetings, or met their quota early, give them a shoutout.
Let your employees know that you value their contributions — and that doesn’t just mean singling out the salespeople that are going above and beyond.
You should always stress what your salespeople are doing well collectively. Identify how and where your team has been nailing it and emphasize what they should continue doing before getting into what they could be doing better.
For example, if an entire team has been consistently exceeding their quota from month to month, a sales manager could say something like, "Our Pacific Northwest Sales Team hit 115% of goal last month and is on track to hit 110% of goal this month. In today's team huddle, I've asked them to share what's made them so successful over the last two months."
7. Make sure everyone speaks.
Sales huddles are meant to encourage collaboration and team chemistry. Having your salespeople speak in front of their colleagues can do just that. It allows team members to feel comfortable voicing ideas in front of their coworkers and with management.
Have everyone on the team discuss what they’re currently working on and how it’s going. If a team member is facing some sort of obstacle, encourage them to speak up about it. Let them know they have the space and support necessary to work their issues out with both you and the other people they work with.
For example, If a rep is having trouble overcoming pricing objections from prospects in a certain region, let them speak openly about it in the huddle. Once the team is aware of that issue, you can encourage that rep to conduct a film review with the team and solicit feedback and advice.
8. Maintain consistency with scheduling.
Sales huddles shouldn’t be randomly peppered throughout the month. Keep them scheduled on a consistent basis. For a lot of managers, that means having a sales huddle every day. It may take a little trial and error to see what frequency works best for your business, but you should be able to find the right rhythm eventually. Just remember to schedule them frequently. Sales huddles can’t just happen every couple of weeks.
Also, be sure to schedule every huddle at the same time of day. The morning and the afternoon are both effective in their own right and have pros and cons. Huddles are designed to get everyone on your team motivated, up to speed, and in a similar state of mind. A morning huddle makes your team carry that mentality throughout the day, while an afternoon one can give your team new energy to push through until it’s time to go home.
Just like identifying the right frequency for your huddles, finding the right timing for them is going to take some trial and error. One factor to consider is the peak connection times for your team. It may go without saying, but you shouldn’t schedule your huddles during the times of day when your reps are making most of their calls or scheduling most of their demos.
When you finally land on the right time and frequency, stick to that schedule. That way, your team can plan their days around your huddles and always make it in on time.
9. Encourage your team members to ask questions.
Always leave time at the end of your huddle for questions. Sales huddles are designed to give your team clarity, so naturally, you may need to do some clarifying from time to time. You want your whole team to understand what you’re getting at and what you expect from them.
If you come away from a sales huddle without your whole team on the same page, then it didn’t really work. It’s better for one of your team members to ask for an explanation or more information than for them to go into a workday without a solid understanding of what the huddle was even for.
Do your best to not come off as imposing or inaccessible. Use language like, “Does anyone have any questions about what I just covered?” Or, “If you have a question you're not comfortable posing to the group, feel free to stop by my desk or drop me an email.”
Let your team know that it’s okay to not understand what you’re getting initially — so long as they’re willing to ask you for clarification right away instead of forgiveness after the fact. That way, you can get all the mileage you can out of your sales huddles and ensure that your team is working as a cohesive unit.
Consistently efficient. As a sales manager, that’s what you should aspire to be. You should do your best to get the most you can out of your sales team, all the time. That means getting your team on the same page with an understanding of what you expect from them. One of the best ways to do that is to regularly check in with your team, give them guidance, let them talk, and let them get back to work quickly.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Dec 16, 2020 1:15:00 PM, updated December 16 2020