I have always been surprised on how little emphasis is placed on the preparation and expected outputs of sales meetings. In an organisation I was once part of we carried out research into the actual cost of a sales meeting – based on a target of five calls per day, the actual cost of each meeting was £78.07, nearly £400 per day for each sales person.
The cost of £78.07 for each sales meeting was a great motivator in ensuring that every sales meeting was appropriately prepared for in terms of meeting a key decision maker, having a structured agenda and having a business opportunity that would add value to the business owner / manager.
I have been in organisations where the finance director, and rightly so, has changed a catering supplier to save £9 on a lunch for 12 people, however, the business has not even followed up on the effectiveness and outputs of the sales meetings of the previous month which, going by my earlier figure, could have cost the very same finance director £8,457 for one sales person alone.
Just so you know, I do not think a well prepared and structured sales person is a cost to a company. I believe they are crucial in generating an excellent return for the company if managed and coached correctly. However, it is apparent in some organisations that sales people do not always go into a meeting well prepared, sometimes through no fault of their own. This can have a damaging impact on your company on a number of levels but mainly, (1) your customer becomes disengaged with your company as they are not receiving a return on the time they are investing into the meeting; (2) as the brand ambassador of your company, the sales person’s lack of structure, direction and substance in the meeting does not reflect well on your company; and (3) the sales person becomes disengaged with your company if they feel that they have to go through the motions without having any new business opportunities to present.
Research carried out by Bain & Company and published in the Harvard Business Review (March 17) not surprisingly reported that top performers were better prepared than their colleagues for meetings with their customers. What would be the cost to your company if you did not ensure your sales team were adequately prepared for each meeting?
The above comments are very simplistic and there are many points that can be debated around your companies costs etc, however, to keep the simplistic theme going, are you giving your sales team the tools and resources needed to add value in every sales meeting? Is your sales team using the tools and resources you are giving them effectively to produce a satisfactory return for your company?