7 Ways to Lead Sales Team Conference Calls from Boring to Brilliant (or at least get close)
If you’re leading a field sales team today, conference calls are as inevitable as traffic jams and spilled travel mugs of coffee. They also tend to be about as enjoyable. If you haven’t seen this depicted beautifully in the Tripp & Tyler video “A Conference in Real Life,” please take a minute and enjoy it before jumping into the rest of this post. You’re welcome. 🙂
While I can assure that conference calls will never be mistaken for days at the beach, I feel strongly that there are things we can do as leaders to make them more productive, engaging and even…gasp…enjoyable. Here are 7 tips that can help you take your next conference call from boring to brilliant (or at least get close):
- Skip it if you can: Let’s be honest, there isn’t a worse conference call than an unnecessary conference call. This goes for any meeting, for that matter. Before you send out that next meeting invite be sure that the purpose of pulling everyone together on the phone is really worth the time it takes away from other things (time with customers, time with family, etc.) Don’t simply run a call because you always do on Monday mornings. If you can get away without running a conference call – then do it. Your team will thank you!
- Know your content: If your purpose passes the test, make sure the actual content for the call does too. Just like certain wine pairs beautifully with certain food – some content jives well with conference calls while some does not. Covering the mechanics of your new commission plan with time for Q&A? A conference call just might do the trick. Want to have a discussion about a new sales strategy or get some practice with a new marketing piece? Maybe not so much. Choose wisely.
- Send an audio agenda: At a minimum, have an agenda for the call that can be sent out in advance via e-mail. This gives everyone attending a chance to prepare themselves to participate. But now, give some thought to an “audio agenda.” Use your smart phone and record a quick 1-2 minute overview of your call’s purpose to send it out to your team as a text message. Why? Documents and flat text get lost in the e-mail shuffle and are really 1-dimensional. They’re boring. An audio clip allows your attendees to hear your voice, gauge your emotional connection to the meeting and its different enough to catch their attention. Give it a try!
- Set a tone for participation early: Silence on a conference call can be deadly…crickets anyone? One way to set a conversational tone early is to do a roll call survey. When doing the obligatory check for who is in attendance at the beginning of the call – ask them to share something fun or interesting along with their verbal “here.” In addition to having some laughs and getting everyone participating you’ll be building a cool list of interesting insights about your team that you can circle back to later! Click the link below for a FREE list of 50 Survey Questions, some of which my team has used over the last couple of years to kick off conference calls. Have fun.
- Get others formally involved: I know, everyone LOVES to hear you talk but it’s important to change things up regularly by getting others formally involved on the call. Proactively working with team members for help with presenting content, leading a discussion or opening/closing the meeting are great ways to increase engagement and provide a leadership opportunity for someone, too . A related approach would be inviting a guest speaker to join your call in order to mix things up and inject life into your meeting. Maybe it’s a small panel of guests available for Q&A on a given topic. I’m working to get better about this one as we speak!
- Leverage technology: There are many tools and platforms out there today which provide excellent opportunities to turn your call into a multimedia experience. There isn’t time to go into all of them here, but if your company has an online meeting platform like GoToMeeting or Microsoft Lync to present visuals – give it a try! GoToMeeting even has an app to let folks jump online from the road. How about an interactive quiz builder like Kahoot!, that allows participants to answer questions and compete against their peers in real time? No matter your style or level of technical sophistication, there is something out there to help bring your conference call to life. It can be easy, fun and totally free!
- End on time: To be totally transparent, I have some work to do on this one! But the truth is, if you make a commitment for a 30-minute conference call…you owe it to your team to try and make it a 30-minute call. Everyone starts watching the clock and checking out as the end time draws near anyway – so be a hero and wrap up on schedule!
While there is no avoiding conference calls today – or a silver bullet for increasing engagement – these tips should get you started on the road from boring to brilliant (or at least get close.)
Have any other ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!
“Dave___has left the meeting”