How To Ruin Your Next National Sales Meeting

Meetings that are too long, with badly planned agendas, unengaging communication and limited acknowledgement of good performance will produce equally underwhelming results. For a successful national sales meeting, heed this advice.


The only time during the entire year when the country-wide sales team gets together is the annual sales kick-off meeting. Obviously, everyone wants this meeting to be a success.

As a keynote speaker who has had the privilege of presenting at more than one hundred annual sales meetings, I thought I would share some of the ways companies sabotage their annual sales conventions.

Wrong Length

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered people forget facts at a predictable rate and that the greatest learning actually occurs by studying less. His famous ‘Forgetting Curve’ (see above) shows that meeting attendees will already have forgotten 80% of what they learned just two days before. You should keep this in mind when you are deciding on holding a three, four, or five day sales meeting.

Related: Run Effective Sales Meetings

Wrong Agenda

You’re making a mistake if every session at your meeting is a ‘deep-dive’ about product specifications, features, and functionality. Ideally, your agenda should include at least six different types of sessions:

  1. ‘State of the Nation’ presentations about the company and sales, marketing, R&D, customer support and other pertinent areas of the company.
  2. Product-related sessions from the prospective customer’s point of view.
  3. Competitive comparison sessions.
  4. Personal sales skills development sessions that address your biggest sales challenges and complement your particular sales cycle methodology.
  5. Sales strategy sessions based upon real-world win-loss studies and information.
  6. Motivational guest speakers and humorous presentations, video clips, skits, games, etc.

Wrong Communication

Too many sales kick-offs are death by PowerPoint where presenter after presenter lectures the sales organisation. These meetings don’t involve their sales people in any aspect of the group presentations.

Key sales people should be asked to present summary overviews of their most important wins. Whenever I keynote a meeting, I will also moderate a panel that I call ‘Tales From the Field’ where top sales people
are interviewed about their major wins and losses.

Related: Put An End to Pointless Sales Meetings

Wrong Meeting Facility

Consider the following when selecting the hotel and meeting facility.  How far is it from the airport? This forgotten factor is important because no one likes the hassle of flying all day only to have to shuttle for another hour or two to a hotel.

The hotel meeting facility you choose also sends a message to the sales team.

Is the company trying to send a message of austerity based upon the economic climate or do you want them to feel appreciated for all their hard work? Whatever your situation is, make sure the hotel mirrors the main messages being delivered by the senior leaders presenting at the meeting.

Wrong Acknowledgement

No one has ever been fired for giving too many compliments or handing out too much recognition at a sales conference. Awards are extremely important because sales people enjoy the acclaim and the public identification as a role model with their peers. Therefore, compliments to individual sales people should be given out continuously throughout the sales kick-off and awards should always be done in full view of the entire organisation.