I came downstairs from my hotel room about 6 a.m. My role in this out-of-town meeting was to be facilitator.
I helped our new VP of sales put his presentation together for our event, along with the talking points, sales kits, product packs and layout design of the room.
With our marketing department the materials for some 100 people had been ordered. I drove to the distribution center to proof a test run before the final printing, and, when I got to the hotel the day before the event, I met with the event planner to ensure the boxes, banners and other items had been delivered and would be sitting in our meeting room.
(Related: 14 Misconceptions About Selling Annuities)
Some people drove in, if they lived within two hours of the event. Others were flown in the night before, to stay in the same hotel as the event, which was promoted to start at 10 a.m. the next morning.
It’s important to set the room up with two aisles, with one on each side of the room, and a center aisle, so that, when speaking, we can walk up and down the aisles, engaging with the audience.
The projector must be set up so that, when the presenter is in the “speaking well,” he’s not walking in front of the light projecting the presentation. Or, if there’s a reverse projector screen, one must have the image at an angle, so the speaker isn’t competing with the presentation.
After setting the room up with the event staff, and walking around, from the back of the room to the front, to test for good visual and audio levels, I then go through all presentations, videos and music to make sure they are in the order of the agenda, for a seamless experience.
Once all this is completed, and I’m confident the audience will have the experience they deserve, I then lay out all the material that both the audience and the presenters will need.
There is a 3-foot round table on stage with bottled water, the pointer, and a clicker for the presentations. There’s also a copy of the agenda, along with any other notes the presenters might need.
Timing is critical for a rewarding experience. After all, the participants are commission-based sales professionals. They made the choice to not only sacrifice the opportunity to earn a commission for the length of the event, many also made the choice to be away of their families. Taking breaks throughout the day, having enough time for lunch, and meeting the goals of the event are important.
The doors to the meeting room are shut until 30 minutes prior to the start of the event. This builds anticipation and ensures that, when participants walk in, they are engaged.
The outcome of this event rides on a couple of things that are out of my control: the new VP of sales needs to be “on deck” in time, prepared and polished with his presentation.
I try to get the presenters in the room one hour prior to starting, so we can complete a dry run, and make any last-minute changes to the presentation, room layout or needed materials, so they can be available to welcome the participants as they enter the room.
It’s now 9:50 a.m. The doors to the room are open. People are filing in.
I have called our new VP of sales.
This time, he said, “Lloyd, I’ll be down, there’s no hurry. They’re coming to my meeting; I’m not coming to their meeting.”
And therein is a snapshot of how a sales distribution team’s production, in less than a year, went from a little over $1.2 million a week in annual volume to under $750,000 a week.
Having a title of VP of sales does not, in and of itself, make you a leader.
It might make you the person with authority; however, authority is not leadership, and it does not produce results. It creates chaos, confusion and resentment.