Are a lot of sales meetings a waste of time?

Do your salespeople place a high value on sales meetings? Ask the outside salespeople in the LBM industry what they think about their company’s sales meetings and nine out of 10 of them will tell you they are a waste of time. I make this statement based on the answers I have received when I have surveyed our industry’s sales representatives myself.

There are several causes, but based on my notes, there are three primary reasons our industry’s salespeople don’t consider their sales meetings worthwhile:

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  • The overall discomfort of most meeting facilities.
  • The exterior noise and the interruptions that commonly take place no matter where the meeting is held.
  • The repetitive nature of the topics that are discussed at virtually every sales meeting.

Comfort of the meeting space

As a store manager or sales manager, do you agree that improving the comfort of the meeting space could make a significant difference in the learning experience for your salespeople? If your answer is yes, I recommend you ask your salespeople to make a list of the specific improvements they believe would enhance their learning experience.

Based on my experience, here are a few areas I would list:

  • As long as we cannot congregate when holding meetings, go ahead and make the best of Zoom, but put some teeth in your rules against using Zoom while driving.
  • Don’t allow meetings in an area either off site or in an area of the business where announcements over the PA system can be heard.
  • Do not allow cell phones to ring in the meeting; plan several 15-minute breaks during the day to return phone calls.
  • Specify comfortable chairs and writing surfaces.
  • If the meeting room is too large, invest in a speaker system.
  • Especially for a full day meeting, serve a hot lunch and include a sales training segment, even if it has to be a short session.

Control interruptions

Salespeople are too important to the customer service aspect of a building supply business to be completely cut off from contact with their customers or other members of the organization. The key here is to control the times during the day when interruptions are going to be allowed. The manager in charge of the meeting should protect the salespeople from any interruption that is going to preoccupy them to such an extent that they cannot concentrate on the topics being discussed in the meeting.

If practical in your operation, I have seen a smooth flow of critical pieces of information to the salesperson at designated times during the day by appointing an inside salesperson to funnel notes and telephone messages to the individual salesperson.

Repetitive topics

Shipping and sales predictions: How accurately are your salespeople able to estimate how much they are going to sell by product in the coming month? Consider eliminating this exercise. Let’s face it, most of them don’t have a clue what their current customers are going to bill in the upcoming month. Therefore, what they offer is their best guesstimate as to what will ship to each job before the end of the month.

What is the price of commodities going to do between now and the end of the month? This is where buyers try to earn their keep. They may pretend they know, but they really don’t, as salespeople add up the sales they believe they have in their hip pocket.

Try this—include in sales meetings a discussion about what salespeople can accomplish despite the blunders from other departments.


Bill Lee is a respected sales and business consultant in the LBM industry. For more information, contact Bill at

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