May 19, 2020

The key to motivational sales meetings

People Management
sales meeting
Bizclik Editor
4 min
The key to motivational sales meetings

A poll conducted by Fusion Learning asked sales leaders about the quality of their sales meetings. On average, sales managers gave themselves just 6.3 out of 10. Only 21 percent rated their meetings at 8 out of 10 or higher – leaving 79 percent at 7 out of 10 or less.

If you find yourself heading into a meeting and you know at the end of it you’ll rate it at 7 out of 10 or less, would you want to attend? Not me. Now, think of your sales team. How energized will they be?

Sales meetings are a critical component of a great sales culture. They are your opportunity to build the skills of the entire team and to motivate them. Contrary to what many sales leaders believe, they don’t need to be loaded down with content. In each meeting, if you provide your team with just one idea, strategy or tactic that will improve their game, and motivate with some positive reinforcement or reward, you will see a gain in productivity and sales results.

You can do this if you follow the six keys Fusion Learning developed to guarantee successful sales team meetings:

1. Start with an energizer

Salespeople are high energy and it’s important to tap this energy early and often. Start your meetings on time and start with some fun. Reward those who show up on time to help eliminate the lateness factor. At Fusion, from week to week you’ll find us doing trivia games, telling funny stories, sharing sales highlights of the week, commenting on their focus for the month ahead. We’ve created over 70 different energizers and captured them so our sales leaders have great energizers at their fingertips for every sales meeting.

2. Keep it simply simple (K.I.S.S.)

This principle will prevent you from bloating your meeting agenda. Always ask, “Does this item need to be in the meeting or could it be done outside the meeting or as pre-work?” You keep it simply simple with four steps: fast – the pace of the meeting; fun – creating the right atmosphere; create value – helping the team to better execute on a key sales skills that will help them close business; and shared ownership – having team members involved and sharing on a regular basis.

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3. Three rules for individual updates

A fantastic and very important part of the meeting that carry one caveat: the topic for individual updates must be small, with answers timed so that they don’t disrupt the overall agenda for the meeting or sap the team’s energy. The three rules for individual updates are set time limits; create different themes around successes, key learnings and focus for the time ahead; and know when to take individual issues offline.

4. Motivate and reward

You must build motivation into every team meeting. The sales team has a tough challenge and need to feel supported and recognized for their hard work. This isn’t about big gifts or exceptional moments; the simplest “thank you” can have great meaning. Categories that we’ve used include: fun rewards (which might include a kitschy item of clothing or trophy); competitive awards (organized around key metrics or goals, or having the team demonstrate a specific skill and then selecting a winner); team awards (where there is an incentive for the whole team, or where each team member recognizes the efforts of someone who supported them); recognition awards; and external rewards where you get feedback from outside the team about team members, or where you recognize someone outside of sales for their help and support.

5. Capability activity

Ongoing professional development is the way your team will stay at the top of their game. Every sales meeting must stretch and challenge team members’ skills and expertise. It is the key to delivering value and delivering on the expectation of the meeting rating at least an 8-out-of-10. Capability activities can focus on prospecting, networking, lead generation, client meetings, presenting solutions, or closing.

6. Standard agenda

While this is not part of an excellent sales meeting, it will help you create them and ensure that you consistently rank an 8 or higher. Keep your agendas in a folder for reference so you don’t repeat any of the fun and creative segments.

We’ve applied these six keys to our own sales meetings, and have managed to bring the amount of preparation time a sales leader needs to 10 minutes or less per meeting. Anybody can have an 8-out-of-10 meeting when they spend two hours preparing for it! Consistently high-value meetings planned in less time are great results. This focused and consistent investment of your time will guarantee gains in your sales teams’ productivity and overall results.


About the author

Kevin Higgins is the CEO of Fusion Learning Inc., recognized by Selling Power as one of the top 20 sales training companies in North America, and as one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers for 2014. He is the author of “Engage Me: Strategies From The Sales Effectiveness Source”,  available on For more information, visit

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Jun 13, 2021

Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl

Kate Birch
5 min
Former CMO for IBM Americas Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl. Maria talks about her new role and her leadership style

Former Chief Marketing Officer for IBM Americas, and an IBM veteran of more than 25 years, Maria Bartolome Winans was recently named CMO for Kyndryl.

Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.

With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.

You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?

I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.

We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.

What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?

I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.

The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.

I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?

When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.

What does success look like to you?

I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.

What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?

I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.

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