The Annual Sales Meeting…Big Success or Wasted Opportunity?

The Annual Sales Meeting…Big Success or Wasted Opportunity?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Get all the salespeople and some top brass together. Play some golf and plan for next year. Sounds pretty simple. So simple that more than 75% of the annual meetings that take place, are total wastes of money and effort. Why? Four words: poor planning, insufficient budget.

An annual meeting is integral to the success of next year’s sales performance. It’s a one-time opportunity to recognize past performance and inspire achievement for the next twelve months. It’s also an expensive endeavor.

To make these meetings successful requires a lot of work months before the meeting takes place. Planning one? How will you take advantage of yours?

Here are some ideas and challenges to make you re-think the process. (Note: If you’re on the sales team, and “not responsible” for the meeting, please clip this article and send it to the powers that be.)

Preplan. Choose an environment for relaxed fun and learning. A resort with sporting options and nice meeting rooms.

Pre-question. The participants. Ask them about problems and needs about strengths and frustrations about themselves and their goals. Use the questionnaires to personalize the training portion of the meeting.

Pre-budget. A nice place. Transportation. Lots of fun. Great food. A first class speaker/trainer. Awards. And more fun.

Start with a bang. Do group fun first. Play a round of golf. Have a big dinner. Show pictures of last year. Have a Karaoke party (the best way to get everyone to get to know the others).

A regal welcome. A short and sweet welcome from the CEO at the first formal gathering 10 minutes. Tell a few personal stories about the climb up the ladder. A personal thanks for the group’s hard work.

Review the wins. The victories of the past year. Repeat a few (short) stories of the biggest triumphs. Bask in success for a while. Gloat.

Spotlight one or two people. Have them tell the group how they made a big sale, saved a deal or used a new technique.

Thank the team. Thank (and applaud) the people that made it happen. People love applause.

Award the best. From the CEO and sales manager. Have high quality plaques, trophies and prizes. Have several categories so there can be lots of winners. Biggest sale. Most new customers. Highest volume. Fewest lost customers. Most improved. Best collections. Fewest returns or cancellations.

Plan together. The next year is the focus of the meeting. Let the sales team be part of the plan. Don’t just give them the next year’s game plan. Let the sales team help make it. Making your sales team to take ownership of sales goals is only possible when they participate in the process.

Goal everything. Let each team member agree to his or her goals and create a personal action plan to achieve them. Create daily, weekly and monthly numbers. Not just ending numbers, but what it takes to get to the end. How many leads it takes to make one appointment, how many appointments it takes to make a sale. The goal should not just be an end number. There should be a goal for leads and appointments as well.

Train professionally. Hire an outside professional to train the group. Plan the training to be both inspirational and real world. Use the pre-questionnaire to set the agenda, and personalize the training. There should be workbooks, workshops, role play and video recording. The training should be a combination of inspiration and motivation with actual selling situations and answers. Training should be at least 50% of the meeting time. Every participant should be personally energized and empowered to achieve his goals for the new year. EVERYONE should attend the training from the CEO down (unless they already know everything). Success Tactic: Management’s sales philosophy can be embraced and reinforced by the trainer as third party (and expert) endorsement of company practices.

Eat like kings. Have the best food that money can buy. People will remember the quality of the meeting by the quality of the fun, training and food. Mostly food.

Build relationships. Have “free time” for people to get to know each other.

Network. Salespeople face problems alone, but can solve them together (with the help of a professional facilitator). Leave a few hours for problem solving, informal meeting and socializing time.

Other Success Tactics:

  • Take lots of photos.
  • Video the Karaoke.
  • Keep speeches short, entertaining and educational.
  • Have a (quality) commemorative for everyone shirt, hat, award of appreciation.
  • Stick to the agenda.

The CEO Issues A Final Challenge. Ten minutes of a prepared (memorized), inspirational message that will keep the team talking (and achieving) for the next year.

Want first class results from your annual sales meeting?
Make the meeting first class.


Want a list of the 25 most popular sales training programs for annual meetings? Just go to click Access GitBit, register, and enter the words Annual Meeting in the search box.