Sales meetings can be extremely beneficial for attendees and end customers alike—but not if attendance is low. When planning your next sales meeting, consider these six tips to increase attendance at—and therefore the impact of—your sales meeting.
- Advertise sooner rather than later.
With consistently busy schedules and personal lives to balance, it can be nearly impossible to get all of your dealers on the same page. However, if you announce the date for the sales meeting early, there is a better chance that invitees will be able to clear their calendar for that day so that they can attend, despite their busy schedules. To break through the noise, consider communicating through multiple channels—mailing invites, sending e-blasts, posting on social media and the dealer extranet, and sending other mobile alerts—on a regular basis to keep the sales meeting top of mind.
- Choose a location and time that works for everyone. No one wants to travel across the country… during the holiday season… in the middle of the week… for a work meeting. When planning your dealer meeting or event, carefully consider what you’re asking of them, making the time of the sales meeting, as well as the location, as easy to get to for as many people as possible. This will only increase the likelihood of reps actually showing up.
Another way to make a meeting go from “business as usual” to something dealers are excited for is to announce something that everyone has been anticipating, such as the winners of an annual award or incentive.
- Personalize the invitation. Whether your dealer meeting is for sales managers or an entire dealership, send out personalized invitations with the attendees’ names on them. This same tactic could be applied to an email—anything that will make the dealer feel like they were specifically chosen to attend the meeting makes it feel exclusive and will make it more likely that they attend; a personalized invite increases accountability and positive response to the meeting or event.
If the meeting is going to be more intimate, consider asking an executive or leader in the company to reach out to each invitee and personally invite them. This is an effective and meaningful way to motivate dealers to attend.
- Provide an awesome agenda and unbeatable content. After the initial invite, release the meeting agenda. To increase attendance, the agenda should express how valuable the meeting will be—providing them with content they won’t receive anywhere else, putting them in the presence of influential leaders and giving them an overall experience that makes it worth it to not be in attendance, instead of in the field making sales.
Incorporate fun, applicable activities throughout the meeting that will provide the dealers with best practices and skills that they can utilize to increase sales upon their return. Activities should mimic real-world situations and involve interaction between attendees.
Toward the end of the agenda, carve out time for networking. If dealers see this on the agenda, it could be the only reason they go: to build relationships with executives or other influential leaders. By setting aside time to allow dealers to develop these business relationships, it demonstrates your commitment to helping them build their network for success.
- Subsidize (or cover) travel costs.
Covering (or even just subsidizing) travel expenses increases attendance and builds goodwill. And if it’s not in the budget, consider creative alternatives, such as allowing dealers to use co-op or give a co-op credit, credit dealer parts accounts for a fixed travel allotment per attendee, or award a travel credit based on dealers completing something else (such as online training courses, for example). Even if you can’t absorb 100% of the costs, doing what you can sends a signal to dealers that you value their participation.
- Get feedback.
Once dealers have returned from the meeting, request their feedback through a survey. Ask them what worked well, what didn’t and what they’d like to see at the next meeting. Continuing to include dealers in the conversation will help you plan future events tailored to their needs and will ultimately improve attendance.