Before I cover some icebreakers that you can use during your sales meetings, let me ask you a quick question; Do you enjoy the sales meetings that you run? As a sales manager they are one of the most important parts of your role. However, the number of productive and motivational sales meetings that I have experienced, can be counted on one hand.
Does the following sound familiar to you? The Sales Meeting starts off with the normal banter between salespeople and then the sales manager opens with the current sales performance, tells you they need to improve and then does the same with the opportunities in your pipeline.
“There’s loads bubbling” reply the sales team followed by some of the Best Sales Excuses you’ve ever heard of why they are not making their Sales Targets. Even including the “there are too many leads” excuse.
The Sales Manager tries to pump everyone up without any real substance, only for the sales team to leave the meeting feeling a little demotivated waiting until next months sales meeting. Oh, the joy.
The bottom line is that a sales meeting needs to be a development event. Yes, you need to review the figures, but more time needs to be spent on coaching, training, and helping your sales team to improve their performance. That approach improves Sales Team Motivation much more effectively than just a number crunch.
And this is where a regular icebreaker activity comes into its own.
Why are Icebreakers Important as Part of a Sales Meeting?
As with any activity involving concentration and creativity, salespeople need to warm up to hit their full potential. When you next run a sales meeting or Sales Training session, it’s a good idea to begin with a warm-up exercise, or icebreaker.
These are not the cringeworthy ‘getting to know you’ activities sometimes forced upon teams who don’t know one another very well. Rather, the exercises we’ll describe below are ways of flexing those cognitive muscles so that your meeting can proceed with full focus and creativity.
We’ve pulled together seventeen of the best. Let us know what you think, and whether anything here worked well for you (or didn’t).
1: Brainstorming Sales Objections
Brainstorming is a classic ideation strategy, which helps teams to quickly source thoughts and ideas, without value judgement or self-censorship.
Apply this strategy to the common statements made by potential clients who resist a purchase. What objections are your team facing? It can be both fun and enlightening to think like a buyer for once. It can also provide empathic insight, which can help your sales professionals to overcome resistance.
Do this with Post-It Notes attached to a whiteboard or write them on a flipchart. Ask your team to pair up, then assign two of the most common objections to each pair. Give them five minutes to come up with at least one strategy to Overcome Each Sales Objection.
For the final five minutes, discuss these solutions as a group.
2: Tricky Questions
Ask each salesperson to think of the trickiest question they have been asked by a potential prospect over the last month. Then each team member should present their question to the group, who have a couple of minutes to answer them.
Examples might include: Why aren’t you offering a free trial of this product? Why would I buy your product over your competitor’s cheaper solution?
Patterns should emerge in both the above exercises, which can be helpful when addressing future customer pain points.
3: Beat The Competition
Analyse the USPs of your two top competitors and compare their offerings to your own. Where are you particularly strong or weak?
This can be done in an abbreviated version by listing just the top 3 pros and cons for each competitor. Make sure everyone is honest about the products and services they are analyzing. Do this for five minutes.
Divide into pairs. In each pair, one person is the salesperson, and one is the customer loyal to one of your competitors. Role play the act of changing a prospect’s mind about their favored choice. Try to do so in no more than ten minutes.
4: Speed Pitch
Dealing with time poor clients is one of the big challenges salespeople face. It’s all very well having the perfect pitch outlined, but if you have only a minute to deliver it, you need to think on your feet.
Divide into small teams. Within each team, brainstorm a couple of sentences that sell your product clearly and fully, but in as few words as possible. After five minutes, present your final pitches to the group.
The winning team is the one whose pitch contains the fewest words, yet still conveys the key selling points of your product offering.
5: What’s Wrong With This Call?
Use a recorded customer servicecall. Play the recording and stop it whenever a mistake is made by the sales professional. Make sure you use a call by an ex-employee, or someone who has agreed to it being used in this way!
Get your salespeople to put a hand up to stop the recording and voice their opinion on what the sales pro did wrong.
Make sure the call is no longer than five minutes in duration. This exercise can also be very useful for training customer service personnel.
Divide into pairs, with the other sales team members watching (it helps to create a little competitive pressure). The first salesperson chooses an object and becomes the potential customer considering a purchase. The second must sell them that object.
To do so they must identify a problem the ‘buyer’ has and present the chosen object as its solution. Keep each turn to a minute or two, then repeat with a different pairing and object.
This exercise focuses the mind on the problem-solving nature of sales, as well as the creativity required to think in the moment. You can remind your team of this experience when they come to discuss the real product offering and customer pain points.
7: Listen Up
When on a call to a prospect, there are certain pieces of personal information your potential customer may give you that can be used as hooks for persuasion. They may indirectly be telling you why your product will solve a specific problem they face.
To perform this exercise, either read aloud a call transcript or play a recording where a customer provides personal insights into their situation.
Without writing anything down, your team should try to recall the useful tidbits of personal data they could leverage were they in a sales situation with the speaker. You can run this exercise a couple of times, with the first run through done cold (your team don’t get the instructions until after you’ve played the call).
8: The Matchmaker
Use printed cards or sheets for this exercise. The idea is to match potential prospects to key products (either your real product range or imaginary ones). The skill being practiced here is primarily recognizing suitable prospects.
Five of the cards feature short product descriptions and the other five contain brief customer biographies, including a description of a task that each customer is trying to undertake. Make sure there is a clear match between each product and one of the customers.
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION: A productivity tool that schedules meetings, organizes Zoom calls and automatically updates your Google calendar.
CUSTOMER DESCRIPTION: A busy middle-manager whose PA has just been let go and does not have a budget for a replacement.
Your salespeople can work in small groups, or individually on this task. Go through the correct answers and discuss any ‘wrong’ answers, especially where there’s an argument to be made that a really good salesperson could still make the sale.
Your sales team should pair up into seller and prospect for this exercise. Use a real product and a typical customer profile for each pair. You may pre-prepare written customer biographies if this helps.
Each seller is only allowed to use questions to counter any statement made by the prospect. The prospects must answer each question asked of them. Hopefully this will help your sales team think about the psychology underlying a customer’s potential resistance or desire to purchase. By asking the right questions, you can identify and answer any pain points.
10: Keeping It Real
Too often, Sales Scripts can become stale, containing empty buzzwords or phrases which mean little to real customers. In this exercise, all such overused or unhelpful terms are identified and eradicated.
First brainstorm your team for overfamiliar, obscure, or meaningless terms you’d like to avoid using. Write all of these up on a whiteboard or flipchart and keep this in sight throughout the exercise. This stage should take less than five minutes.
Divide into pairs with a seller and buyer in each pair. Roleplay a sales call where the seller must avoid using ANY of the terms on the whiteboard. The buyer can make it more challenging by asking questions which might tempt the seller to use a forbidden term.
The exercise emphasizes the gulf between what a buyer understands about your product and what your salesperson knows. Being able to use simple words and phrases to convey your product value propositions can be immensely useful.
11: Common Ground
Establishing Rapport is key to selling, especially by telephone or face to face. It can be useful to try an exercise where you identify connections between the buyer and seller.
Divide into pairs – prospect and salesperson. The prospect starts by making a generic statement about their day, the weather, or how they are feeling. The aim is to begin with small talk and end up somewhere meaningful and connected.
The salesperson must ask questions leading from that initial statement to reach a place in the conversation where they can identify common ground.
Perhaps they have visited the same seaside town, suffered the same sports injury, or attended the same college. You can run this exercise once where the ‘connections’ can be fictitious, and then a second time where the salespeople must use real connections from their own lives.
The trick, as with all good conversations, is to forge connection, while keeping the subject located within the prospect’s experience. In other words, it’s all about the prospect, not the salesperson.
As well as providing a conversational entry-point, common ground can be vital to making a sale. Where both parties genuinely benefit, a deal is likelier to be struck, as this Harvard Business Review article explains.
You can keep this exercise to five minutes and run it with two or three different pairings for each participant.
12: Selling ICE To Greenland
Creativity and quick-thinking are vital skills to nurture. The following game can be a good way of flexing those lateral thinking muscles.
The game uses two sets of flashcards – one set contains brief product descriptions and the second lists unlikely sales prospects. Ideally all the products are a hard sell for all the prospects. This game helps sales professionals deal with some of the bad leads they will inevitably be dealt from time to time.
Divide the group into pairs (or threes) and have one salesperson and one or two prospects (an individual or a couple) per grouping.
Have them randomly select their products and profiles but not show these to the other side of the negotiation. Then let the sales challenge commence. Make sure your prospects get properly into character and offer objections that might typically pertain.
13: Product Quizzes
If you have a new product line to sell, and you want to challenge your team to absorb as much information as quickly as possible, it can be helpful to gamify the process.
Create a focused Sales Presentation about the new product line (perhaps using slides) and read / show this to your team. Then simply run a quiz where you invite answers to key questions about the product.
You can decide whether you want your team to know that a quiz is coming or not. If the quiz is sufficiently compact (perhaps ten questions), you could run it twice. For the second run-through re-read the presentation, then ask ten different questions.
To make it more competitive, you can divide the room into two teams. For the second half of the quiz, you can decide whether you want your team to be provided with pens and notepaper, or simply listen and remember.
Using a quiz provides a more entertaining way to motivate deep product knowledge, while inviting competition between your sales teams.
14: Sales Funnel Experts
Have all of your sales team come armed with their pipeline and a print out of where each deal is in their respective Sales Funnel Stages. Jot down on a whiteboard or flipchart who is the strongest salesperson at each stage.
For example, some salespeople might be able to create proposals quick, but others might have a blockage at the “Creating Proposal” stage whereas others are weak at the “Follow Up” stage.
The objective of this exercise is to identify who the strongest salesperson is at each stage of your Sales Process and for them to present and go over what they do.
Create a best practice guide for each stage of the pipeline and ensure all your sales team receive this.
15: Take Inspiration
Play a short 5-minute clip of a YouTube video and ask your sales team for some key takeaway lessons from it.
The lessons can be examples of inspiration or what not to do!