Being in sales for over a decade I have had the opportunity to attend national sales meetings in some of the most amazing venues across the nation and have heard some of the most charismatic speakers, motivational leaders and activists deliver key note . These have been that once a year chance to meet colleagues from different parts of the country and the management teams from HQ. I have often left these meetings making new connections, strengthening old ones and with a renewed sense of purpose. So, when dates were announced for our first national meeting which would have over 500 participants, I was naturally very curious to see how something of this scale would work remotely.
Traditionally the goal of the national meetings has been to bring the sales and marketing teams together, paint a vision of the future, share strategies and mobilize a group of people to follow the tactical plan to achieve that vision, in a fun and productive way. Can this be done remotely? Well I got to experience it firsthand and here are my three key takeaways to make it a success:
Technology: This might seem obvious, but the foundation of the meeting will depend on the ability of the participants to be familiar and comfortable with the technology. By now, most people are very comfortable with Zoom, Teams, Skype and other systems that corporations are using for in house and customer engagement. However to host a meeting of this scale companies will use virtual event management platforms such as Spotme, Convene, Boomset, etc. So it’ll be imperative to spend time before hand to make sure participants are familiar with them.
Prework: This brings me to the next point- for any meeting to be successful it requires tons of preparation and prework but to run a production like this you need to ensure the pre-work is done not only by the people hosting the meeting but also by the attendees. L&D teams and leadership will have to take the time prior to meeting to explain technology, generate excitement and over communicate the logistics. All small details such as to who is leading a workshop, what each participants roles might be, who the champions would be, who will be the go to person for technological/logistical challenges, etc have to be decided and shared.
Keep the parts of live meetings that you can: Lastly trying to mimic a live meeting helps with an easier adaptation while also keeping it interactive. Making sure there is a fun overarching theme for the meeting, sprinkling time for happy hours, small group meet and greet with the senior leadership, having contests and prizes to keep it competitive, etc will go a long way. Companies can be creative by sending some meeting swags to go with the theme and maybe having the participants order some snacks using online vendors such as Snack box, Snacknation, Simpalo snack, etc. Also letting the participants order lunch using one of the many food delivery services (Doordash, Uber eats, Grubhub, etc.) on the meeting days can be a nice touch.
After a very successful remote meeting this week, am I willing to say that they are the way forward and should substitute all in-person meetings- well quite not for the obvious reason that there is no substitute for in-person after work interactions, looking someone in the eye and breaking bread with them for building trust and strong relationships. However, do I believe these large-scale meetings can be done well remotely to be productive and efficient? Surely yes. Apart from the tangible benefits of cost and resource savings, the intangible benefits of sleeping in your bed after a long day of meetings, being able to cuddle and kiss the kids goodnight and the pure bliss of avoiding the long airport lines and the insane rush to get back home after these meetings, surely make them oh so lucrative.
Have any of you had a chance to attend a national sales meeting remotely yet? What are your thoughts and key take away?