Remember that sales meeting in Glengarry Glen Ross? Jack Lemon couldn't sell anything and kept coming back with excuses. He gets up to get a cup of coffee and the new sales manager says: “Put. That coffee. Down. Coffee's for closers only.”

I feel for him. Sales meetings should be filed away as ineffective and replaced with a one-on-one meeting between the closer and the sales manager. We got rid of our sales meeting five years ago.

In sales meetings it's easy for the sales manager to come down on an individual salesperson, and it's just as easy for closers to “team up” with others to rebut the boss on leads, pay, hold-backs, lead times, etc.

Sure, you can say: “It's my way or the highway.” But threats, let alone abuse, aren't likely to get you the results you want. Coming in every morning and saluting “the boss,” only to be taken to task in front of everyone before the leads are distributed, creates extreme negativity and is counterproductive.


The owner or sales manager should schedule one day per week with each closer for a face-to-face discussion on the good and bad points of his production. The only way to do this is by following up on No Sales to find out why that salesperson blanked. If he didn't show product, pre-judged the lead, or simply failed to give the prospect a reason to buy, the only way to know that is by having someone call the homeowner. If you don't call the No Sales, you're relying on what the rep says — and that may be embellished information.

Keep your one-on-one focused. When I have that conversation, I follow these simple guidelines.

  • Ask about the health of your closer and his or her family.
  • Inquire about personal problems, especially those that could be affecting sales.
  • Find out what's happening in the field.
  • Ask: How's the product?
  • Ask what the prospect is saying about it. What are their likes and dislikes?
  • When you follow these points you can correlate what you already know from having called the No Sales and can take appropriate action.

    Oral threats — “Joe, I'm giving you two days to clean it up or you're out of here!” — might work in the very short term, but they bring you down to a level that's hard to crawl out of.

    CATCHING UP On the other hand, giving — or withholding — leads speaks volumes to the salesforce. I distribute leads late in the afternoon of the day before they're run. I give them out with notes about what I read into the lead and what might be a good way to sell it. The message to the sales rep: This is yours to lose.