The winning sales huddle: 10 ways to amp up your team
Sales huddles are an important part of building and maintaining a winning sales culture. You get your entire team together in real-time, bring everyone on the same page and get them fired up to tackle the tasks ahead of them.
If you're leading a remote sales team, you can do this virtually via Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Slack with their new "Huddle" feature, or whatever your online meeting tool of choice is, but make sure everyone turns on their camera to have at least that bit of face-to-face time.
Sales huddles aren't sales meetings
I'll say this again throughout this piece, but it's important that you understand: a huddle is not just another name for a sales meeting. It's a distinctly different experience and serves a distinctly different purpose.
If you've ever worked in a large, enterprise sales team, you might have experienced that conventional sales meetings are often a recurring nuisance for the sales manager to organize, and a dreaded waste of time for the reps. A huddle is the exact opposite: you want to leave your reps wanting more.
Sales huddle ideas
Keep in mind that you don't want to push just any old sales meeting idea into your huddle. So while I'll offer you a wide range of ideas, I want you to be very deliberate when deciding which ones to include in your own agenda.
Set a goal for the day or until the next huddle. This can be an activity goal, an outcome goal, or a personal learning goal. Setting sales goals also enables your team to hold each other accountable and fosters a sense of friendly competition.
Find fun ways to create incentives for reps that hit their goal, whether it's cold hard cash or simply recognition in the company, celebrating a "rep of the day" in Slack chat, or a simple shoutout from the team.
Encourage people to share their wins. But also watch out for those team members that aren't as vocal about their wins and prompt them to share a specific win you know would be good to hear for the team.
Discuss key metrics
And only key metrics. In other words, only metrics that are relevant and actionable for the entire team should make it into your huddles. Remember: A huddle is not a conventional sales team meeting.
Use data to guide best practices. Look at what the data tells you about top-performing reps, and how they're different from low-performing reps, especially on an activity level.
Real-time activity metrics like dials made, emails sent, and talk time are often good ones to bring up, particularly for reps that are doing prospecting or in charge of building their own sales pipeline.
LinkedIn post of the day
LinkedIn is a great platform if you're in B2B sales these days. You can ask your reps to post something on their personal LinkedIn on a rotating basis, and then have the rest of the team engage on that post: Like it, comment it, share it, tag someone from their network in it.
All this will help create engagement and surface the content to a wider audience on LinkedIn. It leads to more employee recognition and raises awareness for your brand.
Ask your team
Ask your team what they want to be part of the agenda. Not only will it give them a sense of ownership, but oftentimes you'll find that they come up with the best ideas. (That's certainly been the case many times for me.)
Depending on how tight your crew is, you might want to use a few icebreakers to warm them up. Find what's right for you here. This can be sharing a silly sales moment, cracking a few jokes about the marketing team and the leads they provide, making a self-deprecating joke, or asking a non-work-related icebreaker question.
Some potential icebreaker questions:
- What's one quirky interest or habit you have?
- What’s the best trip (traveling-wise) you ever had?
- What did you do on the weekend?
- What's one thing your coworkers don't know about you?
- Would you rather ... (never be able to travel abroad again, or never be able to watch TV again / hike in the mountains or dive in the ocean / get a tooth pulled or have to use Salesforce for the rest of your life)
- What TV show do you wish would still be made?
- What was your first job?
- If you would have to turn into an animal, what animal would you choose?
- What was the last great movie you've watched / great book you've read?
If none of these do it for you, you can check out this exhaustive list of icebreaker questions for various scenarios.
Pick one tip that can help your reps sell more. This could be a sales tactic, a cold calling tip that helps reps engage prospects more effectively, a quick role play for a particular situation, or a good response to a specific sales objection.
But don't try to fit too much into it. Focus on just one per huddle that your reps can take away.
Coach for specific challenges
You can give your salespeople the option to share a specific challenge they've encountered. You and the team can then offer support and advice. Fostering this kind of peer sales coaching also helps create a sense of camaraderie amongst your reps.
Motivate the team
Everything you do during a huddle should in some way be motivating, but one of the most powerful things you can do is to actually create a ritual that gets the entire team fired up.
We've had sales teams that used to watch one of my Daily Sales Motivation videos every day together to get started. They'd get an inspirational sales quote and a corresponding action item to get them fired up to make sales calls.
Sales huddle games
You can even come up with quick game ideas to play.
- Sales contest: Launch a contest or competition for your team. Who makes the most calls, who books the most meetings, who gets the best response rates to their emails, who reaches the most decision-makers, who creates the most opportunities.
- Timed pitch: Ask one member of your sales team to pitch your product to a specific industry or buyer persona in less than 45 seconds. Afterward, analyze the sales pitch and provide feedback together with the rest of the team.
- Product knowledge quiz: Ask a few questions about your product. E.g. What's our most popular integration in the logistics industry?
- Sales process quiz: Ask questions around specific elements of your sales process and documentation. E.g. How do you mark that you've reached a decision-maker in our CRM?
Sales huddle games are a great way to reinforce elements of your sales training program on an ongoing basis and keep your reps sharp. You can also check out our list of sales training games and design shorter versions.
Set your agenda
As always, you don't want this to be a typical sales meeting agenda. Keep it simple. Focus on something that makes an emotional impact. We all get bogged down by complexity over time. It's your job as a sales leader to create clarity and camaraderie for your whole team.
Less is more when it comes to your agenda. Keep it tight.
Should [agenda item] be part of a huddle?
If you're not sure whether to include a particular agenda item or not, lean towards no. It's better to keep your huddles a bit lean than to stuff too much into them until they become pointless. Don't just try to fit typical sales meeting topics into a huddle—make your huddles unique and distinct within your sales organization.
The last thing you want is that your reps feel this is just lost selling time.
How often should you conduct a sales huddle?
However often is best for your team. It really depends, but one thing that's universally true is: Stick to a consistent schedule. Create a clear structure for your team.
- Some teams do a morning huddle on a daily basis. If that's you, keep your huddles short and sweet, and do make sure you're motivating your sales reps. Consider your design: Either have a fixed pattern that you repeat every day, keep it completely open, or have a main theme for each day of the week. Whatever your choice, think of turning this into a daily ritual for your sales team. Kelly McDonald argues that you should do a mini sales meeting every day.
- Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are another popular frequency.
- Mondays and Fridays are another common choice. You typically set the goals at the beginning of the week and motivate the reps, and then do a review and share learnings at the end of the week.
- Once a week, typically on Mondays, can be an option too. This communicates that you value and respect your reps' time, that you want to get out of their way to let them do the work, and that you trust them to do what's right. However, make yourself very available and be proactive in managing and leading your team. If you've never conducted a huddle, and this is a completely new thing for you, doing this as a weekly sales meeting might be an option—it makes it easier to create learnings, and turn it into something that your team looks forward to. Once you find that there's not enough time in your huddles, you can branch out to a twice-weekly rhythm.
The guiding principle should be: Do your reps look forward to the huddle most of the time, or do they dread it? If they dread it, are bored by it, perceive it as a waste of time—roll back and do your huddles less often, keep them shorter. (More on the ideal length of a huddle later on.)
Best time to huddle?
Just do it in the morning. One of the primary objectives is to get your team members amped up, and there's little point in doing so once they wrap up their day.
There's a side benefit to doing it in the morning too, especially if you're doing daily huddles: It helps to keep your reps on time. Reps perform best on a consistent basis when you give them a clear structure, and the daily morning ritual gets them in the right mindset.
The only other time where a huddle might make sense is in the early afternoon. That time a while after lunch when the energy in the room is typically low, and reps could use a push to get into a higher gear.
Another factor to consider: If your team has the best reach rates at a particular time of day, you don't want to get in the way of that. So if your reps are scheduling the most meetings between 1 pm to 3 pm, then don't make them attend a huddle during their peak time.
How long should your sales huddles be?
The simple answer is just a tad bit shorter than your team wants them to be.
Your sales reps should look forward to the huddles. They're also called stand-up meetings or if done daily, they can be called daily sales scrums—and if you're doing them standing up, that's all the more reason to keep them short. You won't be sitting around a table munching pastries and sipping coffee. If anything, a better metaphor for the effect that a sales huddle should have on your team is doing a line.
In general, the more often you conduct a huddle, the shorter your huddles should be. If you're doing daily sales huddles, I recommend 5 to 15 minutes, 30 minutes max.
If you do just one huddle a week, 15 to 30 minutes is adequate.
But keep in mind: A huddle is not a traditional sales meeting. Keep it short and sweet. Make it an event, an emotional experience that aligns your whole team. There's nothing worse than making your salespeople come together for something that they perceive as a waste of time.
Who should conduct the sales huddle?
Well, obviously you, the sales manager. Right? If you're reading this article, then yes, the answer is probably you, whether you're a team lead, director, or a founder that's involved in the day-to-day sales process.
When one of your sales reps starts going off on a tangent or dives too deep into a particular subject, it's your responsibility to step in and moderate. Tell them: "You're making a great point, and I think this deserves its own discussion. Let's add it as a sales meeting agenda item (or discuss it 1-on-1), and for the sake of time, let's move on so we can wrap up this huddle on time."
How to create a sales huddle template
You should have some kind of structure, and the best way to do that is to create a template.
If you do your huddles completely face-to-face on a video call, a mental outline in your head is all you need.
But we're visual creatures. It helps to give your team something to look at.
You can just use a Google Slides, PowerPoint, or Apple Keynote template for your daily huddles and either project that into the room or do a screen share in your online conferencing tool of choice.
Share a dashboard or report from your CRM showcasing real-time metrics. Sales leaderboards are great for daily huddles as they help foster healthy internal competition.
Here are 3 sample sales huddle templates:
You absolutely should design your own format, but it's often helpful to look at some templates as a starting point and see what you want to take. However, always keep in mind what the main purpose of your huddles should be: Do you want to motivate? Educate? Foster team spirit? Get a sense of how the team and reps are doing?
The main objective of your huddles should determine how you structure them. (Keep in mind: you can also rotate this for different days of the week.)
1) The "I'm confused and don't know the difference between a huddle and a sales meeting"-huddle
Alright, this is a tongue-in-cheek agenda. Don't use this, but there's a reason why I list it here.
Time: 45 minutes
- Icebreaker opening (5 minutes)
- Share wins & successes (5 minutes)
- Check-in on deal statuses (10 minutes)
- Discuss roadblocks and obstacles (10 minutes)
- Review numbers & performance (5 minutes)
- Competitor updates (5 minutes)
- Quick sales huddle game (5 minutes)
Again, don't use this. The reason why I included it here is that I see this way too often, and this is why many sales teams came to hate huddles and see them as a waste of time. (And in this case, they're right.)
2) The Hype Huddle
Time: 5 minutes
1. Share 1 win (1 minute)
2. Set 1 goal or theme to focus on for the day/week (2 minutes)
3. Motivate your crew (2 minutes)
A quick 10-minute huddle to get the team excited and motivated. This is extra powerful if you find an overarching theme for the win, the goal, and the way you motivate them.
An example of a theme could be to foster collaboration—in that case, motivational quotes around sales teamwork can be great for wrapping up your session. If you do a Monday huddle, quotes that get your reps fired up for the week are a good fit.
3) The Coaching Huddle
Time: 15 minutes
- Icebreaker (1 minute)
- Share 1 win (1 minute)
- Discuss key metrics (2 minutes)
- Coach for 1 specific challenge (7 minutes)
- Sales huddle game (2 minutes)
- Motivate the team (2 minutes)
You might think: Well, what's the point of coaching for 1 specific challenge in 7 minutes? How meaningful can anything that you can coach in 7 minutes actually be?
But there's something powerful about a focused, 7-minute session. For one, it forces you to narrow down on one specific idea, situation, problem, or technique. Your reps will often find that they are already familiar with what you coach, but this helps solidify the learning even for those that already are good at it. Plus, it helps those who aren't good at this particular technique yet. It also gives reps a chance to weigh in with their own tips, and top performers might be able to contribute an alternative angle.
Also check out Mark Brooks's agenda template, which definitely resembles a conventional sales meeting more, yet is still well-designed.
How to end your huddles
You can ask your team what their favorite takeaway in the meeting was or how it'll impact their day. You can reinforce the main point of the meeting, or have some sort of final ritual to elevate the energy of your reps.
The best sales leaders understand that their #1 job is to create an environment for their reps that brings out the best in them. Give them all the know-how, sales resources, and incentive they need to win—and then fire them up and set them free.
Come together, right now, all with me
Sales huddles are a powerful tool to keep your reps on track, manage the energy of your crew, elevate their sales skills and improve the performance of your team.
Lead by example. Set the tone for the culture you want to see. Embody the attitude you want your reps to internalize.
Use the advice shared here to create or improve your own huddles, but also keep an open and curious mind. Experiment, find out what works best for your team. And if you find something that works really well, let me know on LinkedIn!
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