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Radical Rendezvous

Bye-bye boring. You can plan a lively sales conference without breaking the bank.
July 1, 2003

Eyes glassy, mouths agape, tongues lolling. No, you haven't stumbled into the mysterious diseases room at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but rather an equally deadly environment-the tedious sales meeting. Another symptom? The presentation of 12,345 PowerPoint slides in a room with no windows.

For a sales rep, there aren't many more mind-numbing propositions than being pulled from the field to endure three days of sales meetings. But because sales conferences offer an excellent venue for reps to discuss a new product launch or simply to regroup and re-energize, there are many powerful reasons to plan a gathering. Says Chris Lytle, the author of The Accidental Salesperson (Amacom), "Getting together with people who sell the same things you do and face the same problems is eye-opening."

Would you like to pull together a lively sales conference that will inspire your reps to sell better, bond and share their most effective selling practices? Here are a few great ways to plan a conference that will neither break the bank nor cause monotony en masse.

Lytle suggests that planners create a menu of entertaining activities and let people opt in. While golf may be the choice for some, a massage and a manicure may be the choice for others. As for the ratio of fun to education and training, Brooks recommends 25 percent fun to 75 percent education, explaining, "A well-planned meeting should be a seamless blend of both."

For those entrepreneurs on a tight budget, William Ward, Warehime professor of business administration at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, advises being especially vigilant in the development stage. "Plan, plan, plan, and get competitive bids from various providers," says Ward. "Analyze the costs relative to your goals, and tailor the meeting to deliver maximum bang for [your] buck."

Kimberly L. McCall is the president of McCall Media & Marketing Inc. (, a business communications company in Durham, Maine.