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How To Have The Best One-on-One With Your Salespeople

Fewer vehicles are more potent in driving desired behavior than the one-on-one meeting you have with your salespeople. This is the salesperson's best opportunity to get your undivided attention and focus on the items which they may need assistance. It is also the best opportunity to provide focused and relevant feedback on items particular to that salesperson, which are typically not addressed in team meetings.

The one-on-one meeting allows you to tailor your attention for each salesperson, since each member of your team has specific strengths and weaknesses, and each is likely motivated by different things. One-on-one meetings that are run well can be effective in driving behavior and motivating for the salesperson. However, if they are not well-defined or focused, they become a time-consuming task that provides little value to either participant. Here are some ways you can have the best one-on-one meetings with your salespeople.

Guidelines for Your One-on-One

One-on-ones have a high return on investment according to a Gallup report that states, "And while all forms of communication are effective, managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication are the most successful at engaging employees."

There are three areas you need to stay in tune with when you conduct your one-on-one.

Goal: 

Drive team member behavior and performance while providing individual accountability and motivation.

Focus:  

Team member performance against goals and standards established and agreed upon by both parties.

Role:

Both parties must be clear on what is expected of them during these meetings.

Salesperson:

  • Drives the meeting.
  • Provides the data from CRM system/tools.
  • Takes notes to record goals, activities, and M.I.T.s. (Most Important Things)

Sales leader:

  • Listens.
  • Provides feedback and positive reinforcement.
  • Questions/challenges (does not direct) on things that could be done differently.
  • Helps team member set goals for the next meeting.

The One-on-One Agenda

The key to a successful one-on-one meeting is the agenda. It may vary somewhat from company to company, but it is vital to have a defined agenda of things to be covered in your meetings.

For example:

  • Review of M.I.T.'s (Most Important Things - follow-ups and activities) set from the previous one-on-one.
  • What successes did that salesperson have? Why were they successful?
  • Review goals and objectives (reporting of weekly activity and results).
  • What types of things got in the way? What can we do to ensure they don't get in the way again?
  • In what areas do they need help? What skills, resources, etc., do they need?

Make sure that your one-on-one meeting stays focused on specific goals and objectives from the weekly reporting process and does not transition into a pipeline review and discussion about deal strategy – this happens all the time, but should be handled in separate conversations.

Tips for Value-driving One-on-One's

Consistency is Key

This meeting may be one of the easiest meetings to delay or cancel as other things heat up. By doing so, you are also removing accountability. If it is not a priority for you, it will not be a priority for them. According to a Soapbox study, only "48.5% of managers have weekly one-on-ones."

Have Them Put in the Effort

Gathering information and data is the salesperson’s responsibility. Do not create extra work for yourself by gathering all the information for them. Make it clear that they are expected to bring the data and present it to you. Make sure they own it. According to a Soapbox study, only "41.3% of employees use personal productivity/note-taking tools."

Don't Deviate from the Agenda

Do not let the conversation slide to specific deals or pipelines. Doing so will take away from the primary purpose of the one-on-one. Create a parking lot of items to discuss at another time (but don't forget to follow-up on them).

Don't be Distracted

Close your door, turn off your phone, and don't allow yourself to get pulled away. This is your best opportunity to help your team member. Remember it is THEIR time. Refrain from doing the talking. Let your team members present to you first, and resist telling them what to do unless they ask.

Coaching Opportunities

Don't tell your team, coach them - it may be easier and quicker for managers to slip into "fix-it" mode and provide all the answers - but this prohibits developing the team. The best scenario is if you teach "them to fish" rather than training them to come to you to get the answer every time they have an issue.

In the End

The benefits of one-on-one meetings are that they increase your team's productivity and quality of work. They also let your salespeople discuss important ideas, remove obstacles that might block productivity, and develop a list of priorities on which they should focus.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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