How to Run an Effective One-on-one Meeting with Your Sales Rep

Good managers and executives know through experience the importance of frequent, honest personal communication with your employees in order to better understand their situation, their successes and the challenges that they face. Individual meetings benefit both parties: managers are able to keep an ear to the ground about goings-on at the company, while employees are able to voice their concerns and receive personalized advice and feedback.

It’s not enough just to check in with your sales reps while you’re heading back from lunch, even if you do it every day. You need to set aside a block of time away from the daily grind that allows both of you to speak freely about anything that’s on your mind.

Even once you’ve agreed to hold individual meetings, you need to make sure you do it correctly. One-on-one sales rep meetings can either be a productive source of valuable discussion or a boring, unhelpful waste of time for both parties. Follow the five steps below, and you’ll be sure to get the most out of your one-on-one meetings.

1. Establish a Regular Schedule of Meetings

It’s important for your sales reps to feel like they have access to you on a regular basis and that they can come to you for advice whenever they’re facing a particularly thorny issue. Without a disciplined schedule, however, it’s easy for either person to treat the meeting more casually than it deserves. Both parties should come prepared with topics of discussion, whether it’s last week’s work or next quarter’s targets.

By establishing and adhering to a day and time for your meeting, you let your employees know that you value their time and input seriously. Whether it’s 30 minutes once a week, one hour every two weeks or whatever works best for you, pick a structure and stick to it.

One more note: don’t make a habit of canceling. The occasional request to reschedule when something comes up is fine, but doing it any more often communicates to your employees that you see your sessions as expendable.

2. Know the Difference Between Coaching and Forecasting

For your employees, the primary purpose of these individual conversations is to develop as a valuable member of your sales team through your oversight and advice. Rather than overwhelm your sales reps with facts, figures, forecasts and key performance indicators, give them the coaching that they need to achieve their goals and potential.

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Take your one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to build your employees’ confidence and encourage and support them to meet the challenges that they face at work. Don’t dominate the conversation: rather, pose questions to them that provide insight into their thought process, their understanding of the company and their attitude toward adversity.

3. Don’t Walk Through Every Deal in the Pipeline

Although you might feel that you should be as informed as possible on your sales reps’ activities, there’s no need for you to involve yourself in the specifics of every deal that your reps are working on. The time that you have in these one-on-one sessions is valuable, and stepping through the details may take up too much of the meeting.

Instead, trust that your reps will inform you about major developments for each deal when they occur and concentrate your discussion on the deals that are most important or that need the most attention. Be sure to follow up on progress at your next one-on-one meeting.

4. Spend Time on Every Stage in the Pipeline

Although you may not wish to spend time on every deal on your sales reps’ plates, you should discuss the progress of deals that they’re handling at each stage of the sales pipeline. From this conversation, you should be able to tell whether they’re on track to meet their quotas or whether they’re in danger of falling behind.

By understanding your employees’ actions and the speed at which deals move through the pipeline, you’ll be able to see where their strengths and weaknesses are so that you can identify how your team works best together.

5. Have an Objective Measure of the Status of Each Deal

Having a way to keep track of sales reps’ progress and objectives is crucial for managers who want to better assess their employees’ performance. Each deal should be categorized by where it is in the sales pipeline, from first contact to presentation to closing.

Although you don’t need to talk about the specifics of each of your sales rep’s deals, as discussed above, you should have a way to evaluate the progress of each deal. This helps you and your sales reps understand which deals are most likely to close and which ones need special attention or a different approach so that you can follow up at a later date.

Final Thoughts

One-on-one meetings are often treated by both employee and manager as a pain or a formality, but when handled correctly, they can be a powerful source of coaching and improvement. Following a discipline around one-on-one sessions helps you escape the deal-by-deal drudgery and allows you to develop your sales reps’ full potential over time.

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