Helping Managers Have Impactful One-on-Ones

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To achieve enduring success, sales reps often need more than motivation and support from their managers. Constructive feedback and actionable insights for improvement can help take reps to higher levels of performance. One-on-one meetings between managers and reps are an opportunity to have a dedicated and consistent time to help grow careers, achieve professional development goals, and drive consistent performance.

Plus, when it comes to retaining top talent, having an effective manager can be a core reason why reps stay with an organization long-term. According to a recent study, more than half of workers have left a job due to their manager and 70% of employee engagement comes directly from excellent leadership.

The one-on-one meeting can help sales reps get their manager’s undivided attention and help signal to managers that their team is engaged in their work and feeling motivated day-to-day. Especially in an environment with remote teams, one-on-one meetings are excellent for gauging what reps need in a dedicated space, reducing the pressure some reps can feel when asked to voice their concerns in informal check-ins or broader team huddles.

“As a manager, we should find as many opportunities as we can to coach and develop our people,” said Dave Brock, author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide.”

Below, explore the ways managers can lead productive and effective one-on-one meetings with reps to help motivate, engage, and spur action that will impact the entire sales organization and create even more meaningful relationships with teams.

Start With the Big Picture

An efficient way to kick off a one-on-one meeting is to highlight the wins or key performance indicators (KPIs) that the rep has been achieving. Things like closed deals, open pipeline, new pipeline, recent activity with a lead, and more can help establish a baseline for evaluating performance objectively and ensuring that data is front and center for both the manager and rep to refer back to.

Starting with data can also provide clarity and context around why certain activities are succeeding, offering managers a window into how their rep is using their time and what they’re excelling at already.

To help launch the conversation, consider having managers ask the below prompts:

  • What is one thing to start doing?
  • What is one thing to stop doing?
  • What is one thing to keep doing?

Assess Areas for Improvement

With data in hand, managers and reps can then dive into the topics or areas where there may need to be an improvement. This is where coaching really comes into play, as managers can hear their rep’s perspective first-hand and help guide them more effectively. Managers may want to lead with more open-ended questions to help gauge certain roadblocks or insights they may not be as dialed into in the day-to-day roles of their reps.

“If [managers] learn the language of coaching and have a framework that they can follow, this is the mind shift that every leader needs to make, which is leading with questions in every conversation rather than leading with answers,” said Keith Rosen, author of “Sales Leadership.”.

Enablement leaders can even help managers take a more data-driven approach to coach through areas of improvement by setting up tools and processes that track all of the KPIs reps are aware of to bring into the conversation.

“What sales enablement can do is provide the tools and make sure the managers are using the tools that facilitate the coaching,” said Brock. “For instance, if I’m doing a deal review and we bring up the deal in the CRM system, we use that as the basis for a coaching discussion.”

Align on Key Strategies Through Active Listening

Sometimes it’s most effective to zoom out to come up with creative solutions to drive better results. One of the best ways to do this is for managers to take time to listen to reps as they provide feedback on what is working, what may not be working, and how it stacks up to overall professional development and growth.

Taking the time to understand each other’s perspectives enables each person to learn from the other. By problem-solving together, managers and reps can wade through several real-world scenarios to troubleshoot challenges and discuss an optimal solution forward.

“Work on building and establishing those relationships and use them to help spread the news, spread the wealth, and to give you real practical feedback on everything that you do,” said Jill Guardia, executive director of sales enablement at TriNet. “Don’t just do it as a one-off, do it continuously, and you’ll find that people will voluntarily give you the feedback that you desire and that you need to do better with what you are doing.”

Outline Next Steps and Take Action

The difference between average and great sales professionals often lies in commitment and accountability. By documenting expectations and taking the time to work out completion dates and project goals, managers and reps alike can leave the one-on-one meeting feeling more energized and focused on what’s to come in the near future.

Approaching the next steps as a collaborative process garners trust between a manager and their reps. Great managers can help bring clarity to each and every scenario and provide critical feedback and guidance without being too in the weeds on a minute-by-minute basis.

“Having those great relationships and understanding what makes people excited about talking about those things and getting those deliverables in place helps me not only win in my role and achieve success for the company, but it also helps other people shine as well, and it puts them in a position to demonstrate what they love about what they do,” said Chad Dyar, director of training and enablement at Vendr.

Every organization’s sales culture is different, but every sales force is evaluated on performance. To encourage even greater performance from each individual, sales managers can customize the one-on-one meeting to connect personally with their reps, meet their unique needs, and help them reach their goals. By holding effective and meaningful conversations in one-on-one meetings, managers and reps can set a clear path forward for professional development and higher performance results.

Below, download our template for a one-on-one meeting to help managers kickstart their impact.

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