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How to Conduct Highly Productive One-On-One Sales Meetings

Sales Management

How sales managers communicate and interact with their teams is crucial to building a winning culture, and keeping the sales team motivated. This is especially important as we work through the Covid-19 pandemic since teams are facing numerous personal and professional challenges. These challenges include working remotely, stalled opportunities, and learning to sell virtually.

In a prior blog post, I shared how sales managers can lead highly effective weekly team sales meetings. The weekly team meeting should focus on team goals and accomplishments and is an excellent forum to recognize wins, discuss new opportunities, review priorities, and promote skills development. It also fosters peer to peer communication and learning.

The purpose of the weekly one-on-one meeting is to discuss individual performance, recognize accomplishments, thoroughly review the sales pipeline, and discuss actions the manager and sales rep can take to advance sales opportunities. It is also an excellent opportunity to build relationships with reps and understand any personal or professional issues that are getting in the way of performance.

Since these meetings are recurring, it is essential to create a standard agenda that addresses these goals. The agenda provides a level of predictability that allows the sales manager and the sales reps to prepare for the weekly meetings. It is also important that the meetings are used for the intended purpose and do not veer off course or get preempted by other activities.

Listed below is a sample agenda for a 1-hour weekly one-on-one meeting along with a brief description for each suggested topic:

1 | Check-In (5 minutes)

You should start the one-on-one meeting with a quick check-in to see how your sales rep is doing, personally and professionally. The purpose of the check-in is to develop rapport and create a personal connection. While your meeting is business-related, there is a human element that is important to build trust and receptivity to your input. This may also help to highlight any issues that could be affecting the sales rep's attitude or motivation.

2 | Review highlights from last week (10 minutes):

Ask your sales rep to provide a review of their highlights from last week. This includes meetings conducted, new opportunities, proposals submitted, and, of course, any new wins. As the manager, you should listen, ask questions, and provide positive reinforcement.

3 | Review priorities for this week (10 minutes):

Ask your sales rep to review top priorities for the next week, including upcoming meetings, presentations, and proposals. As the manager, you should listen, ask questions, and assess whether you can or should be assisting with any of the upcoming priorities.

4 | Review the sales pipeline (25 minutes):

The pipeline review should be led by the sales rep and focus on opportunities within each stage, beginning with the most advanced stage (i.e., closest to closing). It is especially important to ask your sales rep to focus on their top opportunities, the associated sales strategies, and the next steps. Areas to investigate as you discuss strategy and next steps with your sales rep include having them clearly share the customer's business need, how your solution addresses the need, access to key decision-makers, competitive positioning, and win themes.

5 | Sales Performance (10 minutes):

As a starting point, have the sales rep share their sales results and where they stand relative to their monthly or quarterly sales goal. You should then ask them to assess, based on what they have achieved so far and the opportunities in their pipeline, where they expect to finish relative to their sales goal. It is crucial to keep in mind that some sales reps are overly optimistic about their projections, so the sales manager should try to validate whether the projections are realistic based on the dollar amounts and timing of pipeline opportunities.

Assuming the sales rep is expected to finish at or above plan, you should offer encouragement and determine how you could assist with any of the opportunities that are currently in the pipeline. If you have reason to doubt their ability to achieve their sales goals, you should help them focus on sales activities that will improve their probability of achieving their sales goals.

Keep in mind that the weekly one-on-one meeting provides an opportunity to build stronger relationships, celebrate wins, address challenges, and advance sales opportunities. If there are ongoing performance issues, the sales manager should schedule a separate meeting to review and discuss performance expectations.

Conducting productive one-on-one meetings is one of the best ways to keep each your sales team motivated and on track. As such, sales managers should avoid the temptation to reschedule or skip these meetings. Instead, sales managers should focus on keeping the weekly meeting collaborative by having your sales rep lead the discussion and providing input that can help improve sales productivity and win rates.

Learn how to transition star sales reps into high-performing sales managers

About Norman Behar

Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.