Why Should I Perform a Monthly 1:1 with My Salespeople?
Not everyone is cut out to be a good coach. Even some of the best sales managers fall short when trying to bring out the best in their team members. It takes a lot of practice to develop coaching skills, not to mention a level of passion and drive that isn’t always found in everyone. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain tricks that can’t help you creating a coaching environment. One of my favorites is individual monthly one on one (1:1) discussions with the sales people.
It is truly one of my favorite and most effective coaching activities when it is done right. What is a Monthly 1:1? Although the name should give it all away, it is subject to interpretation. To be clear, a Monthly 1:1 is a time that you dedicate to your salesperson to talk about what’s important to you and what is important to them. It is a review of the pipeline, clients, sales numbers and opportunities. It is your chance to catch system defects before it is too late so that you can course correct to success.
How to Run An Effective Monthly 1:1 Meeting with Your Salespeople
The key to an effective Monthly 1:1 is 75% structure and 25% execution. Why that ratio? Because if you structure the 1:1 properly, it should all but execute itself. If it is not structured properly, what you wind up with is an adversarial complaining session where nothing is accomplished, true issues are left unaddressed and discussions go nowhere. No one, of course, would desire this but sadly, this seems to be the trap that most sales managers fall into… if they are even doing this activity at all.
There are different ideas, as you would expect, as to what the best structure is for a Monthly 1:1, but I can only share what has worked best for me through the years. IMPORTANT!!! You should share your agenda with team members so they can come prepared to every 1:1. You will soon find an established rhythm to creates productivity and results.
New Opportunities (5 minutes). What are the opportunities that you have been working on in the last month that we have not discussed in the previous month? Fairly self-explanatory. You can allow for one or two stories, but all I want are the facts. I want names, ideas and activities. If I feel there is something that needs an explanation, I will ask for clarity. This helps to set the tempo for salespeople to keep their pipelines fresh.
Existing Opportunities (5 minutes). How have the opportunities that we discussed last month progressed since our last 1:1? I pull up last month’s ‘New Opportunities’ list and see how things are going. I don’t expect everything to be a hit. Sometimes opportunities die on the vine. This is a great way to discover how your salespeople are handling their challenges. This is also where your coaching moments start to unfold. There should be at least one or two items that the salesperson is stuck on. Dig deeper, understand the issues and help to work on a solution together. Your salesperson will appreciate the opportunity to verbalize their issues and since we are doing this on a monthly basis, nothing should get too out of hand.
What is working? (5 minutes). Straightforward. What part of the strategy, training, coaching, process, etc. is helping them to move the ball move forward? What should we be doing more of? What should we expand on? What best practices are we establishing? What DNA is being created that can be shared with the rest of the team. This is a great chance for your salesperson to boast and let them do so. Also, pay attention to the trends you hear amongst all your salespeople.
What is not working? (5 minutes) This is where you need to be ready to receive honest feedback on your coaching, strategies and directives. You may discover a weakness in your plan. You may also discover an honest weakness in your salesperson. This, again, is your opportunity to catch a defect in the process and course correct. It may mean discontinuing a campaign that has turned into a dud. You may find that the salesperson was not up for the challenge. Either way, look again for trends amongst the team and use it as a coaching opportunity or a chance to tweak your processes and strategies.
KPIs (5 minutes). This is where we look at the numbers. Is the pipeline sufficient? Have there been ample levels of sales activities? Are we reaching our sales goals monthly, quarterly, annually? If the numbers are on target, then offer encouragement. However, if things have gone off course, and if we are doing this monthly, things can’t be that far off course, then we can course correct before it is too late. Remember, course correction is 80% process and 20% people.
Other discussion (5 minutes) What other burning issues out there that need attention? This is the salesperson’s chance to get the rest of the clutter out of their head and feel like they have been heard. You may have to brace yourself for coworker drama occasionally, but you may also hear a great idea for a new campaign being pitched. No judgement; just take a moment to listen to what they have to say.
Monthly 1:1 – What Does This Yield for My Sales Team?
So, you spent 30 minutes in a meaningful and pointed discussion. The time commitment is very important. Salespeople like to go down rabbit trails, so make sure you keep them focused with the aid of the agenda. It is also very important to log these discussions for reference and recallability. My preferred method is in a shared spreadsheet such as Google Sheets so that the salesperson can review it anytime and prepare for each Monthly 1:1.
I am confident in telling you that the result will be a more focused and consistent team, and that is the kind of team that gets you the results that you want. You will also find increased levels of trust and respect with your team. The concept is simple. It is just another process, but anybody can do it, and, with enough practice, you can get really good at it in a matter of time. Simple and effective solution.