Holding an effective sales manager–sales rep 1:1

Out of all the elements that can improve sales force effectiveness, one of the most powerful is the relationship between the sales manager and salesperson. Among the greatest influences on that relationship is the 1:1 held between the manager and rep. Optimizing this conversation over time can certainly help boost sales results.

Cadence for meetings between sales manager and
sales rep

Meeting cadence can definitely be determined by the amount and volume of sales activity. If you’re unsure of where to begin, a weekly cadence can serve as a good starting point. To demonstrate the importance of the 1:1, the meeting should be pre-set each week and only cancelled or rescheduled if there is a conflicting client commitment.

Sales manager preparation

The first aspect of the conversation to optimize is sales manager preparation, which is critical for a successful 1:1.

Follow these three key steps:

  1. Review activity and account: Look at the salesperson’s sales dashboards from the CRM, such as Salesforce. This dashboard can be examined directly via the system itself or prepared by someone in the sales operations group. From these dashboards, primarily focus on:
  • Key metrics over the past week, such as number of calls made
  • Deal movement—understand which deals are moving and which deals appear to be “stuck.” Focusing on deals in this manner is critical to keeping deals moving to either “close won” or “close lost” to ensure sales time is constantly optimized.
  1. Reflect on prior lessons learned: What learnings have developed from other manager–rep 1:1s that can be shared to benefit the rep?
  2. Track key initiatives: What key initiatives outside the pipeline review do you need to talk about, such as preparation for entering a new vertical?

Salesperson preparation

Sales rep preparation is equally critical to and is almost a mirror image of manager preparation.

  1. Review account: Look at the sales dashboards from the CRM, such as Salesforce. This dashboard can be examined directly via the system itself or prepared by someone in the sales operations group and sent to the rep. From these dashboards, focus on:
  • Assessing key metrics, with a solid understanding of the numbers. For example, if the number of outbound calls was down because of existing client commitments, it’s important to have the “why” behind the numbers and data.
  • Growth flywheel movement: Prepare to discuss the lessons learned from deals that have moved quickly, and create a list of deals that are stuck so you can talk these through with the manager.
  1. Track key initiatives: Prepare an update on key initiatives outside the account review itself.

Meeting agenda

The following outlines a number of best practices for constructing the meeting. These are foundational elements—customize these for your business. This overview assumes quality rep performance and effort. If a salesperson is regularly underperforming and stricter measures need to be enforced, the situation requires a different conversation and agenda than outlined below. Finally, the responsibility of making the meeting successful falls equally on both the rep and the manager.

  • Meeting length: Meetings should be no less than 30 minutes and generally no longer than 60 minutes (assuming proper preparation).
  • Goals: Any easy way to remember goals for the meeting can be outlined in the three Cs—context, communication and coaching (in that order).
      1. Context: Review the metrics and growth flywheel to understand how the rep is performing and whether they are on track to achieve their sales objectives relative to the assigned quota. From this review, adjustments can be made to ensure the highest probability of hitting the sales objective. Without this form of regular review, the opportunity to optimize over time is lost, making the goal that much more challenging.
      2. Communication: This is the transparent and open dialogue of the context described above, such as what conversations the manager or rep has had that would be helpful to share. For example, a rep could indicate, “The last three prospects I have spoken with love the product and are comfortable with the price, but they are concerned about the implementation timeline.” This is helpful feedback the manager can take back to the head of services to understand if there is an adjusted approach that could shorten the implementation timeline.
      3. Coaching: Coaching is probably the most critical aspect of the conversation. There should always be an environment in which the sales rep can openly receive counsel and support from the manager. For example, if a couple of large deals are stuck, the manager should be offering advice to help the salesperson move the deals forward (again, assuming the rep is already putting forth their best effort).

As outlined earlier, the importance of the manager–rep 1:1 cannot be understated. It’s a key mechanism to positively influence sales results over time. The effort required to prepare and the dedication to holding regular meetings will most certainly pay off.

Further resources