How Sales Managers Can Maximize 1-on-1s

As a sales manager, a big component of your job is making sure that your team of sales reps are consistently putting forth their best effort and hitting their sales goals. Coaching and having regular one-on-one meetings with individual reps can go a long way toward helping reps meet these goals. However, many sales teams end up having one-on-ones that devolve into sales pipeline interrogations, where reps are forced to awkwardly explain what went wrong last week.

Instead, one-on-ones should be constructive conversations, with data-driven insights and specific coaching points. When one-on-one meetings are not done right, reps end up scrambling and trying to find answers to please their managers or justify their own poor performances. Meanwhile, managers lament the fact that reps are not honest with themselves about the likelihood that their opportunities will close.

Here are three tips for how both managers and reps can get more out of their one-on-one meetings.

1. Focus on stalled opportunities

If a rep is not actively working on an opportunity, it will not progress steadily down the pipeline. If an opportunity has not had an activity logged for it in some time, there’s a great chance that it is not being worked on efficiently and is likely to slip through the cracks as a lost opportunity. To prevent this from happening, go over reports of open opportunities in the pipeline to compare the effort and momentum of each opportunity.

Doing so will help reps prioritize their efforts on the right opportunities. Highlight opportunities that are in danger of entering negative velocity, due to little effort on the part of the rep. Coming into one-on-one meetings with no stalled opportunities would be a tremendous improvement on both the meeting and the overall performance of the rep.

2. Explain any close date changes 

Managers often deal with reps who push the close date of an opportunity out several times. While some deals naturally take longer to close than they were initially projected to, managers have to be wary when this happens consistently, prompting them to ask themselves if reps are really being honest about their opportunities.

Have your reps bring to the one-on-one meeting a report of all opportunities that have had their close dates pushed further back. This will help make them more accountable about keeping accurate close dates. Additionally, managers can take the opportunity to coach reps on not pushing opportunities back unless they truly have a valid reason for doing so.

3. Study the sales cycle by won/lost deals

The longer it takes to close a deal, the less likely it is to happen. It is imperative that every rep understand not just their sales cycles, but more specifically their sales cycle by individual stages. Reps should know how long each opportunity – both winning and losing ones – typically spends in each stage of the sales cycle.

For example, a rep might typically see his or her winning opportunities spend no more than 7 days in the trial stage. If an opportunity that they are currently working on has been in the trial stage for more than a month, the unfortunate reality is that opportunity is not likely to close, despite the most optimistic protestations from your rep. Managers can then ask probing questions about what the rep is doing in each individual stage, gaining insights that could lead to a shift in their sales process and an overall improvement in their performance.

Turning to sales analytics will make your reps more data-driven and allow both you and your sales team to get more out of one-on-one meetings. With data and analytical support, reps can take greater ownership of their opportunities. Meanwhile, managers can turn to those analytical sales reports to drive coaching sessions, while keeping their reps motivated, goal-oriented and focused.

How have you used sales analytics to maximize your one-on-one meetings with your reps?