I learned how important weekly 1-on-1s could be early in my career from one of my first mentors. He dedicated 1 hour every Friday afternoon to meet with me. During these meetings we discussed sales opportunities, challenges and areas where I needed his help.
I learned so much from him in these 1-on-1s that I still recall them fondly today, almost 20 years later.
It was in these 1-on-1s that I was also taught how to be a problem solver instead of a whiner.
I was complaining about how our Telecom Manager was delaying my installs because of his laissez faire attitude, which he expressed eloquently to me as, “Just relax Steve, the Telco will get installed eventually and the customer just has to wait until we get around to it.”
After allowing me to whine about this for 5 minutes, my manager put his hand up and said
“Stop. From this point forward you can NEVER come discuss a problem with me again unless you bring ideas for how to solve it. We are in Sales, our job is to make things happen.“
The Inside Sales Dude Way
Since then, having done years of Weekly 1-on-1s with 100s of Reps, I’ve copied what he taught me while refining my process.
When working with a new Rep, my 1-on-1s will take up to an hour. But once we’ve established a cadence it will drop to 30 minutes.
Sometimes, we’ll just touch base for 5 minutes or cover 1 Big Rock if we’re in crunch mode or have an urgent issue we’re working on. The fastest ones go like this:
“You good?” Yep. “Need anything from me?” Nope. “Ok, let’s connect next week.”
This happens most often in the last week of the quarter.
But , for most 1-on-1s, we following this process:
Step 1 – Review the stats
During the 1:1 we’ll start by reviewing the Rep’s progress against Meaningful Sales Metrics. We’ll use our CRM dashboards for this. There is no need to have the Rep duplicate this info on a Weekly Report since it is readily available in the CRM. Everyone appreciates not doing unnecessary data entry. (You’d be surprised how many Managers make reps enter data on a weekly report that is readily accessible on a dashboard. Don’t do this!)
Here’s what we discuss from the dashboards:
Quota – Revenue attained at this time in the quarter (or month depending on your sales cycle).
Pipeline GAP – GAP coverage multiplied by a factor to ensure it’s sufficient to hit quota.
Pipeline Next Quarter or Month – Pipeline Coverage for the current GAP and the quota for the next QTR or Month.
Activity – Calls made, demos booked, emails sent, prospecting activity, leads, etc.
When reviewing these metrics, it is the ideal time to reinforce Perfect Forecasting.
Step 2 – Discuss the Report Topics
To make 1-on- most effective, I have the Rep complete a Weekly Report and send it to me prior to the 1-on-1. I recommend my Rep does his weekly report at the end of every week. (See My post on How Sales Managers Should Wrap Up the Week for more on this.)
Here are the questions I recommend for the Weekly Report.
- List your 3 Big Rocks for the upcoming week.
- How did you did with last week’s 3 Big Rocks?
- What’s going well? Any wins?
- What are your top 2 challenges and what solution do you recommend?
- What can the business do to make you more successful?
- How are you feeling (1-10) and why? How is morale around you?
- Where do you need my help?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you this week? (In or out of work)
- List 1 idea to improve the company.
- Who deserves recognition this week and why? (Always ask this and be sure to let the person being called out know about it.)
This is a guided discussion. Note that only 2 of the 10 questions deal with problems, #4 and #7. That is intentional.
Step 3 – Wrap it Up
I keep an eye on the time, because I love talking to my Reps and can easily get caught up in storytelling. My reps, being polite, will let me drone on and on while they have more important work to get done.
So instead, when we have a few minutes left, I’ll review any key action items we agreed on for the upcoming week and then I’ll ask,
“Is there anything else you want to discuss or anything else you need from me?”
99% of the time, we’ve covered everything but this gives my Rep a chance to bring up whatever we might have missed. Usually it’s something like a request for PTO or some other personal item.
The Exception – When One Big Rock blows it all out of the water
There are times when my Rep needs something different. Perhaps he’s got a pressing personal issue, business issue or something else he cannot get past. When I recognize this, I’ll put aside the entire agenda and we’ll deal with only that issue.
Here are some examples:
- We just moved our offices to a new location. That monday morning, we learned our new TELCO lines could only handle 20 simultaneous calls. Since we had 50 reps making outbound calls, we had to scramble for an immediate solution.
- My rep’s adult son was arrested. After months of family stress, my Rep was considering throwing his son out of his house. The rep had missed his number that month and was concerned he’d be put on a PIP. Well, that wasn’t going to happen on my watch. Obviously we didn’t discuss numbers that day. (BTW, the rep returned to his stellar performance the next month, his family situation stabilized and years later we still stay in touch.)
- My rep felt like another rep was sexually harassing her. How should you handle this? See this post for my thoughts.
Wrapping it Up
For me, the 1-on-1 gives me a pulse on the business, deepens my connection to my reps and has given me many of my fondest memories.
Don’t shortchange yourself or your reps by missing out on these.