I was consulting in a SaaS company when a new head of product sales came onboard. One day, she told me she couldn’t manage her calendar anymore. She had a very large team, and there was nothing in place for her to be able to collectively bring the team together to see how they were moving in the sales pipeline.
Her calendar was filled with one-on-ones discussing day-to-day activities as well as team status. The first order of business was to separate these two conversations.
I see this problem a lot. Sales leaders are drowning in one-on-ones; particularly those in teams of 8 plus. Think about it, if the catch-ups are every fortnight at an hour that’s easily eight hours in just two weeks! That’s a lot of time in an industry where things need to be continually moving.
The feedback I get is these meetings are often not about anything tangible. Its discussions around the status of the account, where there are challenges. But nothing practical is being set out to move things forward.
Are you finding yourself discussing account planning, how they are scheduling their time, how they are creating heatmaps or even shortlisted accounts they want to approach or present? These are work-related items around what is in their pipeline and should really occur at group planning sessions.
One-on-ones should be used to discuss where your team members want to go next, their personal and professional development. If you have previously provided them with feedback and actions, these should be discussed in your one-on-ones.
These meetings are also an opportunity for you, as a leader, to discuss your blocks or challenges. You might have specific things you want to ask your team member; this is the meeting to do it. You can also see these as mentoring opportunities to get more value out of the sessions.
Pro-tip: Keep these meetings short, rather than long. If you are currently doing your sprint planning, stand-ups and check-ins, you do not need to have these detailed conversations in your one-on-ones.
If you’re interested in transformation and looking for best practices to gradually change your ways of working, and the culture of your sales team, I have created a course which is a simplified version of what top-tier consulting firms are presenting to their clients. Explore the program here 60-min exec course.
Here’s how to separate it; discussions in the group are about ‘IT’.. deals, products, what you’re delivering, pipeline specifics. Anything in a one-on-one is about the individual, business relationships, ‘US’.
If you know a sales leader struggling with having meaningful one-on-one conversations, please share this video with them. I have seen the impact of this technique; it could easily free up four to five hours per week, give it a go!
If you are a sales director with multiple managers, try sharing this video with them, so you are guiding them without telling them what to do.
We learn best when we receive something from those we know. It is much more useful than going to a course, reading a book or sitting in front of an instructor telling us what to do. The more we learn together, the more we grow together.