Many managers are surprised to hear us suggest that it’s important to meet one-on-one with every salesperson on staff at least every other week. Some even say it’s impossible! But it’s not. If you keep the meetings brief ... if you think of these interactions as check-ins rather than as opportunities to “fix” people … and if you carefully plan these meetings along the lines outlined below, you will find that they not only fit easily into your schedule, but that they also save time you would otherwise have spent putting out fires.
Here, then, are five important things for you to cover during your regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings. By the way, if you cover these points regularly and predictably, and make a habit of sending along your agenda well ahead of time, you can establish a predictable ongoing cadence with each salesperson. The nice thing about such a cadence is that it allows you both to use your (limited) time efficiently, without either of you having to “wait for the download.”
1. SET YOUR UP-FRONT CONTRACT. Get agreement on the purpose of the discussion, the time allotted (we recommend ten to fifteen minutes), and the specific issues or questions that each person wants to address. You will probably also want to confirm that there will be no interruptions. (Important side note: The sales rep should be setting exactly the same kind of contract with his or her prospects, so be sure you effectively model the Up-Front Contract best practice here!)
2. LOOK AT WHAT’S WORKING. Always start with positive reinforcement. Briefly focus on something positive the rep did since your last meeting offer authentic, heartfelt praise. Don’t offer fake praise! That will undermine the bonding and rapport necessary for a good check-in meeting. Many managers look at one-on-one meetings as an excuse to closely evaluate mistakes the salesperson made. That’s a meeting no salesperson looks forward to. By focusing on something the salesperson did well, you ensure that that behavior will be repeated!
3. DISCUSS THE LAST MEETING’S ACTION ITEMS … AND PREVIEW ITEMS FOR THIS WEEK. Follow through and check in on the status of any specific commitments the rep made to you during your last meeting. Identify any to-do items you want to be sure the rep accomplishes before your next meeting.
4. TALK ABOUT THE COOKBOOK. Your salesperson should have a clear behavioral plan outlining specific, measurable business development activities that he or she is accountable for performing on a daily and weekly basis. Think of this as a cookbook – a recipe for success. (For more on the cookbook concept, see this video.) Examine the performance numbers together. Discuss their implications for the salesperson’s, and the team’s, income when the measured behaviors are extrapolated over the month, quarter, and year.
5. GET A CLEAR VERBAL COMMITMENT. Near the end of this brief meeting, you will probably have identified one or two particularly important things that you definitely want to see some action on before the two of you get together again. In the moments before you wrap up, set expectations by asking for a clear verbal commitment that the salesperson will take action in these one or two critical areas. Hearing the salesperson speak the actual words is important. When people commit to something verbally, they are far more likely to get it done!
Cover these five key areas in each and every one of your check-in meetings, and you’ll keep your team on track!