One of the advantages of my role at Salesforce is the opportunity to solicit regular feedback from our account executives. A common theme is that AEs want a better relationship with their managers. Core to this is regular 1-to-1 meetings. This is valuable time that can be used to get to know your team members, understand their individual strength and weaknesses, and give them guidance on how to advance their careers.
Here are my top 12 recommendations on how to run 1-to-1 meetings that build trust and drive AEs to achieve their full potential. The recommendations are presented in three tiers: basic, intermediate, and advanced. See where you are at and move up to achieve more.
Level 1: The Bare Minimum 1-to-1
These steps are the basics for holding 1-to-1 meetings.
Do this: Schedule meetings at the same time (weekly, biweekly, monthly, and so on) depending on how often you deem necessary.
Why: One, it’s easier to manage your time (see my four tips for time management article), and, two, this creates routine and provides consistency for expectations and follow-through.
Do this: Set your meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays. (If you have more than seven direct reports, meet on Wednesdays, too, if needed.).
Why: This sets you up for a productive week:
- Your employee can think through obstacles in advance of the week
- Your manager gets a report on what your team is working on
- You can take the time needed to be thoughtful and present for each session
Do this: Block 60 minutes on your calendar for a 45-minute 1-to-1.
Why: Give yourself 15 minutes after the meeting to reflect on the interaction, and to document the next steps your employees need to take to reach their goals and address any upcoming challenges.
Do this: Never cancel. Just move and reschedule your 1-to-1 when conflicts arise.
Why: Consistency builds trust. Show how important the meetings are. Find the right balance of prioritizing customer meetings and employee 1-to-1s.
Do this: Be present in the meeting. Put your phone away, take notes if you want, but only use your laptop if truly needed or if entering information into your customer relationship management (CRM) system. Err on the side of direct eye-to-eye contact. Give your employee the gift of focused attention and deep listening.
Why: Presence builds trust. You don’t realize how much an employee appreciates your presence until someone bestows the same level of attentiveness on you.
Do this: Come prepared with your questions.
- What’s working?
- Where are you getting stuck?
- What might you do differently?
- How are you doing?
- What is one thing I can help you with this week to support your growth?
Why: Preparation shows you care.
Level 2: The Intermediate 1-to-1
Follow these steps to take your meetings up a notch.
Do this: Postpone if the employee regularly comes unprepared. Set an expectation for how the meeting should run and make it happen.
Why: The meetings are too important to take lightly. Use the GROW model to show your employees how to be prepared.
Do this: Have employees send you an agenda for their 1-to-1 meeting in writing 24-48 hours ahead of time.
Why: It helps them think through the value they want to get out of the meeting and allows you to prepare.
Level 3: The Master 1-to-1
Follow these steps to conduct 1-to-1 meetings that are the envy of the industry.
Do this: Eliminate any misunderstanding: Put the next steps in writing.
Why: The difference between average and great sales professionals is commitment, mindset, and accountability.
- Documenting your expectations is crucial to accountability
- I cannot overstate: Having employees agree to something in writing is important. Like a good project plan or a signed contract by a customer, it represents their bond, their word.
Do this: Start by taking the 15-min gap at the end of every 1-to-1 meeting to document the next steps you’d like to see, with a completion date. Send this to your sales rep before you walk out of the room.
Why: This documentation time helps to bring clarity to what you are asking for.
Do this: Teach your employees how to write a summary and have them send it back to you.
Why: This teaches them accountability and next-level business maturity. Having them come up with their own next actions also helps you scale as a leader.
Do this: Take the Strengthsfinder Survey to identify your strengths. Then have each of your salespeople complete the survey and bring their results to your 1-to-1 conversations.
Why: Teaching people about themselves drives engagement, builds trust, and sets the foundation for both of you to grow.
“The difference between average and great sales professionals is commitment, mindset, and accountability.”
COLIN NANKA | SENIOR DIRECTOR, ENABLEMENT FOR COMMERCIAL SALES, SALESFORCE
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