How to make 1:1s effective?

I’ve been in management for a year now and I know there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to my weekly 1:1s with my reps. If you think weekly is too often, this is set by our CRO so I have no option to change it. What have you fellow sales managers/directors/VPs done to make your 1:1s effective?

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WR Officer
Retired King of the Coors Knights
I am not a manager, so this is coming from the rep perspective:

Have an agenda set before. This can be as simple as:
- Forecast (if you do these in 1:1s)
- Manager feedback
- Rep feedback

Most important part in my opinion, is to allow the reps to set the talk track for a portion. is there anything they need help with? Any feedback they have?

Too often I get into a 1:1, my manager nit picks everything I do, and then we close. I did not get a chance to talk about the things I actually may need help on, or need escalated internally.

Be transparent and open as well. I can tell when my AD is spewing BS to tell me what I want to hear, that helps no one. Process change coming? Tell me. Something I need to improve? Tell me. Honesty breeds trust.

Weekly is fine as long as they are productive - no issue cutting them short if neither side has anything major to discuss. 
Sales Training & Enablement
I agree with a lot of what's said above. I think you can also work on a recurring schedule thematically with a rep. 

For example:

Week 1: Business Plan (SMART Goals, Monthly Plan)
Week 2: Sales Skills Review (Call Review)
Week 3: Forecast/Pipeline Review (Coaching / Commits)
Week 4: Skill Focus (Role-plays, Methodology Focus)

Agenda-wise, I've found that it's also valuable to map out what a 1x1 should look like between a manager and a rep: how should it start, what needs to be presented, when do you analyze and diagnose issues, and what's the action plan going forward. 

- Overall, try to understand the whole picture and review all information ahead of time (situation, rep, deal). 

- Look at other factors and have empathy before jumping to conclusions that may influence negative behavior or morale.

- Focus on what you're able to control (rather than stressing on factors that you can't control, think about what matters, and where you can make the most impact).

I'm a big fine of the REKS Framework shown here from Winning by Design:

Hope this helps.
Mid Market AE
love this aspect as well, we don't need to talk about the same thing every week, some stuff is only going to have monthly updates. 

I find also having it broken up between business goals and personal goals and truly working to helping them achieve both not just business. 

Sales Manager
Thanks for the outline. I’ll definitely be implementing this. 
Sales Manager
Awesome advice. Thank you!! I learned from my old manager pissing me off to not nit pick about dumb things. 😂 My follow up to the points you made is how can I encourage rep feedback more? I feel like my reps and I trust each other and have a great relationship, but they haven’t given me much feedback when I ask. 
Sales Training & Enablement
@jakemac It may take some time to establish trust with a team in order for them to feel comfortable. I think it's good that you've been in a place where you know what not to do or what might have rubbed you the wrong way as a rep.

My suggestion on how to build more of a feedback culture that aligns with your reps falls into a few categories...the first of which, would be building trust (you sound like you've done this to some extent). However, I don't think there's a time where it's too late for you to go back and establish what you expect in terms of adequate assessment, just as they expect to get adequate and constructive feedback from you to elicit positive performance.

Secondly, and where I think you could probably get them to give you more specific feedback is to align it to the outcomes that you're trying to establish. For example, if you're working on deal coaching with a rep, think about how you can get them to verbalize areas for improvement and ask questions around: what they thought went well and where they felt they could improve. Afterwards, once they've verbalized this information, it acts as a way for them to take ownership and accountability. In doing so, they should become more effective sellers when they talk to their buyers.

Some other ideas that you might think about are giving the reps a short assessment to get insights into how they want feedback to give them maximum impact and having them run the meeting after you've given the constructive feedback. There's so many ways to do this now with technology. I've used Qualtrics, zoom polls, templates...all can be effective.

Sometimes, they may need to digest either the verbal and written feedback that you give in order to respond effectively instead of in the moment. I think it would be good for you to set some guidelines (on an regular feedback cadence), even if it's a few questions that they fill out or bring to the meeting like (this could even be a follow-up meeting):

- What was your initial impression of my feedback?
- How have you been able to apply the feedback already (be specific)?
- What new skill, product, or process do you need to learn more about?
- From the feedback you received today, what key take-aways will you use in your next 30, 60, 90 days in the role?
- What about the feedback was unclear or do you need more information?

Hope this helps.
WR Officer
Master of Disaster
Commenting because I want to follow this thread to give feedback to my manager for our next 1:1.

so far, they have given me zero value and I walk away pissed off, frustrated and with zero motivation or direction as to which way to go so the next 1:1 isn’t a shitshow. 

he basically pulls up his little chart of my pipeline and drills me about who they are, the status of each and what I’ve done to move them along. “We need these closed”

well, duh, fuckface. I love getting brushed off and not closing!!!! 
Sales Manager
Let us know how he takes the feedback! Too many managers aren’t very humble/coachable. 
Big Shot
Account Executive
Everyone has pretty much nailed everything here. I'd definitely say leave time to talk about deals and how you can help them with any roadblocks and then ask for feedback. I'm sure the rep won't give it right away but if you start to ask this question and start to foster a safe space, reps will start to give feedback.
WR Officer
Director of Business Development
Bring a 6 shot revolver and place it on the table. When your rep sits down, tell him that you're going to play a little game of Russian roulette and that there are 3 bullets in the gun. Once your rep starts frantically sweating, you can tell him it was a joke. You now have captured their undivided attention.

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