The Sales Manager’s Guide to Better One-on-Ones

In today’s sales environment, the role of the B2B sales manager has become more complex than ever before.

From generating leads to forecasting to reporting— the modern sales manager is expected to juggle a variety of responsibilities that play a significant role in the success of an organization. Simply put, sales managers are the conductors of an organization’s revenue engine.

However, with such a heavy focus on big-picture items like hitting sales targets and growing revenue, it’s not uncommon for smaller – yet equally crucial – responsibilities, to fall to the wayside. The reason for this is simple: With the constant pressure to hit quota, it’s hard to justify any activity that doesn’t directly contribute to the bottom line.

While quota attainment should undoubtedly remain a top priority, it’s important managers remember that sales success is not a one-man-show, but rather, a team effort. And as manager, it’s your duty to coach your team towards a win.

In order to hit quota and grow revenue, managers must ensure reps have the tools, training, and support they need to put their best foot forward and hit their goals. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to ensure a positive, growth-oriented relationship with each member of your team—one-on-ones.

The Power of Sales One-on-Ones

If you’ve worked in a professional environment at any capacity, you’re likely familiar with the concept of one-on-ones. But, just in case here’s a quick refresher. A sales one-on-one can be defined as a quick meeting in which a sales manager meets with their direct reports on a regular basis, to check in on their performance, growth, well-being, etc.

When executed effectively, sales one-on-ones can become a manager’s most powerful tool for coaching, developing, preventing burnout, and leading their teams to peak performance. They are a proven means for building rapport, deepening commitment, refining skills, improving productivity, and even turning your lowest performing salesperson into a selling machine for increased revenue!

Unfortunately, for both sales managers and reps alike, the concept of weekly one-on-one meetings is one often met with disdain. In fact, many reps report that they receive little value from their one-on-one meetings (source). Wondering why? Most managers don’t know how to effectively conduct a one-on-one.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your approach to one-on-one meetings, there’s a simple solution. Ask better questions!

5 Questions to Ask In a Sales One-on-One

As a seasoned sales professional, you already know the value of a well-timed question during the sales process. This same mindset also applies to your one-on-one meetings. Good questions can elicit a wealth of knowledge regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your team. Using that information, you can then tailor your sales coaching strategy to fit each member’s individual needs.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five intelligent questions to ask as a sales manager during your one-on-ones:

1. Can you tell me about your new opportunities?

As a sales manager, it’s critical to keep tabs on the new opportunities your team has pushed into the sales pipeline. This is easily the most essential part of a good sales team and is what separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to sales success.

With this in mind, it’s essential to ask sales reps about the opportunities that have entered their pipeline since your last review. Not only does this question provide insight into each rep’s sales activities, but it also prevents the “boom and bust” cycle—where a rep closes a big deal and then realizes there’s nothing coming down the pipeline.

2. What progress have you made since our last one-on-one?

One of the best ways to gauge the performance of your sales reps is to ask them about the progress they’ve made since your last review. If you’ve got a sales rep who consistently over-promises and under-delivers, you’ll notice that they tend to hang onto the same reported progress from weeks or months ago, while making very little genuine progress on the ground, now. This is a red flag.

Ask each rep about the progress they’ve made during the time since your last meeting. This allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of your team’s sales pipeline, identify the top-performers, and understand who may not be bringing their best efforts to the table.

3. What level of commitment do you receive from your opportunities?

Sales reps spend a huge amount of time building relationships. But, you risk uneven resource distribution if those opportunities aren’t offering some form of commitment in return.

If your reps do everything by the book, but still lose deals, your sales floor is going to sink like the Titanic. In many cases, a dynamic like this is the result of poor coaching. It could also be the fact that your team simply doesn’t have the sales strategy needed to support such efforts. Or, you’re paying too much attention to how many deals are in the pipeline, and not enough to the quality of those deals.

No matter what the case may be, asking this question during your one-on-ones will allow you to get your hands around the issue and come up with a B2B sales training model or approach to rectify it.

4. Which of your opportunities do you think will close next? Why?

For a more outcome-oriented team, encourage your reps to pay close attention to the opportunities that are most likely to close.

This is an essential consideration in the world of sales performance management. While many sales teams focus on closing every single opportunity, this is an unrealistic goal. In fact, this approach will have a long-term, negative impact on the mindset and motivation of your sales reps.

With this in mind, ask questions that encourage your sales reps to focus on the highest-value, most purchase-ready prospects. This tactic is essential to the long-term success of your team and will work wonders to keep reps motivated.

5. What can I do to help you succeed?

In sales, individual failure is really group failure. For this reason, it’s important to be direct about asking your sales reps what they need.

Once you’ve gotten their answers, take actionable steps to make this feedback a reality. When sales reps see proof of your support, it becomes easier to create a sustainable, successful team.

Read More: Sales Account Management: A Guide for Growth

Better One-on-Ones Start Here

The one-on-one is a moment filled with opportunity. Approach your one-on-ones in a way that is centered around each individual rep’s needs, rather than your own needs. Doing so will open your eyes to new issues, gaps in your sales process, and new ways to succeed.

Do your best to understand how to boost team morale by providing the appropriate training and support. Taking all of this into consideration will make your sales one-on-ones more efficient, productive, and actionable.

For more information about ZoomInfo, the leading business information company, contact our sales team today. We have the tools you need to crush your sales and revenue goals.