06 June 2023 |

Where Most 1:1’s Crumble

By Alex Alleyne

A 1:1 with your sellers is a critical opportunity for you to both learn and share. Where most sales leaders falter, is they see it as an opportunity to do more of the latter and less of the former.

All too often, I see the following format:

  • Ask how they are
  • Discuss the latest change in the weather
  • Ask what deal developments have happened in the last week
  • Align on deal next steps
  • Recap, rinse, repeat

At its core, a 1:1 shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to walk through deal reviews. Your goal is to unpack your sellers’ personal and professional motivations whilst using the time to align as to how you can both take shared steps forward in line with these motivations.

Your 1:1 Is Dead Without Structure

Do you encourage your sellers to go into a customer meeting unprepared and without an agenda? I didn’t think so.

So why would you be comfortable doing the same when it comes to your team? You shouldn’t be.

All 1:1’s should have a clearly defined agenda, structure and purpose that is outlined within your calendar invite.

With my directs, the agenda reads as follows:

  1. Anything top of mind, whether personal or professional.
  2. Update on your state of play when it comes to Recruitment, Retention & Revenue.
  3. Your top 3 priorities for the week ahead.
  4. Updates and feedback from me.

Why is the order intentionally mapped this way?

1: I always start with anything that is top of mind for my direct report. This gives them the opportunity to feel heard, valued and important, by starting the meeting with the most notable points in their mind. By tackling these first, it sets a strong tone for the rest of the 1:1 with your direct report feeling like they have an early win, allowing them to now focus on the rest of the agenda.

2: The 3 R’s are something I learned from researching Jeremy Duggan and how he scaled AppDynamics, which eventually sold to Cisco for $3.7B.

We cannot get away from the fact that any 1:1 needs to move the needle on the core pillars that directly affect performance. The 3 R’s provide a great framework for any sales leader to evaluate the core aspects of what it takes for your report to become an effective leader over time. During this part of the 1:1, you’re generally seeking to align on the latest in each of the 3 R’s. This presents a window from which you can provide coaching and development advice.

Now, to be clear, the 3 R’s are typically geared towards 2nd line sales leaders in 1:1’s with sales managers who report to them. With that said, if you are a 1st line leader, you can simply remove ‘Recruitment’ and instead, focus the conversation around Retention (Personal Development) and Revenue. 

🎯Tip: Avoid the trap of turning the Revenue aspect of the conversation into a glorified Forecast call. Instead, use it as an opportunity to unpack how your direct report is thinking about the path to hit their quota and dive into areas where you can remove blockers.

3: Top priorities help you to understand the way your direct report is thinking about effective time management. This presents a prime opportunity to align around what truly moves the needle during the week ahead. Where you see opportunities to optimize their schedule, now is the time to call it out.

Just last week, I had a conversation with one of my direct reports who had to decide between flying out of country to support 1 team member and remaining in the UK to be more accessible to the rest of the team.

Together, we worked through the opportunity cost of catching that flight and whether that fell in line with our top line priorities. Once we explored in more detail, they made the decision to remain in the UK.

This is an example around how you could and should be working with your team to help them to see the bigger picture whilst clawing back any seconds of precious time.

4: Updates and feedback are left until the end for a reason. Not because it isn’t important, but because there’s an opportunity to deliver updates and feedback asynchronously if needed.

For example, if you find yourself running short on time, covering points 1 – 3 are key because they require immediate input from your direct report. Whereas updates and feedback can be summarized in a follow up video, email or Slack message with a follow up call to deep dive, only if necessary.

You may find there are particular updates that are sensitive and absolutely must be delivered 1:1 or there may be scenarios where you can deliver these updates one to many. Be thoughtful about the appropriate format and forum from which to deliver information to ensure you maximize your own time and that of your team.

Develop, Develop, Develop

Building trust and respect from your team starts with your ability to make them more effective in their role. Many sales leaders compromise their desire to be liked over their need to be effective.

Ensure you use 1:1’s as a critical window to make your direct report at least 1% better by the time they leave.

Using the structure above, enter the conversation with a point of view around how they could become better in a particular area. Don’t try to figure it all out in real time then find yourself scrambling for what you can contribute.

Before your 1:1 starts, ensure you have some notes typed out around what you want to cover, what you have observed from them over the past week and where you see opportunity for update.

For example, recently, one of my direct reports was having some challenges with time management. They were getting to the end of the day feeling overwhelmed without much calendar control. In advance of our 1:1, I had already worked through an updated approach around how they could claw back up to 3 hours per week. Instead of having to ask a ton of questions and try to figure it all out during the 1:1 itself, I was able to ask for a bit more detail, present what I had come up with and focus the time on moving the matter forward versus solely diagnosing it.

🎯Tip: Keep your 1:1’s to 30 minutes per week, ideally on a Monday. If you need more time, then add more time. Don’t over engineer the amount of time you need upfront, value the clock.

Next Week: Delivering Best In Class Weekly Enablement

As Sales Leaders, we’re only effective if we’re developing our teams and making them more productive. Next week we will unpack how to deliver weekly enablement sessions that combine structure, focus and efficacy so that your team can reach new heights this year.