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November 17, 2015
3 Tips to Make 1:1s More Effective
Quick question for sales managers: Do you add value in your rep 1:1s?
Let me guess: “Of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t do them!”
But are you sure? It’s so easy to let 1:1s be one-way discussions — reps review deals and we listen. But they should be about strategies to get more wins.
Three tips will make your 1:1s more effective: research before the meeting, decide beforehand which deals to discuss, and offer help that matters.
Your 1:1 starts before the meeting — with four questions about your rep's pipeline:
- What are the most important deals?
- What new opportunities have come into the pipeline?
- What deals haven’t moved in months?
- How is the rep’s pipeline for future quarters?
The problem is it’s hard to know all this without a long phone call. Or it is if you use only your CRM. But a new generation of tools — tools like Clari — work with your CRM and other sources to show how deals are moving, identify which deals will close, gauge rep activity, and show whether customers are engaged.
2. Plan Your Call
A call plan is critical, but it has to take a few minutes, not hours. Four things will help:
- Pick the deals you’ll cover. You’ll never have time to hit every deal. Skip the sure wins and drill into deals at risk. Even better, know in advance about next steps and meetings for make-or-break accounts because a critical deal without a next step is a sure red flag. A tool like Clari shows you all of this in a glance.
- Should you have a role in the rep’s next meeting? Now we’re hitting a prime 1:1 topic. Is the meeting goal clear? Discovery? New exec champion? Breaking a logjam? Terms negotiation? A quick look at time in stage and communication flow from the customer to the rep gets you ready.
- No next step? Your rep needs help. This starts with your experience. But your gut instinct needs feeding — you need to be aware of recent changes, relationship strength, customer engagement, and data science driven next steps. Seeing a trend on how software can help? Tired of bringing a knife to gunfight?
- Organize and share your thoughts with your reps. Google Docs, Microsoft OneNote, and Evernote are good options. Shared notes and actions mean clarity … and accountability.
You’re ready. Time for the 1:1.
My top recommendation? Remember that your 1:1 is about action, not updates. Top reps know when to bring in their manager, but when you’re armed with deal insight, you can drive the conversation. When the talk goes from reviewing yesterday to planning tomorrow, your team appreciates the help, win rates rise, and sales cycles accelerate.
I’ll end with a story from a recent 1:1: The rep had invested a ton of time in a deal and didn’t want to walk away. Who does? But data science shows when our deals stay in one stage significantly longer than others, they usually end up as losers. And these no-decision losers suck up time better spent where we can win. We’ve all heard, “I can live with ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but ‘maybe’ will kill me.” With better deal insight, I don’t let “maybe” kill us anymore. So we pushed the deal and made the quarter a different way. The difference? I felt armed to make the call. It wasn’t a guess.
Easiest Path to 1:1 Success
My bottom line on rep 1:1s? Skip the hours of play-by-play and focus on strategy advice. Two ways to do that: spend hours you don’t have preparing on the front end or use a tool like Clari to give you instant visibility. If the second method sounds interesting, please let us know.