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One-on-One Meeting Templates for Top Performing Sales Teams

One-on-One Meeting Template for Sales Managers

We’ve collected wisdom from sales leaders on how to run efficient and performance-focused one-on-ones with reps.

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One-on-One Meeting Agenda Template

Sample One-on-One Questions for Managers

The importance of one-on-ones for sales teams

One-on-ones are an important platform for developing trust and rapport between sales reps and managers. They’re a chance for leaders to engage in a personal dialogue, understand individual strengths and weaknesses to best guide and motivate reports, and keep the team focused on sales results.

Rep productivity increased by 25% in under 18 months at one consumer services company as soon as a sales leader stopped issuing blanket sales directives and started implementing one-on-one sessions and ride-alongs. Managers focused on nurturing specific skills and set concrete goals to enforce rep development. The human element to management had been missing, but once the company prioritized it, it made an undeniable impact on revenue.

Interestingly, there’s a discrepancy between how much sales leadership believe they coach, and how supported reps feel. Leaders at another Fortune 500 company perceived that they spent enough time coaching their direct reports, scoring themselves in the 80th percentile. Meanwhile, their direct reports believed they receive little to no coaching from their leaders, scoring them at the 38th percentile. Could there be a similar gap on your team? This guide will help you close the rift.

Coaching style influences revenue results

A sales leader who is dedicating just the right amount of time to coaching and one-on-ones may still be able to improve their coaching style. Formal and dynamic coaching styles are correlated with a 13% and 27% increase in win rates, respectively, as compared with random and informal approaches.

  • Random coaching: Coaching is “left up to managers,” and there are no top-down guidelines.
  • Informal coaching: Guidelines are available, but no defined process has been formally implemented.
  • Formal coaching: Leaders are expected to coach according to a structured process; there is a formal effort to develop their skills; there are periodic reviews to optimize process and guidelines.
  • Dynamic coaching: A formal process is connected to the sales enablement approach to ensure reinforcement and adoption of the initiatives by salespeople.

Sales leaders should evaluate their company’s coaching process to implement a system that is structured and predictable, yet flexible enough for a personal approach that’s effective in driving results.

Create a agendas to provide structure to your one-on-ones

Agendas bring this proper structure to one-on-ones, help squeeze more value out of every minute, and provide continuity across meetings week to week.

Asking the right questions in one-on-ones clarifies actions and expectations from both sides and opens the discussion to wider problem-solving and troubleshooting. One-on-one meetings are a dialogue, and an agenda can help you stay on track.

Do’s and Don’ts of One-on-Ones

There are a few ground rules for sales managers to ensure the best outcomes.

Do:

  • Come to the meeting prepared, and have your rep prepare as well. A good place to start is to share an agenda (a sample template is included below).
  • Review performance metrics, but take a holistic approach. Laurie Page, Managing Partner at Bridge Group, says, “Go beyond the metrics. For example, as a Sales Leader, I always had reps come with responses to the following questions:”
    • Top 2 accomplishments (from our last meeting or the week)
    • Top 2 challenges with a proposed solution (from our last meeting or the week)
    • What you’d like from me (as your leader)
  • Document the outcome at the end of each meeting. Agree on action items and deadlines, and record them in writing in an email summary or shared document. Writing them down ensures accountability and eliminates misunderstandings.
  • Strategize with reps and help them identify solutions. Page recommends, “Instead of saying, ‘you need a bigger pipeline,’ brainstorm with reps on actual strategies and tactics to increase pipeline.”
  • Schedule regular, recurring one-on-ones with every member of the team. They can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly, but place them at the same time and on the same day. This predictability helps the rep to deliver on action items from the previous meeting by creating clear deadlines.
  • Be on time or early. This demonstrates that you value and care about the employee.
  • Schedule 5–15 minutes of buffer time at the end of a one-on-one to privately synthesize your thoughts and notes about team needs. (If your one-on-one is 25 minutes, schedule 30; if it’s 45 minutes, schedule 60.)

Don’t:

  • Never cancel one-on-one meetings, and reschedule only if absolutely necessary. This supports accountability.
  • Never use phones during the meeting. It’s crucial that you are 100% present. Taking brief notes on a laptop is fine, but discussion and connection are the priorities, and they should take precedence over everything else.

A few advanced tips:

Salesforce’s Colin Nanka suggests that employees can send their manager an agenda in writing 24–48 hours ahead of the one-on-one. This helps them identify high-priority discussion meetings and lets you get up to speed in advance so the meeting stays concise but provides maximum value.

He also suggests to schedule one-on-ones for the beginning of the week, preferably on Mondays and Tuesdays. This allows reps to plan their week according to the priorities identified in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Cameron Herold, author of Meetings Suck, recommends that managers schedule one-on-ones on the same day as sales leadership meetings, in which managers review numbers, dashboards, and goals. That way, all sales leaders are on the same page and bring the same core priorities to their one-on-ones later.

One-on-ones are easy to neglect or get wrong, but they’re not difficult to get right when you follow these core principles and rules of etiquette. A little thought and planning will quickly enable you to get the most out of your relationships with reps.

 

One-on-One Meeting Agenda Template

This agenda template provides a high-level structure for your one-on-ones, which you can customize using our sample questions below (or write your own).

How long the meeting lasts is up to you, but they’re usually in the range of 30–60 minutes. Sixty minutes allow you to dig into the issues at hand. Thirty minutes forces you and your rep to be more efficient and may be more manageable if you have a large number of direct reports.

One-on-One Agenda Template

Download the template as a PDF

Schedule 30–60 minute calendar block for a 25–45 minute meeting.1. Meet with rep (25–45 min):

  • 5 min: Open-ended starter question (“How was last week?”)
  • 15–30 min: Structured questions (see examples of questions below)
    • Evaluate previous week’s performance
    • Problem-solve specific situations
    • Ask the rep for feedback about the manager
    • Assess areas for personal and professional growth
    • Set up next week’s goals and expectations
  • 5 min: Define action items in writing

2. Transition (5–15 min): Buffer time for the manager to consolidate high-level thoughts and jot down notes, take a short break, and make it early to the next meeting.

Sample One-on-One Questions for Managers

To encourage this dialogue, we’ve developed these open-ended questions to help open up the discussion and to stimulate the rep to think critically about the points raised.

To encourage this dialogue, we’ve developed these open-ended questions to help open up the discussion and to stimulate the rep to think critically about the points raised.

Evaluate the previous week’s performance

  • What was last week’s goal?
  • Did you hit it?
  • Ask about specific selling activities:
    • Calls
    • Emails sent
    • Demos
    • In-person meetings
    • Proposals
  • What happened during these activities?
    • Dig into the details and ask for any data available. For example, when discussing calls, look into the number of calls attempted, how many connections were actually made, the call lengths, and the results.

Set up next week’s goals and expectations

  • What are your plans and priorities for the coming week?
  • What are next week’s targets, in terms of the selling activities discussed above?

Coach and problem-solve specific situations

  • What’s working?
  • Where are you getting stuck?
  • If there is a problem, what do you think it is? (This question-and-answer-based, collaborative style of “argumentative” dialogue is known as the “Socratic method,” and it helps you work more closely with the rep to identify the root causes of any issues and get buy-in for change.)
  • What might you do differently?
  • Kelly Riggs of The Business LockerRoom recommends asking the rep to detail one thing that worked and one thing that didn’t in the previous week, and to name:
    • One thing to start doing
    • One thing to stop doing
    • One thing to keep doing

Utilize the following types of sales coaching to guide the rep through real-world scenarios they’re currently engaging with:

  • Sales skills coaching: Troubleshoot sales skills and a rep’s ability to communicate value.
  • Lead and opportunity coaching: Examine a specific lead or account to determine its position in the buyer’s journey. Discuss the optimal activities for the rep to move it forward.
  • Pipeline coaching: Together with the rep, assess their pipeline and determine the most promising accounts. Collaboratively define where they should focus their energies.

Laurie Page shares a tactic she loves to use, developed by Larry D’Angelo, SVP of Sales at LogMeIn. “The idea is that a leader should go through their reps’ forecasts deal by deal. You’ll do another layer of sales qualification by asking:

  1. Why does the the prospect need to buy anything?
  2. What’ll happen if they do nothing?
  3. Which of our key differentiation have they locked on to?

If the reps can’t answer all three questions clearly, don’t report that opportunity up into your forecast.”

Ask for a rep’s feedback about you as a manager

  • Do you have any feedback for me?

Feedback for you as a manager is just as important as the feedback you give to your rep. Ask what you’re doing well, or what you can do to provide better support. Kelly Riggs suggests asking the rep to use the SBI model (Situation, Behavior, Impact) when delivering this feedback.

Assess areas for personal and professional growth

  • How are you doing?
  • What is one thing I can help you with this week to support your growth?

Asking insightful and incisive questions during one-on-one will yield a large amount of information and direct your attention to areas where your rep needs the most development.

Evaluating Employees During One-on-Ones

One-on-ones are not a forum for berating or badgering a rep; on the contrary, their primary purpose is to nurture and benefit the employee. According to Kelly Riggs, the chief idea of a one-on-one is for sales leaders to ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the answers so they can properly evaluate their employees. Being attentive will alert you to particular patterns and behaviors that need work.

As you work through an employee’s performance reports during one-on-ones, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does she create an effective plan each week? Is it consistent with her overall sales plan?
  • Is she executing her plan?
  • Does she have a strong understanding of our sales process?
  • Is her sales pipeline full of qualified opportunities?

Riggs advises against knee-jerk reactions and instant results-oriented decisions. “I resist the need to correct and criticize every problem I see,” he says. “Don’t jump into major correction during the first two or three one-on-one meetings, because you’ll want the pattern to surface and become apparent through observation.”

Similarly, it’s often a good idea to ask for permission to give advice when behavior correction is necessary—for example, there may be occasions when more serious issues simply can’t wait until an annual review. “In those situations when I most definitely want to offer specific advice, I actually ask permission,” Riggs notes. Wording the advice diplomatically—and asking permission to do so—will usually yield better results than laying down the law. “You will be surprised at the difference it makes to ask rather than simply dictate next steps,” he says.

Take brief notes during or after the meeting, to which you can refer during future one-on-ones, and which will help you evaluate the rep’s planning abilities and how they’ve achieved their goals from the previous meeting (or not).

Throughout the process, the focus needs to be on the rep and the development of their potential.

Make one-on-ones happen

Every sales force is judged on its performance. But every team is also made up of individuals, and great sales leaders make sure that they connect personally with every member of their team to meet their unique needs and help them reach their highest potential. By holding effective, meaningful one-on-ones, you can have tangible effects on sales results, as well as employee morale and retention.

Every organization has a different culture and philosophy, but sales leaders can customize one-on-ones to suit their team’s environment and temperament. The meetings’ frequency and length, as well as the type and number of questions discussed, can be continuously refined and adapted, growing and evolving with the team and the business.

What’s most important is consistency, and ensuring that the meetings happen in the first place. If you don’t yet have a practice of regular one-on-ones, it’s up to you to make it happen. Instigate your first meetings straight away and optimize them from there.

The data reveals the value of these meetings, but your team’s morale—and sales results—will speak for themselves.

Andrea Nellestyn

Candidate Marketing Specialist at Peak Sales Recruiting
Andrea spent her first few years at Peak as one of the firm's top headhunters before being selected to initiate and run the firm's candidate marketing division. A graduate of Carleton University, Andrea is a regular contributor to the Peak Sales blog.

Andrea Nellestyn

Andrea spent her first few years at Peak as one of the firm's top headhunters before being selected to initiate and run the firm's candidate marketing division. A graduate of Carleton University, Andrea is a regular contributor to the Peak Sales blog.

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