Every week or two, in nearly every sales organization across the country, sales managers and salespeople sit down together for their regularly scheduled individual focus meetings.
You’re familiar with these meetings, so let me ask you... in your opinion, do your salespeople look forward to them? Are they anxious to share valuable information and discuss next steps in order to ensure they are moving business forward? For the most part, would you say they are a good use of everyone’s time?
Many will answer, “No.”
In my experience, both salespeople and sales managers often find themselves dreading these one-on-one meetings because they feel as though they are a waste of their time.
Sales managers, often overwhelmed by the fires that break out unexpectedly in the office, and the mobs of people that continuously tug at them, find it nearly impossible to slam on the brakes for 30-45 minutes per meeting. They tell stories of salespeople that come to the meetings completely unprepared and lacking any new information to share. As a result, they find it hard to justify the time expenditure.
Salespeople, often pressured by the urgent items screaming at them from their task lists, lack the sense of urgency to meet with their manager and find it hard to shut everything down for this regular meeting. They know they can find their manager if they need to, and after all, they have already reported their pending business for the week, so meeting for 30-45 minutes only feels redundant. They tell stories of sitting in their manager’s office with their eyes on the clock as their manager answers the phone or take questions from people who periodically pop in and interrupt.
It is time to stop the insanity!
Call an end to the mundane, mediocre meetings that waste everyone’s time. The fact is that these meetings, when done right, can be game changers. I’ve seen it happen.
Great sales managers set the stage for great weekly individual focused meetings. Their formula involves the following 3 steps which ensure the meeting is productive for both the seller and the manager.
Try these 3 steps this week and see if you can improve your own individual focus meetings:
1. Let the salesperson run the meeting.
You are only there to be a resource for them and you should hand over the reins during this face-to-face. All individual meetings must focus on the salesperson's best customers (Key accounts) and their best prospects (Target accounts), but it needs to be their meeting to run. Remember to spend this time focusing only on accounts and account development. Coaching the seller to improve their skills should be done when you are in the field together.
2. Pay Attention and let them know this is important.
Shut the door, turn off your phone, rotate your computer screen, turn down the volume on your computer, and limit any other distraction that might pull your attention away from your salesperson. Hang a note on your office door that says “Please do not interrupt. Individual Focus Meeting in progress.” (Start on time, take notes, actively participate, and “never reschedule.”)
3. Make a plan.
Use this time to help the salesperson to build a plan that moves things forward. After you discuss each Key or Target account, make sure you ask these two easy questions:
What is your next step with this account?
What is your projection date to this get accomplished?
This is the key to making sure this is a working meeting with clear action steps rather than simply a recap of what was done last week or last month. Take notes and send them out with the detailed next steps and the timelines that were discussed.
Follow these 3 critical steps and I am sure you will find that your individual focus meetings will be more productive. With practice and repetition, you will find that this will become a meeting that no one will want to miss.