Sales managers often ask us how to make Individual Focus Meetings (IFM) with their salespeople more productive. What's interesting about this, is that salespeople also ask us (on a weekly, if not bi-weekly basis) why they even need an Individual Focus Meeting with their sales manager.
As you can already tell, there seems to be an issue with this weekly meeting — neither side is getting what they want out of it. And we understand why this is happening.
Why Sales Managers and Salespeople Avoid Meetings
Sales managers are overwhelmed by the last-minute urgencies that break out unexpectedly. Often, they have too many direct reports, so they have difficulty finding the time to slow down and have a 30 to 45-minute meeting with a seller, who, in their opinion, is not interested in meeting.
Salespeople have their pressures too. They have urgent task lists that need to get done, keep up with their CRM, do their weekly internal paperwork, and let's not forget, they have clients who need their attention. They also know they can find their manager if they need to, so meeting for 30-45 minutes only feels redundant.
The fact is — Individual Focus Meetings, when done right, are game-changers. We've seen it happen.
Improve Your Individual Focus Meetings
Try these three steps this week and see if you can improve your Individual Focus Meetings.
1. Let the Salesperson Run the Meeting
You're only there to be a resource for your salespeople, and you should hand over the reins during this face-to-face, or video chat. 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 salespeople 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 pulls your attention away from your salesperson. Hang a note on your office door that says, “Please do not interrupt. Individual Focus Meeting in progress.”
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 three critical steps, and you'll find that your Individual Focus Meetings are more productive. With practice and repetition, you'll find that this will become a meeting that no one will want to miss.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in September 2016 and has since been updated.