sales coaching

I know what you’re thinking: Who has time for another meeting? And you’d be right if we were talking about just another meeting. But that’s not it. This is the meeting that will change the way you interact with those you coach.

Every person you manage has unique motivations. It’s your job to understand them. It’s also your job to foster the kind of trust that gets your team to take your sales coaching feedback seriously.

Ready to find out how one type of meeting can accomplish all of this and more?

What it is

The concept is simple: Thirty-minute one-on-ones between you and your salespeople to discuss the past month. What makes this meeting different? The salesperson defines your talk track.

How it will change your sales coaching

If done well, this meeting will:

  • Cultivate the kind of trust between you and your team that breeds candid communication.
  • Sharpen your view of what motivates individual salespeople.
  • Minimize your chances of making up inaccurate “stories” about what kind of sales coaching your team needs. (For example, if a lead report shows limited activity for one salesperson, maybe you assume that individual lacks motivation; in reality, perhaps your CRM set-up doesn’t clearly outline who owns which leads. Or maybe that salesperson does lack motivation. You’ll find out, and coach around what’s needed.)
  • Promote employee engagement and, in turn, sales coaching output.
(Speaking of changing your sales coaching, have you checked out LevelEleven’s Coaching technology yet?)

How to make it happen

Move monthly check-ins from concept to launch with these steps:

1. Draft 5 questions that would be valuable to ask salespeople in a monthly check-in. Aim to uncover insights into sales performance, but don’t get too specific – staying broad leaves room for interpretation, so salespeople can answer according to what’s important for them to discuss at the moment. Think along the lines of…

  • How’s it going overall?
  • How’s your workload?
  • How have your sales conversations been?

Note: Your questions will simply guide salespeople as they craft their own talk track, so don’t spend too much time on this step.

2. Introduce the meeting to your team. If possible, do this is at one-on-ones in 3 steps:

  • Explain that you will start meeting monthly, because you want to take time to focus on what really matters to that individual in a career.
  • Show the salesperson your 5 questions, and ask them to use these for inspiration as they create their own set of 5 questions for monthly discussion. Be clear that their questions might include some or none of yours. To get the salesperson on the right track, encourage them to think of the elements of their ideal work environment (autonomy? specific skill development opportunities?) and then develop questions around those.
  • Reinforce that the point of this is for you to build the best work environment you can for that individual.

3. When ready, discuss your salesperson’s question list. Drill in for clarity. Use this time to really understand that individual’s motivations, and ensure those come through in the questions. For example, if autonomy motivates a salesperson, suggest adding: How was your level of autonomy this month?

4. Together, settle on 5-8 final questions. Aim to have at least five from the salesperson and no more than three from you.

5. Schedule your first 30-minute monthly meeting. (Tip: To keep your number of meetings manageable overall, consider substituting your first one-on-one each month with this check-in.) Tell your salesperson when the meeting is and to show up with answers to the final questions.

6. During your first monthly check-in, ask the salesperson to walk you through their responses. It’s up to you whether you stop for discussion after each question, or the entire list. Just remember to listen. That’s your whole job here.

7. Make sure at least one action item surfaces from the discussion – especially any that relate to sales performance.

Bonus: Pair this with skill training by choosing one skill each month that your salesperson will work on, based on any issues uncovered. Review progress at your next monthly session.

8. After the meeting, remember what you learned. Check in on challenges discussed. Show that you paid attention. All salespeople should know that you genuinely care about their performance and growth.

Some of this might sound fluffy. I get it. But the kind of trust that this type of listening creates will directly increase sales productivity. It builds a team that wants to work hard and an environment where issues are quickly communicated and handled.

And of course, these sessions improve your ability to lead. They remind you to see each individual as just that, so you can motivate and coach accordingly.

Just never skip a meeting. If you communicate those 30 minutes as a secondary priority, that’s exactly how a salesperson will look at them. Then this will become just another meeting.

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