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From getting run-over to running a Team

Let me tell you a story about...

My first Sales Manager role just out of college. I was brand new to sales and to managing people. Looking back now, I wish I'd had access to the necessary resources and training to lead individuals.

One Tuesday morning, I was at my desk responding to client emails when I heard agitated voices just outside my open office door. Two of the individuals I managed were upset with each other. One felt she was carrying the load of a project. The other felt it wasn't her responsibility.

As the tensions mounted, I sat in my office completely lost as to how to handle the situation. I not-so-secretly hoped the disagreement would resolve on its own, but of course, it didn't. So after what felt like eternity, I mustered my most powerful voice and shouted out "Ladies, PLEASE stop arguing", and did nothing more. Yep. I know. 🤦‍♀️

Did the argument end? Sure.

Did I effectively lead my team by getting to the root of the issue? Nope.

The truth is, I was young and inexperienced and wasn't thinking through how I could get ahead of these situations. These two individuals had been frustrated with each other for a long time and didn't have an outlet to express those frustrations to me. I hadn't taken the time to build trust with each of them; our 1:1's had no structure and I wasn't taking a leadership position with them. Ugh. While the solution seems so obvious to me now, I was clueless at the time.

Now I run weekly, structured 1:1's. Not only does it allow us to push forward in meeting goals, it opens the line of communication and catches issues before they turn into real problems.

Here's a weekly sales 1:1 format that's worked well for me (which can be tweaked for non-sales roles)...

  • Recap of last week's priorities
  • One highlight/win from last week*
  • Top 3 priorities for this week
  • [Insert topics from sales rep: i.e. challenges they're facing]
  • Roadblocks you need help removing
  • Calls scheduled for the week (confirm if shadowing + providing feedback on any)

*While closing business is a great win to share, make sure to consider any type of win, not just something that brings in revenue. It could be that they finally reached an unreachable prospect, they tried video outreach vs. email, or they efficiently time-blocked their week to get everything done that they needed to.

Note: depending on where your reps are at in their sales journey, it often makes sense to have a separate Pipeline Review meeting. That way you have time to get into the nitty gritty of deals and what steps need to be taken to move an opportunity forward.

The first time I hold a 1:1, I send the agenda via email/slack/etc. Going forward, the agenda is then included in the standing weekly 1:1. Both individuals in the meeting have edit rights to add topics pre-meeting. We'll jump around based on flow of convo, but this ensures we hit all agenda topics.

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