For sales managers, every day's mission is ensuring that sales reps have the tools they need to hit their sales goals and put their best foot forward.
In some cases, though, this is easier said than done. Even sales managers who care deeply about their reps and want to offer the training and support needed can fall into a place where they're simply not sure how to be as effective as possible.
Here are five intelligent questions you can ask your reps to maximize one-on-ones and ensure the process is as constructive and efficient as possible.
One of the first things you must do as a sales manager is keep tabs on how your team is driving new leads into the sales pipeline. This is easily the most essential part of a good sales team and is what separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to success.
With this in mind, it's essential to ask sales reps about the leads that have entered their pipeline since your last review. In addition to allowing you to keep tabs on how (and where) your team is growing, checking in on this factor also prevents the "boom and bust" cycle of sales, wherein reps close a big deal, and then realize they don't have any other work coming down the pipeline.
One of the best ways to gauge the performance of your sales reps is to ask them about the progress they've made since your last review. If you've got a sales rep who consistently over-promises and under-delivers, you'll notice that they tend to hang onto the same reported progress from weeks or months ago, while making very little genuine progress on the ground, now. This is a red flag.
To vet your sales reps and their progress fully, ask them specifically about the progress they've made during the time since your last meeting. This allows you to keep a finger on the pulse of your team's sales pipeline, identify the top-performers, and understand who may not be bringing their best efforts to the table.
Sales reps spend a huge amount of time building relationships, but you risk uneven resource distribution if those leads aren't offering some form of commitment, in return.
If all your reps are writing proposals, trying to sell leads, but getting no interest and not closing any deals, your sales floor is going to sink like the Titanic. In many cases, a dynamic like this is the result of poor coaching. It could also be the fact that your team simply doesn't have the sales strategy needed to support such efforts, or that you're paying too much attention to how many leads are in the pipeline, and not enough to the quality of said leads.
No matter what the case may be, asking this question during your sales rep one-on-ones will allow you to get your hands around the issue and come up with a sales training model or approach to rectify it if need be.
If you want your sales reps to be as focused and outcome-oriented as possible, it's important that they pay close attention to the opportunities that are most likely to close.
This is an essential consideration in the world of pipeline coaching. While many sales teams focus on driving sales reps to close every single lead in their pipeline, this is an unrealistic goal that isn't ultimately sustainable. In fact, it'll have a long-term, negative impact on the mindset and motivation of your sales reps.
With this in mind, start asking questions that encourage your sales reps to focus on the highest-value, most purchase-ready prospects and why they're likely to close. This approach is essential to the long-term success of your team and will work wonders to keep reps motivated.
When your team can help you help them, everyone wins. Remember: an individual failure is really a group failure.
With this in mind, be upfront and open about asking your reps what they need, how you can help, what they feel they're not getting enough of, how you can support them in progressing through a deal, or how they wish they could leverage their network.
Once you've gotten their answers, take real and proactive steps to make them a reality. When sales reps see that you are supporting them and taking their needs into consideration as you build out your training programs, it's easier than ever before to create a sustainable team that meets its goals every month.
The one-on-one is a moment filled with opportunity. By approaching it in a way that is sales-rep-centric and understanding which questions will boost your team morale and give your reps the training and support they need, you can make these regular reviews more efficient, productive, and actionable.