The day is Tuesday. The hour is 11:00am. It’s week four of the first quarter and Henry, the Sales Manager, requested a one on one meeting with a mid-point account executive. He’s done the due diligence of creating a plan that is focused, efficient, brief, and simple. The schedule includes talking points from the margins that were not on target for two of the last three weeks. He plans to be bold, stern, yet every 70th day he finds himself having the same conversation with a different person – hence the 60% turnover rate. This may be the last one-on-one with John.
Account Executive John is feeling quite nervous before the meeting because one-on-ones in the company have negative connotations associated with them. He walks into Henry’s cold office and looks around noticing numbers scribbled on white boards and a slew of reports covering his desk. The thing that John notices is that his name is highlighted in blue on the top report and only imagines the worst. He wonders how he ranks amongst his peers. Did the paperwork get rejected on his last sale? John is clamming up. His defenses are rising. His disposition is rapidly turning… then walks in Henry.
The first order of business is to explain the schedule of events to take place during the meeting and then dive right into interrogation mode. This is when Henry and so many other managers lose focus in the art of managing others. This is the pivotal time, leading to a great turnaround, but the one-on-one approach no longer does the trick. We’re selling complex solutions now, with bells and whistles that were not available 30 years ago, yet most managers have been in practice for 30 years. What does that say about the culture? Are we truly open to being teachable? Or is that what we say because that is what we hear?
What I have seen work time and time again is the “One on One plus Another” approach. As a manager we have duties to connect with our reps in a way that fosters open communication – both giving and receiving. When looking at a case like John a mid-range selling rep, it’s best to also schedule a meeting with Jeff. Jeff has a passion for the company that overflows into his sales calls. Jeff has also been with the company 4-5 months longer than John and is in a groove.
This dialogue offers both executives the opportunity to discuss their high and low sales, objections faced, report numbers, and hear your recommendations with a receptive ear. John Is active listening to Jeff as he recalls methods used to win his last five sales. John is taking mental notes on what he can incorporate into his sales conversations. Jeff is listening to John as he speaks about what worked on his sold accounts. Both reps walk away with tips for the toolbox by indirectly helping each other win more, faster. Henry wins as well. He was able to get their defenses down and support collective reasoning while having two meetings – balancing his time management.
When you are looking at ways to motivate your staff without pitting one against the other in terms of ranking, the “Two on One” or “One on One plus” approach works. It invites creativity for pursuit in a high level/high activity format. Watch the sales spike as your team member pulls strength peer to client interactions. They are now thinking collaboratively without you telling them to work as a team. Rest assured that until the margin changes again, this is a sure fire way to make John sell from Henry’s perspective and win more.
Manevil Lewis – curator of Ultimate Sales Guide