How to get the most out of your one on ones with Sean Banks
The transition from rockstar sales professional to rockstar sales manager can be…tricky.
Killing your quota every month may lead to professional opportunities and promotions; leading a team of reps, however, just isn’t the same as closing deals. You may relish getting on the phone and talking to leads, or crafting the perfect emails or follow-ups – but now you have to coach others to do so. Routinely.
So, how do you maximize your coaching time with your reps? And, how do you get to know what inspires each or your team members (a critical piece of knowledge for any successful manager) to ensure they’re always hitting their numbers?
For Sean Banks, Director of Sales Development at Atlanta’s QASymphony, genuine coaching and connection come from structured and frequent one on one meetings.
“I think the one thing I’ve seen people do is think that coming from being a killer AE is enough. And, because of that, they give direct commands like ‘you need to do this and this,’” says Banks, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
“But, you have to focus on the person first. Get to know them. One on ones will help with that.”
Of course, one on one meetings aren’t inherently effective – it’s up to managers to make sure they are positive, and fruitful, events. According to Banks, he achieves that goal by making sure each of his one on one meetings follow the same structure.
Prior to each of his meetings, Banks sends out 5 questions that his reps must come prepared to answer. Of those five questions, two (focused on the needs and goals of the rep) are the same every time:
- What are your agenda items (what does the rep want to talk about)?
- What are three things you want to accomplish before our next meeting?
The other three questions, adds Banks, are rotated from his “arsenal” of different topics including the rep’s biggest accomplishment (it’s important to celebrate the personal) or a rep’s biggest bottleneck (it’s important to examine business problems).
“For a manager, it isn’t hard to think of 2-3 specific things you want to talk about. By doing that, you don’t end up having discussions simply about having trouble booking meetings,” says Banks.
“Instead, you have discussions like: “I’m having trouble breaking into these 2-3 accounts. I’m hitting these walls. That’s way more effective.”
Although focused on different things, the tie that binds the one on one questions together is that they’re all personal. Banks believes it’s imperative to get to know your reps as people, not just as data on a Salesforce dashboard, in order to inspire the best performance from them you can and provide nuanced coaching when necessary.
You have to show an interest in your team.
“It’s really hard to just diagnose any problems on a dashboard, from just looking at a dashboard. I’ve had a rep in the past doing all the inputs correctly, but wasn’t getting the meetings. I had this situation at Salesforce,” says Banks.
“From a dashboard, you can make inferences about that, but you have to really understand what is going on in this sort of scenario. So, from talking to the rep I learned this person was just reaching out to the wrong titles. And his call to action in his calls was a little off.”
An necessary extension of structured, effective one on one meetings is, simply put, to make sure you schedule them regularly. At QASymphony, Banks is meeting with each of his reps, each week. That’s 10 one on one meetings per week for Banks – a sizable commitment in time, to be sure, but, no matter what else is happening at the company, is a priority and won’t be re-scheduled.
When he books his one on ones with the team each Monday, those times are locked in.
“This should be a priority. Don’t move this around,” says Banks.
“I do these meetings once per week, with every rep for about 20-30 minutes. I put them on the calendar for 30 minutes, but they don’t always last that long.”
Unless you have a fantastic memory (or your brain has space left after committing all of the other things you have to remember to it), you’re going to need to track the discussion of each one on one meeting.
Yes, they can be repetitive. And, if you’re like Banks, your meetings even have weekly repeating questions.
But you have to keep track of what you and your rep discussed, whether it be the positive, or the negative. These meetings are forums to share, understand and, ultimately, progress. That deserves to be tracked.
Banks says he uses a tool called WideAngle, but having a specific tool isn’t necessary. A Google form will suffice (Banks previously used a Google for before switching over to WideAngle) or even a simple notebook.
By this point, it’s clear what Banks would suggest to other SDR managers as critical planks for successful one on ones: have a structure, make sure the meetings happen on a regular basis, and track the results of each discussion.
But there’s one other thing that Banks says should be a part of every meeting: positivity.
Yes, these are moments for coaching. And, yes, from time to time challenging discussions may be had. But the ultimate goal of the one one one meeting is to connect, learn and uplift. And positivity, he says, is the key ingredient for that.
“How a rep feels when they leave a meeting with their manager is what they will remember. So, if they leave happy, that’s great. You should always bring positive points to those meetings,” says Banks.
“How effective those meetings are will directly correlate with how effective a leader you are.”
Yes, effective one on ones aren’t just Salesforce dashboard review sessions. But, that doesn’t imply that Salesforce dashboards aren’t awesome. They are.
Here’s a quick look at the three main groupings of Salesforce dashboards Banks uses to keep tabs on his SDRs activity:
- Team – team members all grouped together (reps can see how they stack up against each other) – stuff like meetings set, meetings held, call connects, team MQLs for the month. Their SDRs get paid on meetings set.
- Personal dashboards – reps can dive in and get super granular on how their numbers (total calls / total emails, call connects / emails connects etc).
- Organization wide dashboard (that’s what he uses to convey the effectiveness of his team to other leaders in the company).
For more on Sean Banks thoughts on one on one meetings, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.