Research shows that next to good work/life balance, the top quality young people look for in their jobs is learning and skill development opportunities—yet 87% of salespeople say they don’t receive enough coaching. That’s a lot of driven salespeople we want on our teams, and if we don’t adequately invest in their development, we run the risk of losing them.
If you’re already coaching your reps consistently and regularly, you’re probably wondering how you could possibly find time for additional sales coaching. But I don’t think people necessarily need more coaching. They need better coaching. Optimizing the existing 1:1s on your calendar with a structured one on one meeting agenda will empower you to make the most of your time and get the most out of every rep.
In this post, I’ll break down the elements of a one on one meeting agenda and how to create one, how you can use it to document rep progress and provide feedback, and how an agenda will help you deliver more value during each coaching session. Plus, I’ll share free 1:1 coaching templates from top sales managers that you can download and use right away.
What is a one on one meeting agenda?
A one on one meeting agenda is a pre-set plan that outlines the purpose and objectives of your meeting to ensure that every minute of that time is spent in a valuable way. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a meeting where someone (maybe even you) asks, “So, what are we covering today?” No one has time for that. With a meeting agenda, that doesn’t happen. Instead of taking those few moments to align on the purpose of your meeting, you can jump right in and actually use that time to coach.
Productive 1:1s start before the meeting begins and empower both rep and manager to come prepared. I create meeting agendas directly within Ambition’s Coaching Orchestration™ platform, but if you’re not an Ambition user, you can start by simply attaching a meeting agenda to your 1:1 calendar invite. Decide ahead of time to have reps fill out specific items on the agenda, such as calls they want to review with you, what they feel they did well since your last touchpoint, or feedback for you as their manager.
What’s the ideal cadence for one on ones? You should have a one on one each week with every rep. I manage 9 reps and meet with each one twice a week for 30 minutes at a time, which totals one hour per rep per week. I’ll explain more about how I break down these sessions below.
Most managers have 8-10 direct reports, which means the time-saving benefit of an agenda is huge. But even more important is the opportunity you have to create a sense of positive accountability with reps. When reps complete or address items on the agenda prior to the meeting, they are more engaged with their own development. It encourages them to do their own critical thinking and contribute in meaningful ways during a 1:1.
How to Structure a One on One Meeting
Depending on your role and the people you manage, the goals of your 1:1s might look different. However, you should accomplish two things during each one on one. The first is building trust and accountability with your reps. The second is to help them, whether that comes in the form of skill coaching, removing blockers, or strategizing on how to move a deal forward. Here is the basic framework I use to structure my one on one check-ins:
- Start with the human
Begin the meeting with a general check-in to find out how your reps are doing outside of work, what they’re looking forward to, and what’s going on in their lives. Reps want and need to know that you care about them as people.
- Identify short term goals
With your long-term goals in mind, discuss which short-term goals and activities reps need to accomplish within the coming week.
- Remove blockers
Find out what might prevent reps from achieving their short-term goals and strategize on how you can help them overcome those obstacles.
I run two types of 1:1s per week: weekly check-ins (outlined above) and call/account strategy coaching. During the call and account strategy coaching sessions, we spend more time working on tactical skills to help reps improve and make progress toward their goals. Here’s an example of how I structure those coaching sessions:
- Listen to recorded calls
Ask reps to attach calls they want to review into our check-in in Ambition, encourage them to identify what made those calls successful or unsuccessful, and coach accordingly from there.
- Build account plans
Map out the details of a rep’s key accounts. Who are the decision makers? Who are you competing with? What is our strategy to lock in this account and retain them?
- Roleplay to practice specific skills
Work with reps on skills like objection handling, moving stuck deals, negotiation, etc. This gives reps the opportunity to practice with you and get real-time coaching on specific skill sets.
Whether I’m checking in with a rep or coaching on specific skills, I incorporate the following three questions into each one on one:
- How are you doing outside of work?
- What’s something you learned last week or something you tried differently?
- How can I make your life easier?
Mid-month and at the end of each month, we also review KPIs holistically and pinpoint potential areas that the data tells us we need help with, all of which we can do with Coaching Orchestration. Not an Ambition user? Check out this free coaching template from my colleague and start running more consistent, metric-based coaching sessions.
Document and Provide Feedback During Your 1:1
59% of companies say that the top barrier to effective training is a lack of accountability. If reps aren’t held accountable to practicing and applying the skills they’ve learned, the likelihood of actually improving those skills is slim to none.
When you provide feedback during a one on one, document it in your agenda so you can hold reps (and yourself) accountable from week to week. I do this directly in Ambition with Action Items. Based on that day’s coaching or conversation, I can assign specific tasks or items for the rep to follow up on and complete before our next 1:1. This gives me visibility as a manager into rep activity, empowers reps to hold themselves accountable throughout the week, and keeps both of us aligned on expectations. At our next check-in or coaching/strategy session, we can refer back to those items and measure their progress over time.
Coaching should always be about your rep, but providing feedback should go both ways. Ask your reps what they need from you as a manager. Everyone learns differently and coaching is not one-size-fits-all. Find out how you can more effectively coach your people by asking them to provide feedback to you.
4 Tips for More Impactful and Efficient Coaching
Keeping reps engaged and in-seat means consistently investing in their development. Making the most of the time you have is the best way to ensure a productive coaching experience for everyone. Here’s how I strike the balance between high impact and high efficiency:
- Come prepared
Prior to the meeting, review relevant KPIs and align with reps on how you want to focus your time.
- Keep it simple
Focus on a single behavior or a single area of improvement.
- Be specific
In the spirit of simplicity, align with reps on a concise, achievable way to improve the skill or behavior you want to focus on.
- Make it actionable
Give reps a task or activity to complete so they can practice that skill or behavior and so you can measure their progress.