Establishing Data-Driven 1:1s as a Sales Manager

Being a data-driven sales manager means, at a high level, understanding how metrics impact one another, how to approach setting goals against key performance indicators (KPIs), and how to coach to the achievement of those goals. Where the rubber really meets the road, though, is how a manager incorporates data into her ongoing managerial cadences. The most impactful place to do this is in weekly 1:1 meetings.

What Data Do You Need?

Incorporating data into your 1:1 meetings with your reps starts with determining what information you need in order to have a productive conversation.

Here’s an approach to help you determine what you most need to know:

  1. Document the key topics you want to cover on your agenda.
  2. Define what questions you are trying to answer within each topic.
  3. Identify the pieces of data most important to be able to answer those questions.

Here’s an example of what this might look like (and here is a downloadable data-driven 1:1 template):

Make the Data Accessible

The data points identified in the third step, which appear in the far right column in the example above, are the ones that need to be accessible on an ongoing basis and reviewed in preparation for each 1:1 meeting. The most common method of making data like this available is by building a dashboard in Salesforce or in the sales analytics or reporting software used in your organization (like we make here at Atrium).

That dashboard can then be shared with reps and linked in recurring meeting invites for the 1:1 itself and for the preparation time that you have scheduled on your own calendar in advance of the meeting, so that it’s always available and easy to find. Similarly, if you keep a Google Doc or other 1:1 template somewhere that is completed for each meeting, you can link the dashboard at the top of that document as well.

Preparing for the Meeting

Once you have a clear agenda, and a dashboard set up so that you have the data to inform that agenda, making the meeting as productive as possible then comes down to preparation, each and every week. First, you should assign ownership to specific agenda items. As the manager, you are ultimately responsible for making sure this meeting is productive, but many organizations have the sales reps own key areas of preparation for the meeting, including being responsible for bringing data about their own performance to the meeting, or having a portion of the agenda solely dedicated to concerns the rep has or topic areas they want to discuss. It’s important to make sure that it’s clear who is responsible for what pieces of preparation in advance of the meeting and who will be driving different pieces of the agenda.

With that structure in place, the remaining hurdle is time. The best way I’ve found to ensure time is available to prep for 1:1s is to make that preparation time its own block on my calendar, so that time can’t be eaten up by other priorities – often you can prep for multiple 1:1s that will be held in a given day in a single time block at the beginning of the day. That preparation time can be used to go through a metrics inspection using those saved reports and dashboards, or items that the rep has brought to the agenda, so that you can walk into the meeting already having a clear sense of what areas you need to discuss and what specific coaching points you need to cover.

Repeat the Cycle

Points covered in the 1:1 meeting will often have associated follow-up and next steps. Be specific about what those are, including the timing to complete, who is owning that next step and when you’ll check in on it again. With that clarity, you can then add the follow-up to the agenda for future meetings and ensure that the reinforcement cycle of data-driven coaching and proactive follow-up continues.

In future meetings, you can check in on those metrics you identified as wanting to impact in previous meetings, watch for new indicators of success that can offer learning opportunities across the team, and monitor for the next area of coaching and development.

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