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Adapt. Pivot. Re-adjust. No matter what you call it, sales teams have done it in 2020. 

While the changing landscape of enterprise selling was ushered in more rapidly with pressure from the pandemic, the fact remains that the way buyers and sellers interact has changed. Another truth? We’re not going back anytime soon. In fact, according to one Bain & Company study on virtual selling, 80% of B2B buyers and sellers believe there will be a sustained increase in virtual interactions. 

The evolution of enterprise selling requires an evolution of every aspect of the sales process, including sales coaching. One of the most crucial interactions between managers and reps is the 1:1 and yet, most sales managers are still leaning on 1:1 strategies that are growing increasingly out of date as the enterprise selling motion continues to morph.

Change may be inevitable but it doesn’t mean it has to be hard. Take a look at these three simple tips for running your next 1:1 in this “new normal”.

  1. Change Your Meeting Time: 20 is the new 30 

Turns out, video conferencing fatigue is a real thing and it’s safe to assume that your reps have been feeling its effects.

One way to lighten the load is to shorten your 1:1 times to reflect either 20 mins for half-hour sessions or 45 mins for hour ones. That small gap in between meetings lets reps step away from their screen, digest what was said, and reset before they hop on their next call. 

Shorter meeting times will also force focus (in a good way) in the conversation on the highest value areas for the rep and the business rather than spending time on information that could otherwise be answered by your tools in place. 

  1. Recenter 1:1s on the Sphere of Influence

While a shorter 1:1 doesn’t mean a lower quality meeting, it does mean that 1:1s moving forward need to be treated as true strategy and execution sessions. Of course, agreeing on what 1:1s should be doesn’t always translate into how they’re actually run. 

Traditionally speaking, managers tend to over-index on two types of deals: ones on track and ones that have run off the rails. The problem with this approach is that in either case, those deals are oftentimes already too far along for managers to have any meaningful impact on their outcome. 

Rather than focusing on either of those camps, managers need to draw their attention to the ‘sphere of influence’ deals their reps are working on—the ones that haven’t yet had their destiny defined. It’s here that frontline sales managers can have the biggest impact to deal outcomes or rep behavior because they’re reaching them just at the right time.

  1. Ask Preview Questions not Review Questions

Nothing makes or breaks a 1:1 like the types of questions managers bring to the table. While shorter meeting times help focus managers and rep on what’s most important, managers still need to know how to start the conversation in the right direction. This is where review vs. preview questions come into play.

Where ‘review’ type questions ask. “what happened, with who?”, preview type questions ask about what can be done next to move deals forward. Some examples include:

  • “I see you’re meeting with Kelly for the 3rd time next week, what’s the agenda and how can I help?”
  • “It looks like we’ve been stuck in a Proof of Concept with Company A for the past four weeks, and there are no scheduled next steps, how can I help move things along?”
  • “I saw you’ve met with the Economic Buyer and Champion at Account X, that’s awesome! Where do you feel our blindspot in the account is?”

By asking preview questions that focus on the future state rather than revisiting the past, managers and reps have far more control over the outcome of their deals.

Coaching Sales Teams with Leading Indicators 

While these tips are just a few examples of the ways sales managers can address the evolving landscape of enterprise selling, it doesn’t change the fact that no matter how long your 1:1s are or the deals you focus on, operating with only a fraction of the information doesn’t work.

Having full visibility into where reps spend their time, who they’re spending it with, and the context of those interactions are all crucial details that are frequently missing from CRMs and ultimately, the 1:1. 

Arming sales organizations with those insights won’t just help managers know exactly where and how they can effectively coach reps but it gives teams a completely new understanding of what it takes to run their business and the activities that consistently produce desired results. 

To learn more about driving predictable revenue in anything but a predictable sales landscape, check out our ebook on the Power of Managing with Leading Indicators