Like the sales meeting, the one-on-one meeting is something for many salespeople that they fear. Often this means that you will be forced to face the facts by your manager and it can be unpleasant. Especially if things aren’t going too well and you’ve had a bad week. These one-on-one meetings, like the sales meeting, are actually a fantastic opportunity to highlight your work and performance. It’s an excellent opportunity to further strengthen your personal brand. In this article I will explain you why and give you tips how you can make the most out of that meeting with your manager.
To have a successful meeting, it is very important to prepare well in advance. That you have already determined in advance, what you want to get out of the meeting in terms of results.
- What is the goal?
- Do you want to defend the backlog of sales targets?
- Do you want to receive more support so that you can visit even more customers?
- Do you want more responsibilities and work on bigger opportunities?
- Do you want to discuss your activities and perhaps be less frequent in the office?
Your manager will almost always present the one-on-one meetings to you as a moment when he wants to help you, how you can become even more successful. In reality, the one-on-one meeting is an additional control mechanism for your manager. It’s the time for many managers to micro-manage you. But also to check that you are working effectively and efficiently. Your manager wants to be able to see exactly what you’re doing.
It’s also your manager’s favorite moment to criticize and adjust. Even if everything goes perfectly and there is no need for adjustment at all, or if there is really no reason for criticism at all! You better prepare for it to happen anyway! After all, most managers have a huge intrinsic need to constantly control you. They find it necessary to criticize and adjust you, because everything has to fit within the ideal picture that they have in mind.
Many managers will try to change you during the one-on-one meetings. They want to turn you into an ideal person and type of employee. Often they will mention certain personal characteristics that they want you to learn more. For example, that you have to be much more social. That you should be less selfish. That you need to become more of a team player and have to “socially bond” with colleagues and adopt a different attitude towards your customers. Also that you have to be much more assertive and tougher, when in fact this doesn’t suit your character and personality at all!
Don’t fall into this trap and always stay yourself…. never change your own unique personality!
Therefore, remember that you can always listen to criticism. Learn to get exactly that out of it that is useful. Remember that you should never change your unique personality, for the sake of a manager who feels that you don’t fit the ideal picture. The ideal picture, as only he envisions, to meet his ideal type of salesperson.
This is really the worst thing you can do! Why?
First, your own unique personality is the only thing that still differentiates you from all other internal and external competitors. Second, it’s just another manager with a certain idea in his head. He’s only a person who’s temporarily in that position. The next manager certainly has another ideal picture in his head and the manager who comes next again.
No one is perfect. The fact is, however, that people buy from other people because of trust in the person you are. Therefore, don’t let yourself be influenced and certainly do not change who you are! Acting and pretending to be different from who you really are will always hurt you sooner or later. These are big points of annoyance that customers really won’t appreciate.
Dealing with criticism from your manager
It’s incredibly important that you realize this, so that you learn to subtly play this game with your manager. You’ll need some practice and experience. But you will see that things are getting better with time! Learn to accept criticism, even if it’s not about anything. Try to play along and see it as constructive criticism. Thank your manager for this and tell him that you will apply this directly in practice. If there is really useful feedback and criticism, then you should definitely do so.
In all other cases, I say, “Just one ear in and out the other.” Throw that useless criticism right in the trash and don’t worry about it anymore, because most managers are just shouting.
They have already forgotten this the next meeting because of all the hustle and bustle and dynamics in the office. Often they only shout something to assert themselves and feel relevant. You can also see that the managers want to criticize and micro-manage those who are most successful. They are the most successful account managers and business developers who don’t really need any guidance at all.
So why do these managers keep doing this?
- Most managers see these successful team members as a threat.
- They want to try to control these successful team members as much as possible.
- Through control and micro-management, the manager can demonstrate internally that all successes are directly related to his own policies and skills.
Your manager’s biggest fear is that his team is successful, without direct reference to his own policies. Your manager’s greatest fear is to become redundant, putting his role and prestige at risk!
I’m going to give you some useful practical tips. The goal of these tips is to always strengthen your personal brand and image, so that your manager can see that you are a very strong member of his team. A person he can rely on and who he can give more freedom and flexibility. Without having to constantly answer for what you’re doing or what your agenda looks like.
• Open your calendar in Outlook and share it with your manager. Tell him you want him to see what you’re doing. This is your chance to actually put everything in your Outlook calendar! Not only appointments, but also quotes you’re working on and phone calls you’ve scheduled. Fill it up completely, without exaggerating. Your manager sees that you have nothing to hide. This also makes it easier to fill in certain blocks that you are working on at home. By opening your calendar, you create trust and maximum freedom.
• During your one-on-one, discuss the most important developments in the market. Think, for example, of opportunities and threats you’ve heard from customers. Always emphasize that sharing this kind of information is very important. You want the team and the company to be able to take full advantage of it.
• Discuss initiatives and ideas on how you could increase customer satisfaction as a team. Introduce ideas on how to retain customers and how to increase revenue from existing customers. You’ll probably soon find that with these kinds of topics, you’ll instantly differentiate yourself from the standard topics, such as your calendar and your activities this week. And that’s what it’s about: You take the one-on-one conversations to the next level.
• Ask open questions and ask how your manager is doing. How you can help him make the team more successful and his role easier.
• Include other departments, such as operations, marketing and finance. Think about how you can contribute to a better cooperation between these departments. Ask those questions to the other departments. It shows that you are 100% involved and don’t just think about sales and your bonuses. Sales managers think this is fantastic, because they get the compliments back from these other departments publicly during their management meetings.
• Ask for feedback and tips from your manager so you can get even better and learn from his hopefully rich experience! In doing so, recognize the seniority of your manager and stroke his ego! This works really well.
• Make sure you’ve always prepared the most important opportunities. Know the main opportunities and threat. Make sure you keep getting the next step. Make sure you’ve mapped the DMU properly.
• Involve your manager in time for all the important decisions you need to make. Ask in advance for his opinion and what he advises. Make sure you agree together on what the next step in the most important opportunities will be. Take advantage of his knowledge and experience and don’t try to do everything alone!
• Invite your manager to your most important meetings with current or potential clients. Don’t try to prevent this, because it’s important that your manager also meets customers. A manager should be able to tell his supervisor who he has already met. Customers appreciate a senior manager coming to the appointment. It shows that you are both very serious about the customer relationship and respect the contact.
• Remind your manager frequently of the advice he has given you before in other one-on-one meetings. Tell him how that helped you become more successful. How it helped you work better. Give him compliments and thank him for his good advice. He will appreciate this!
• Do you need something to do your job better, or do you want more support and flexibility? Then try to link your need to how this will contribute to achieving the goals faster. This can be about your individual goals, but even better if you link them to the company’s objectives. For example, would you like a lease car? Explain this by stressing that you can make three times as many appointments and therefore you can find and close three times as many opportunities. This makes it much easier for your manager to start an internal business case and seek approval for this.
• During the one-on-one meetings, talk extensively, proudly and passionately about your successes! Be an absolute optimist, full of enthusiasm. This will greatly enhance your image and your manager will love it. The more you think you’re great and successful, the more success you’ll automatically draw to you like a magnet! By appearing extremely confident, you also get more opportunities from your manager and possibly much bigger opportunities to work on. No manager wants to share precious leads with insecure introverts!
• A big ego in the workplace is good, but be careful in the one-on-one meetings. This is especially the manager’s time to talk and coach you. If you have too big an ego, keep arguing and questioning everything your manager says, then this can be very damaging to your relationship. So in the office and in everyday life full throttle forward, but during the 1-on-1 with your manager out of respect a step back and a moment on the brake.
• Try to identify problems in your business and then look at how you could set up those processes more efficiently. Discuss these creative solutions with your manager.
• Be a volunteer more often and the first to say YES, if your manager is looking for participants for a particular conference, for example. By showing initiative more often and volunteering, you get more appreciation from your manager. This also makes it easier for you to say no in the future if your manager asks you something and it is absolutely not convenient for you at that time.
• Have you helped a colleague and asked you if he can give back and do something for you? Then ask if he can put in a good word for you with the manager. Tell him that this would help you so much, because your manager will have a little more insight into your work.
• Try the same with customers who are very satisfied. Ask them to make this known to your manager. If your manager hears from other people that they are so satisfied with your work, then this is very good for your personal brand, image and your assessment. It’s going to help you negotiate a higher salary. The more compliments your manager receives, the better for his image. This is the sign for everyone in the company that everything is going very well within his team.
If you manage to apply these tips successfully, you will see that this will quickly yield a lot of great results and that the one-on-one meeting together with your manager is a fantastic opportunity. Every week!
While other colleagues are always reluctant to start the one-on-one meetings, you make the most of it! You create a fantastically strong relationship with your manager. A relationship that gets you done a lot more. You quickly become your manager’s favorite employee and the “Go-To Guy” for all the important leads and big opportunities.
By treating the one-on-one meetings as a strategic opportunity and game, you negotiate a higher salary, earn more money and get more and more responsibilities. You will make sure that you become an indispensable member of the sales team and the confidant of your manager!
This is an excerpt from the book “The corporate sales winners guide: Transform your life and become a top sales performer” by Gerrit Jan de Vries. View the ebook and the paperback version on Amazon.