How to structure your 1:1s to make them more productive (and enjoyable)

Posted January 9, 2020

By Audrey Weber

Associate Content Editor at Outreach

Do you look forward to your 1:1s with your sales reps? Even more importantly, do your reps look forward to their 1:1s with you?

Quality 1:1s are necessary for your sales reps to be productive and grow in their careers as salespeople. When done correctly, 1:1s should be a highlight of their week.

But making sure your 1:1s don’t feel like a trip to the dentist requires consistency, coaching, and lots of preparation. To make your reps more productive and help your reps do their best work, here are some tips on how to structure your 1:1s to be successful for both of you.

Be consistent

Most experts agree that it’s best to have 1:1s at the beginning of the week and first thing in the morning. This allows your reps to focus on putting their new lessons into practice throughout their day and week, rather than worrying that they’re doing something wrong. However, the most important part is not what day you meet, but that you meet consistently at the same day and time every week. This gives the meeting a sense of formality and allows your rep to come prepared instead of worrying about when the next meeting will be, like a pop quiz.

Prepare ahead of time

It’s extremely important that you have a plan before every 1:1. Be prepared with specific questions and topics to keep the 1:1 focused and on-track. Put your plan into writing and send it to your rep before the meeting, and encourage them to make a plan and send it to you as well. This will make the meeting feel like a collaborative effort where you and your rep are both working towards the same goal, and helps ensure your rep comes prepared for the meeting.

The success of a 1:1 depends on both manager and rep working together to solve a problem and improve. If either of you is underprepared, or unwilling to work, then the meeting won’t have the desired effect. In your pre-meeting email, explain what data or information the rep should bring with them.

When scheduling your 1:1s, it's a good idea to block out slightly more time than the meeting will actually take. You’ll want some time afterward to document the meeting, reflect, and schedule next steps. Use this time to create a shared action plan after each meeting that details your rep’s takeaways and goals are moving forward.

Go beyond metrics

The most common question about 1:1s is: which evaluation metrics are most important? Quota fulfillment? Meetings booked? Deals closed? The answer: it depends on you, your rep, and your goal. This may seem unsatisfying, but the main thing to remember is don’t mistake the forest from the trees.

Metrics are important, but they don’t tell you the whole story. Evaluate your rep holistically, and go beyond the metrics (whether good or bad) to see how your rep is doing personally and professionally.

Poor metrics can mean a rep isn’t performing well, but there can also be a deeper issue that needs addressing. Ask open-ended questions to get to the heart of what’s going on with your reps.

Work with your rep to work out daily success indicators. Break down large, quarterly metrics into daily tasks that will keep them on track and moving towards their quota, and then go over these in your weekly 1:1.

Be attentive

Be present during your 1:1s. Make sure you stay off your phone and are attentive during the entire meeting. Being on your phone or checking emails can make your rep feel unimportant, and devalues the meeting, and can signal that you aren’t taking the meeting seriously and that they shouldn’t either.

Remember, this is a collaborative process. Think of the 1:1 as an investment. The more you invest in your reps, the more they’ll invest their time and effort into your organization.


After the 1:1, follow up with an email detailing the meeting, the next steps, and the action plan you worked out with your rep. Alternatively, you can ask them to do this recap themselves and then send it to you. This saves you time and can be an excellent way to help reps take ownership of the 1:1 and remember the lessons learned.

If you write the follow-up email, ask for feedback on your 1:1, and then listen to your reps. The 1:1 is only a success if it’s a success for both of you. If your coaching style isn’t helping your reps, then you need to find out how to improve and adapt.

Create a Coaching Culture

Your goal is to create a culture where 1:1 meetings are about growth, not about performance. Think of them as mini-coaching sessions, so instead of just telling them something like, “you’re not booking enough meetings,” you work with them to come up with a plan to fix it.

Creating a culture of coaching will reduce the stress and dread surrounding 1:1s for your reps. 1:1s can be an exercise that your reps look forward to if they see it as an opportunity to grow and solve their biggest problems rather than a performance meeting where their job is on the chopping block.

Creating a better 1:1 culture isn’t easy, but Outreach can make it easier. We make it easy to track and analyze metrics with your reps, and can automate a lot of the leg-work required from you and your reps when preparing for a 1:1 which allows you to focus on what matters: helping your rep improve.


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