Why Sales Managers Should Shun the Rule of 10


Sales managers who follow the rule of 10 for one-​on-​one meetings with their sales reps may be missing a major opportunity to boost reps’ productivity, sales and morale. The old-​school rule allows for 10 minutes to discuss the rep. This includes 10 minutes to discuss you and 10 minutes to discuss the future. That rule appears to be an easy-​to-​follow layout for a productive meeting with a sales rep. However, when examined deeper, this strategy leaves much to be accomplished, according to a recent article on the Lighthouse blog.

The Rule of 10's Flaws

For starters, 10 minutes is not nearly enough time to have a well-​rounded, productive discussion with a sales rep. You won't be able to learn about any issues, worries or concerns they are having. If a rep is only given 10 minutes to discuss themselves, they are likely to only bring up trivial issues rather than delving into more serious concerns.

Additionally, many managers will focus on “status updates.” This means they'll be asking the rep what they have recently worked on, who they have called, and so forth. These updates do nothing to showcase the value of the rep’s work. And finally, the article notes that the rule of 10 only amounts to a total of 30 minutes of discussion. Often, major talking points are not brought to light until 25 minutes into a one-​on-​one meeting. This means that the sales manager has to wrap up the conversation before any resolution is made.

What to do Instead

Instead of following the rule of 10, Lighthouse suggests alternative tips for meetings with sales reps, including these two:

  1. Set aside an hour. A full 60 minutes of designated meeting time will leave enough wiggle room to delve deeply into any issues. Increased meeting time will also remove any time-​induced pressure for both the sales manager and the rep. “If you can’t make time for everyone for an hour every week, an hour every two weeks is better than 30 minutes every week; much of the value of a great one-​on-​one is in going deep on critical subjects, which means you need to have enough time to do so,” according to the article.
  2. Ask great questions and have follow-​up questions ready. A great sales manager asks great questions. And these one-​on-​one meetings with reps are the perfect time to get curious and inquisitive. Questions can open up dialogue and bring insight into the rep, the sales team, and you, the manager. Our research shows that reps feel valued when managers listen.

When it comes down to it, no sales manager is going to root out and solve issues in only 30 minutes with each rep using the rule of 10. As the article states, “with just a few small tweaks to your approach to one-​on-​ones, you can see a tremendous improvement in your relationship with your team, their growth, and their motivation.” By giving each sales rep more time, you are making a big investment in your sales team and company.

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.