When it comes to sales management, it's funny to think about how many “no win” situations managers can get sucked into. These can lead to difficult conversations, and we’ve all been there.
For example, employees often complain about how their manager didn’t train them on “something.” Yet when the manager schedules a formal training, those same employees complain about losing valuable selling time.
Another example revolves around the idea of micromanagement. The employee who at first complains about needing space, will later turn around and accuse the manager of “spending time with everyone else but me.”
Although some members of the sales management team may take an aggressive, “I’m the boss,” type of approach, there's a better way to handle these difficult conversations.
I suggest the manager tackle these issues in three simple steps.
3 Steps to Tackle Difficult Sales Management Situations
Listen closely and let the employee clearly explain his or her point of view. As the manager, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with the issue or not. Instead, control your emotions and resist the urge to fight back.
This will allow your team member to know s/he is being heard, that you value what s/he has to say, and that you are committed to finding a solution.
Request specific examples and ask genuine, clarifying questions. If the employee provides examples, you now have something to work from.
On the other hand, if the employee says, “Well, I can’t really think of any examples,” then ask the employee to think about it and come back later with some specifics.
3. Move Forward
This is where the conversation comes to a head. The sales manager brings everything full circle. It’s a very simple question that will put everything in perspective for both parties.
Ask the employee: “What would you like to see happen?”
Your team member will either have a suggestion, or s/he won’t. If s/he provides a reasonable request, go with it! If it is unreasonable, have him or her come up with a solution that fits the mutually desired outcome.
This process allows the manager to maintain their leadership position, while giving the employee an opportunity to be heard. Over time, you will build a culture of trust, understanding, and clear expectations.
You don’t have to dominate your employees, you just have to talk to them!