Do you have a culture of trust within your sales organization? Many companies, and managers within those companies, pride themselves on having an "open door policy." In other words, their employees can come to them at any time with work-related issues, and expect to be heard.
An open door policy is a great thing. And guess what? If your sales team is bringing up issues to you as the sales leader, that means the open door culture you've created is working. Because you've taken the lead in staying open to feedback, your team trusts you. They feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and issues with you — and hopefully with each other.
But here's the thing. You've got to do more than passively listen to your sales team's feedback. In order to build a trust culture, you have to actively listen. And then you have to act. If you fail to follow through, you may end up doing irreparable damage to your culture of collaboration — and to the trust you've built up with your employees.
Here are three basic steps you can follow to address issues that are important to your sales team in a decisive, empathetic and effective way.
1. Generate a Trust Culture by Creating a Space for Feedback
The best way to get feedback from your team is to ask for it. But it's not enough to simply ask. You have to demonstrate, over a period of time, that you're willing to really hear them out, and not take feedback or criticism personally.
In fact, the feedback you receive by simply asking could change your entire approach to team building, the workplace environment, and even your management style.
It's important to remember that your basic job as a sales manager is to help your team members become the best reps they can be. You're there to support them, mentor them, and even befriend them. When you prove to your team day in and day out that you're interested in them as people, they'll be much more willing to come to you with their issues.
2. Actively Listen to Understand
Once a team member comes to you with an issue he or she is having, it's time to really drill down to the core of the problem. Building a trust culture requires active listening.
We're not just talking about techniques like repeating your team member's statements back to him or her in your own words (although techniques like this are helpful). We're talking about making absolutely sure you understand what the issue is. Why is it affecting your rep? How does it impact your team as a whole?
Then, when you have a firm grasp on the issue, reassure your team member that you know where he or she is coming from. If you've faced a similar challenge in the past, perhaps you could mention that as well. And then it's time to transition to step #3...
3. Outline What You Plan to Do, and Follow Through
"Talk is cheap." "Actions speak louder than words." Pick any cliché you want. They're all true. If you truly want your sales rep to feel valued, highly motivated, and part of a team, then you need to clearly communicate what you're going to do about this issue.
You don't have to give out all the details. Just provide a basic outline of the next steps you plan to take. If at all possible, provide a rough timeline of when he or she can expect a resolution.
Obviously, the more mission-critical the issue is, the faster you should address it. However, don't let "minor issues" fall to the wayside. A minor issue may not be urgent on an organizational level, but it was still important enough to the rep that he or she approached you to talk about it. Not following through will damage the trust culture you've worked hard to build.
If you want your team to stay focused, to feel valued, and to give your company their best, then stick to this three-step process no matter how big or small the issue may be. For more insights on how to be the best sales manager you can be, be sure to sign up for our newsletter, contact us, or explore the valuable resources on our website.