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Does Your Sales Team Trust You?

Posted by: Jimmy Bower
30/05/2018

Sales professionals don’t just need to have great negotiation and closing skills; they need to have bags of enthusiasm for the job and self motivation coming out of their ears in order to be successful at what they do.

Finding leads, picking up the phone to speak to total strangers and constant pressure to hit targets takes self discipline and is why so many people fail.

Yes, recruiting good sales people, training and developing them and providing progression plans is all very important, but an even more vital element is the trust between a Sales Director their team.

It’s no secret that sales environments are high pressure, intense, competitive and at times very stressful, especially if you’re falling short of targets. But is this pressure leading to behaviours that are destroying crucial employee trust?

In general, a big downfall of Sales Directors is a lack of patience; trust takes time to build. You want numbers, and you want them now! But hang on a minute here, your sales professional may not be performing, but don’t automatically assume it’s because they are lazy or that they don’t care enough and they are not working hard. Has your sales professional had the right training, do they need guidance on how to approach a difficult task, are they a bit lost? Nurturing and supporting is the first point of call for any manager before making any accusations.

Are you being consistent? Consistency is arguably the biggest factor in building trust. Employees notice constant day-to-day flip-flopping between treatment of staff, processes and actions and they will remember it. Inconsistency creates impressions of in-authenticity and this will only led to employees claiming cases of favouritism and lack of integrity.

If you’re one for making sweeping statements and promises without much thought, then stop. Often promises made without genuine consideration of what the promise may mean in the long run or without the bigger picture in mind, have to be re-addressed and amended. Doing this, especially around bonuses or progression plans will only serve to cause serve mistrust when telling the employee about anything else similar in the future. It is also likely that it will leave a bad taste lingering and the employee will remember it for the foreseeable future and feel let down by you.

Don’t preach accountability if you don’t fully practice it yourself. Shying away from your own mistakes or entirely pushing the blame onto someone else for a problem means that your employees will probably use the same tactic for their own shortcomings, which in turn will frustrate you. Instead, be completely transparent because after all isn’t that what you’re trying to achieve with them? Showing your employees that you are aware of your own errors and that you regret them and have learned from them will encourage respect from your team for your honesty. If you own up, then your employees will see that it is OK to make genuine mistakes and will be truthful about their own errors. In these instances, show support and understanding when communicating the facts about problems whilst also being sensitive to their efforts.

Watch your own behaviour. Ensure that you are practicing what you preach, if you say that teamwork is important, reinforce this by working across the teams; if you say numbers are important, reinforce by getting on the phone and contributing. Your team will be impressed that you are willing to get stuck into the hard work with them and will trust that you too will understand any difficulties they face. Don’t allow a disconnect between what you say and what you do because people will copy your behaviour good or bad rather than act on your instructions, it’s just human nature.

Don’t make your team walk on eggshells around you. Yes, sometimes employees need a bit of reality check when it comes to performance but if a bad day translates into yelling and pessimism it isn’t going to result in best outcome and will probably make your team feel more disheartened. Instead, when addressing low performance, explain the situation clearly but speak positively, motivate and reinforce the objectives necessary to turn it around. Listening to your employees and not just telling them what to do is an important part of working effectively together. Don’t just steamroll ideas at them – talk solutions through and let them be part of the decision on how to achieve a goal.

Trust underpins a good working employer – employee relationship. By building trust managers can achieve significant improvements in performance and engagement. Vice versa, losing that trust will led to performance and engagement problems. Team members will feel uncomfortable addressing issues because they are unsure of how you might react. If your employees trust you they will have confidence in your decisions and believe in what you are saying. Even in uncertain times, this trust will influence your leadership ability.

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