7 Steps to Handle Difficult Conversations with Your Salespeople

7 STEPS TO HANDLE DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR SALESPEOPLE bear bull co consulting more sales less turnover

It’s easy to assume that all a sales manager cares about is posting good numbers. Sales production is just the tip of the iceberg. What isn’t visible is all the hard work being done behind the scenes. Managing a team of salespeople requires a lot of training, adjustments, understanding, and patience.

Part of leading a team is being able to handle difficult conversations. Each member of the team has their own unique personality. If you use the same approach with everyone, it can create animosity and poor sales performance.

Let’s review 7 different ways to handle difficult conversations with your salespeople.

1. Addressing Them By Name

People love hearing their name. Using their name while you are talking to them is a way of showing respect. Sprinkle in their name throughout the conversation. This is also an excellent way to reign in your team member if they begin to become distracted.  Do not overdo it or it may come off as condescending or manipulative.

2. Show Them you Care

It has been said that people don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care. Poor performance can be the result of a lot of things happening inside and outside the office. Find out if there has been any dramatic changes in their personal lives that might have impacted their sales.

3. Actively Listen

Sales managers are not therapists by any stretch of the imagination, but genuinely listening can go a long way. Watch for cues about what they say to better understand why they’re behaving or feel a certain way.



4. Do Not Interrupt

Most heated debates can be avoided by letting one party speak uninterrupted. You don’t have to agree with the other person, but have the courtesy to let them finish. In many cases after someone has vented, they come to their own realization that what they may be upset over isn’t worth discussing.

5. Avoid Conflict Words

Did you know that saying words such as “Never”, “No”, “Wrong” and “No way” may increase conflict? Try to acknowledge their point of view before disagreeing immediately.

You might say “That sounds interesting. What makes you think that way?” or “Seems like a plan.  I want to know more about your idea.”

Lastly, make it a habit to replace the word “but” with “and” when rebutting. Notice how different the following sentence sounds when you do this: “I know you like offering discounts to your clients, but you need my authorization first.”

6. Establish Facts

Before the words “You are wrong.” or “You made a mistake.” leave your lips, it is important that you establish the facts. Numbers are very easy to reference. Lean on them for documentation to support your position. Salespeople are persuasive and can appeal to your emotions. There is a time to trust your gut, and there are moments where the facts speak for themselves.

7. Create a Plan of Action Together

What good is a fierce conversation if there isn’t any closure? It is imperative that you and your team member identify the challenges that are stifling their productivity, and end the discussion with a checklist of items to take action on.

This homework must also include a due date and a mandatory check in. Everyone must be held accountable including management, hence the check in. We inspect what we expect.

Conflicts and misunderstandings will happen from time to time. Handling difficult conversations isn’t easy, but it is necessary. Brooding over how to handle a situation is just like watching a wound fester. Great leaders address these conversations quickly and professionally using the techniques described above.


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