Have the conversation

The other day I had the privilege of witnessing a sales leader sharing a story with newer sales leaders about a difficult conversation he had early on in his career. 

 

He was 3 weeks into the leaders role and the person he needed to “have the conversation” with was about 20 years his senior, had been in the role nearly as long and was related to one of the directors.  She wasn’t performing.  And, hadn’t been for a time.  It needed to be addressed.

So he did.

What he learnt however, were a couple of gems of insight that he’s now brought forward into other “conversations he has to have”, and I think they’re worth sharing here.

 

ONE: Frame the conversation

When you have a great working relationship with someone having “the conversation” can be tough.  A simple phrase like: “I’m putting my managers hat on now” helps to frame what’s about to be discussed.  It enables context to be set quickly and clearly.  Both parties know it’s probably about performance, and probably about the need for improvement.

 

TWO: Check for understanding

This leader thought his message about the number of weekly sales required was clear – 3.  But like so many of us in the sales role, if anything is unclear, we can change the reality back to something less direct: “He said 3 a week” goes to “I think he said 3 a week” goes to “did he say 3 a week”?

Something so clear can unravel quickly so we need to check whilst in the meeting

 

THREE: Follow up

Checking back in to see how action aligns with the need for change helps to reinforce it as an accountability point.  Assuming someone will simply take the new action is folly and sets all parties up to not succeed.  Check in, use evidence to clarify, confirm direction and set new action.  That way, a quick next step can be identified in time.

 

FOUR: Always do what’s best for that person

Sometimes, despite someone’s best efforts they’re simply not in the right role or organisation.  They have great skills in other areas.  In this case, this person was not a salesperson.  She needed to accept that and move on (which she has into a highly successful marketing career). Trying to make square pegs fit round holes is futile.  That also means the leader has to rise above the situation to make some tough calls.

 

FIVE: But have the conversation!

Avoidance prolongs issues, can even exacerbate them and undermines those who are performing well.  Having the conversation nips issues in the bud.  Develop the skills to have them and have them.

 

“Having the conversation” liberates everyone back into reality and what’s required.  It’s bigger than any one person’s ego and part of strong communication.

View our other posts

Are you someone who just breathes in?

When I first heard someone say this, I loved it because it says it all!    Are you someone who simply sucks the air in, or are you someone who contributes? I’ve written a lot lately about the obvious difficulties we’re experiencing, selling remotely in a market...

I’m not a salesperson – why this isn’t helping

It’s getting tired actually.    I mean, how deluded are we when we’re responsible for driving any of the following and not join the dots to selling: Memberships Clients Revenue Sales Donations Corporate partners Retention Services Subscriptions Participants...

Is it time to readjust your sales force?

With changes to markets, and so much disruption going on, it is inevitable that companies are looking to the levers they can utilise to maximise revenue, and reduce costs so they can respond well now and place themselves in a stronger position going forward.  ...

The antidote to uncertainty

It’s everywhere…and for good reason.  Uncertainty.  What will the future be like?  How will it impact our business/our team/our customers/me?  What do I need to do to be ready for it?  What do I need to do today? When we don’t have certainty we create it for...

Sales Teams Need Strong Leaders

In workplaces, schools, businesses, politics, communities we look to leaders for strength, truth, hope and a clear path forward.    This couldn’t be more important for businesses everywhere than it is right now.  The right leadership will rally teams together in...

Getting Back Up

How many times can a person be struck down before they just can’t bring themselves to get back up?  We each have a breaking point.    There are superhumans who have a well of inner resourcefulness they draw upon that keeps them internally strong when all about...

Truth

  We know when we hear it.  We sure know when we don’t.  Conveying it without brutality however, is a skill worth cultivating. It’s not acceptable to simply vomit truth bombs on others without any regard for that person’s feelings, experiences or context, and...

Courage

Have you ever woken up at 2am in a sweat?  Filled with anxiety and pacing the floor?  Have you walked around in your pjs in the wee small hours, looking into the fridge, not really knowing why, but hoping the answer will jump out yet at the same time, knowing it...

Have the conversation

The other day I had the privilege of witnessing a sales leader sharing a story with newer sales leaders about a difficult conversation he had early on in his career.    He was 3 weeks into the leaders role and the person he needed to “have the conversation” with...

Belief: what to do when your team doesn’t have it

You may already know that I work with a number of sales teams across a range of industries and regions.  From time to time I come across teams that don’t believe in either their product/service or that their target is possible to achieve.  It might be understandable. ...