3 Surefire Ways to Reduce Conflict on Your Sales Team

reduce-sales-team-conflictDo you have sales reps that tense up when you walk into the room? How about flare up? Are you frustrated because of their excessive phone calls, emails, and texts?

These issues, and many others, can cause conflict within a sales team and negatively impact performance. No two sales reps are exactly alike, yet most sales leaders tend to communicate with everyone on their team in nearly identical fashion. Some respond well, others don’t. One of the best ways to improve communication between you and your reps is to share with them your communication style and expectations for how you conduct business internally. You also want to learn the same information about your reps and what they want from you.

Here are 3 topics to discuss with your sales reps to improve communication:

  1. The best way to communicate with me. What is your personality style? Extrovert? Introvert? What about your sales reps? You need to know your style and your sales reps style to identify the best ways to communicate with each other. What type of email do you prefer? No more than 3 bullets or “all the facts”? In short, communicate how you want your salespeople to communicate with you. Likewise, you’ll get better performance from them if they tell you the same.What to avoid when communicating with me. What are the things you do not want your sales reps to do when communicating with you? This can be face-to-face, over the phone, email, text, in a sales meeting, or on a sales call. Again, be clear about what you don’t want them to do.
  2. How about your sales reps? Do some salespeople take a long time getting to the point, which annoys you? Do others prefer that you lead into bad news with a “softener”? One rep might dislike excessive detail where another prefers the whole story. Some have very established comfort zones for distance, volume, or physical contact that a good sales manager will not lightly dismiss. Some salespeople don’t want to be rushed and want time to think before responding in conversations with you.
  3. The “Call / Do Not Call” list. Once a new sales rep is up to speed, both of you need to understand what issues you will help them with and what your sales rep should resolve on their own. You need to create a “Call/Do Not Call” list.

Make a two-column chart. Above the left column write the word, “Call”. Above the right column, write “Do Not Call”. Then fill in both columns with items that you either do or do not want them to contact you in reference to. You need to clarify that Do Not Call also means – no email, no text, etc. In other words, handle it yourself.

Think about the time you spend responding to sales reps. For example, if one sales rep calls you, on average, three times a day on “Do Not Call” topics—and your other nine reps on the team do the same—that’s 30 calls a day, or 150 a week. How much time does it take to respond and answer all of those questions? How many of them do you want the reps to handle themselves?

In most cases, your “Call” list will be considerably shorter than your “Do Not Call” list. Every member of your sales team should understand not only what is on each list, but also why each item appears where it does.

Have this conversation with your team, and then repeat it about once a month. Performance appraisals are also a good opportunity to reinforce this. Also, review the list if there is a violation. Sometimes, folks just need to be reminded.

There are, of course, other topics that produce valuable conversations with new sales reps—their most productive work environment, clear definitions of deliverables and expectations, and so forth. Those are quite useful, but they also depend on clear communication between you and your sales reps. These three topics will help you do just that.

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