Sales Managers Should Listen Instead of Tell

Sales reps’ behaviors often puzzle sales managers. You wonder why the renewal business section of the compensation plan doesn’t seem to motivate them. When a rep’s turn comes to put up a post on the sales blog, they always manage to miss the deadline. Why does their presentation on the new product seem so lackluster? The questions go on and on. In conversation after conversation you’ve gone over the comp plan, reminded them to post a blog, and reviewed the features and benefits of the new product. Where does the disconnect lie?

Switch gears. During you next coaching session, ask them to explain the rule / procedure / product to you. Get a grasp of their interpretation.

Asking a sales rep to explain something to you brings to light:

  • What they specifically do not understand (they have a good grasp of the new product but get tripped up on a particular feature. Anxiety about having to discuss this feature leads to a tentative presentation.)
  • How they interpret a particular point (they understand the new versus renew clause in the compensation plan but think it’s unfair -- especially as it relates to three of their clients).
  • When they actually do comprehend something perfectly well and can explain it. They just don’t agree with it or want to do it. (Self-conscious about their writing skills, they avoid contributing to contribute to the blog).

Recognizing their interpretation leads to follow-up meetings, additional training, “aha moments”, compromises, and reaffirmation of or changes in policy – in other words getting to the heart of the problem and solving it.