Communication Skills For Sales Managers

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

31 July, 2008

Communication word cloudSales Managers Need Good Communication Skills

If you’ve been in management for any length of time you will already know it doesn’t take much to cause animosity, resentment or even real distaste with people that you manage simply by answering a question. I mean just by answering a question, you can cause a host of serious problems. You have to remember the old adage, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

The wrong word or the tone you use to deliver the word can cause misunderstandings, ill feeling and resentment, which create barriers that will cost your organisation lots of money, time, employee retention and eventually unsatisfied customers. It is essential that you approach and communicate effectively with your Front Line People.

First, keep in mind that it is extremely easy to inadvertently make people feel belittled or even stupid, when you speak because of your position and experience. When people you supervise feel that you talk “down” to them, it makes them fear talking to you or asking you questions. Then, small problems you thought you’d resolved suddenly spiral out of control, they fester and grow into major obstacles before you know it. So how do you communicate comfortably with people without sounding like the big cheese? Developing effective communication skills requires serious and practice. However, here’s a few tips to avoid making people feel inferior:

Listen.
When someone comes to you with that question you’ve heard and answered a million times. You know! that one you know what they’re going to say before they say it question; do you have a tendency to “cut them off” with an answer that goes something like this “I know what you’re going to say, It’s a stupid question which I’ve answered a thousand times, go away and stop wasting my time”. BIG MISTAKE. What you need to think about is, ‘OK, YES’, I’ve been asked this question lots of times, along with many other questions which I know the answer to before the question is even asked, You know though, no matter how tempting it is to be abrupt and cut them off because you know you have far more important things to do, you must let them talk. Let them get it out, look them in the eye when they ask the question, yes the question maybe one asked many times before but not by them so LISTEN—HEAR IT!

Wait.
When someone comes to you with a question or situation they feel is important, don’t be too quick to answer or provide a solution straight away, let them SPEAK and you LISTEN. You may well have the answer on the tip off your tongue, but slow down, don’t blurt it out, you can gain a lot of respect and credibility by simply delaying the response, wait a second or two and in-between a “yes, that’s a good question”, gives you time to think about the tone and attitude you use to deliver your response. Your response, if well thought out won’t be patronisng or demeaning, instead it will make them feel valued and important and WOW they will even think they’ve asked the BOSS a question he’s had to stop and think about!

Can I get back to you?
Let’s face it though, sometimes we’re too busy to employ such tactics. However, you don’t have to say, “I don’t have time for you now, go away.” You can still build value and camaraderie if you accept and understand that any question is important! You need to get across that ‘YES’ you appreciate the value of the question but in order to give it the attention it deserves you need more time than you have right now to deal with it. As an example, (you don’t want to cut someone off and make them feel un-important so you might say something like;) “Listen, Steve/Sue, I think I know what you’re getting at, and it’s a really good point; which we do need to talk about, but, I need more time to figure it out. I’ve only got a few minutes now so let’s meet first thing Friday and we can give it the attention it really deserves.”

Can you help me?
You can give commands and orders all day long. However, it is often better to ask for help instead. For instance when you have to delegate tasks, especially tedious or labor intensive ones, people can feel “dumped on” They’re at the bottom of the pecking order, the lowest employee, so you dump the worst jobs on them. No one wants to feel worthless and it’s never your intention to make them feel this way, so why not try a different approach and ask for ‘HELP’ with a ‘PROJECT’ it humanises you, ‘the BOSS needs my help Instead of Graham/Ann, make sure you empty the shredders in the accounting department and dispose of the rubbish correctly…” Why not try something more like this: Graham/Ann, I really need your help… You know the shredders in accounts have been down for a few days, there fixed now but there’s a backlog? It’s really important we handle the sensitive information properly, can you make sure it’s disposed of properly? thank you” People respond when asked to ‘HELP’ instead of being ‘TOLD’

Ineffective communication is like a cancer, if it isn’t detected early, it will grow and spread quickly throughout your organisation; directly and indirectly it will cost your company precious time and a lot of money. Effective Communication is a process, and an ‘Effective communication skills will increase productivity, bring down costs, thereby enhancing your bottom line!

Happy Communicating

Sean

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

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