Be a Good Listener
When is the last time you called one of your sales managers and asked them how things are going for them in the field? Your sales reps are your eyes and ears on the customer. If you ask them how things are going, and you show them you’re willing to listen to their challenges, as well as successes, you might learn surprising information about how effective your strategies are—or aren’t—across each of your districts and regions.
When you take the time to reach out to your reps with the sole intent of listening, it accomplishes two tasks at once. First, as mentioned, you get first-hand accounts of how your reps are leveraging your strategy and whether or not it’s working. Second—and possibly of more importance—you create a human connection between yourself and your sales team. You become approachable, and you’ll be seen as a partner who is invested in each rep’s personal success.
Say No Without Saying No
Your sales team operates in a reactionary world. They take a call or follow up with a prospect, and they tailor their actions to what is happening in the moment. It’s no wonder they’ll reach out to their marketing team with ad-hoc requests or last-minute demands However, it’s not realistic or even possible to accommodate their every request.
Learning how to say “no” without actually saying “no” is crucial to both building trust and maintaining your strategy. According to Bryan Lubeck, Distribution Sr. Marketing Manager of NetApp North America, the secret to denying requests while maintaining your relationship is to, “…ask questions and understand what they’re really asking for. Then, don’t say ‘no.’ Instead, offer an alternate solution.”
Sometimes, it’s possible to accommodate the sales team’s one-off requests in a manner that boosts your camaraderie while still maintaining control of your checkbook. Choose to say yes to ad-hoc requests will create a win for the company and will also help you forge a tighter relationship with your reps. Lubeck says, “First, give them a part in your decision to say yes. Have them complete a series of tasks, fill out paperwork, or do research to show how their request will generate a win for the company. Then, make sure they know that the information they provided helped you sway your execs, but that you’re not sure you can pull it off like that again. You’ll give your rep the opportunity she needs without setting yourself up for a constant bombardment of future requests.”