The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Coaching Research: Do Your Sales Reps Trust You?

Posted by Stacia Jorgensen

November 4, 2015

I’m sure I don’t need to go into a lengthy persuasive argument about how important it is for sales reps to have trust in their sales manager. Trust is an important component of any relationship, right? We see this in everything from our relationships with our spouses or partners to our auto mechanic. If trust isn’t present, we aren’t as productive, healthy, or happy as we could be. 

This is no different in our sales teams. Trust, again, is important. When an honest relationship is rendered, both the sales rep and the sales manager benefit. There is confidence in what each party is bringing to the partnership and the outcomes that will result. To have the most productive relationships possible, trust must be present.

Our recent research on honesty and trust highlights six behaviors of sales managers who are highly trusted by their sales reps.

Simply, the following six best practices can either help you sustain the trust you have built with your team members or build trust where it may not yet be strong:

1) Trusted Sales Managers Hold Sales Reps Accountable

What you should do:

Use written goal setting exercises to coordinate expectations between you and your sales reps. Revisit these goals regularly (such as during 1:1 meetings) and provide direct feedback when they are met as well as when they are not met.

2) Trusted Sales Managers Possess Strong Client Closing Skills

What you should do:

Sales reps want to be successful. When you demonstrate a pathway for success in your own sales interactions, the guidance you offer as a sales leader is seen as more trustworthy. Also, don’t just show that you possess client closing skills; talk through your actions, reactions, and strategies with your reps to give them a deeper learning experience.

3) Trusted Sales Managers Recognize and Reward Sales Rep Achievements

What you should do:

Regardless of the size of the accomplishment, make sure to give credit and recognition. The specifics for how recognition should be given depend on the preferences and motivators for each individual sales rep and are something you must uncover (such as during the next best practice). Never downplay or mislabel (as your own) the contributions of your sales rep.

4) Trusted Sales Managers Frequently Hold 1:1 Meetings With Sales Reps

What you should do:

Regularly hold 1:1 meetings with your reps. Use these interactions as an opportunity to develop a personal relationship, establish communication styles, and lay a foundation for mutual respect. These meetings are also a good time to discuss all the other elements (such as discussing your client closing skills or holding your reps accountable) included in this list of best practices for building trust with your sales reps.

5) Trusted Sales Managers Excel At Identifying Client Needs

What you should do:

Use your sales skills to explore how best you could meet your sales reps development needs similarly as you would if they were a client. Think of your role as one of winning over their trust and respect rather than them needing to simply fall in line behind your title.

6) Trusted Sales Managers Treat Sales Reps As Valuable Team Members

What you should do:

The role of a sales manager is not just to push information, goals, and directives down to their reps but to also pull ideas, challenges, and best practices up from their reps. Make sure the movement of communication is not a one-way street. Respect the vantage point of your reps just as you would like them to respect yours. Solicit and incorporate your sales reps feedback as much as possible.

To sum it all up, trust should be a management element on your mind. By following the six best practices above, you can make sure you’re doing your best to foster a trusting relationship between you and your sales team.

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For more discussion, research, and best practices on ways to enhance your sales management skills, join us at our Sales Coaching Summit or Academy this spring. Subscribe to our email list to learn more.

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