As manager, your job is bringing out the best in others by the way you interact with them. Well timed, well executed conversations change people’s lives. Poorly timed, unprepared conversations damage the individual salesperson and the team who interacts with him or her.
First: Determine and affirm aspirations and goals.
Never have conversations about an individual’s life, strengths, weaknesses, or potential until you understand their hopes and dreams.
People open their hearts to people who understand their hearts.
Second: Explore strengths and weaknesses in the context of aspirations.
What strengths propel you toward fulfilling your dream? What weaknesses hinder progress?
Which strengths are most useful to taking the next step?
Which weaknesses are most detrimental to forward movement?
Third: Address negatives without being a downer.
If you’re addressing weaknesses, try two questions at once. “What behaviors and qualities will enhance your progress and what qualities and behaviors will hinder your success?” Always address negatives in the context of positives.
If people see you as being too critical it’s because you press on the negatives and don’t express the positives.
Affirm strengths by explaining practical benefit and positive potential. Address weakness by exploring how they hinder aspirations.
Use positive qualities as foundations to discuss behaviors that need improvement. For example, if you’re having conversations with a goal oriented person. Open the “you need improvement” part of the conversation by asking, “A goal oriented person may walk on others, how might that be true of you?”
Fourth: Craft strategies with them not for them.
After they identify strengths and weaknesses, craft strategies that better move them forward with them. You may feel you know the best answer but they must find their own. Embrace their journey.
Fifth: Focus more on positives than negatives.
If you bring something up that creates frustration or anger, pull back. But, know that anger indicates it matters. Touch the topic at another time. They just aren’t ready to deal with it yet.
Discuss with your sales team
Jay Miller, Executive Vice President for the Texas Rangers, says, “People buy from people they like and trust. The way I show salespeople how that works is take them with me on sales calls. Then the salesperson is open to listening and wants to learn. That’s when I have the chance to have the kinds of conversations to change people’s lives, to really help them. Now they like and trust me—and they’ll buy what I’m saying to them.”
If managers only criticize, will anybody be buying what they’re selling?
How do you have conversations that move people forward?
What types of conversations haven’t worked for you in the past?