6 strategies for building trust in sales teams
Trust is defined as “reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
Consider that for a minute …. trust indicates that you depend on another person to do the right thing. You believe in the individual’s ability, integrity and strength of character, to the extent that you’re able to put yourself on the line, at some danger to yourself.
Trust is necessary for efficient group dynamics – when your team members feel secure in each others abilities they are more prepared to commit to increased communication & collaboration, and greater exposure to risk (project & personal).
Without trust there’s less innovation, collaboration, imaginative thinking, and performance, and individuals invest their time protecting themselves and their interests instead of concentrating their efforts on helping the group attain its objectives.
How to develop a culture of trust
1. Lead by Example
To build trust within your team – lead by example, and show them you trust others (including your group, colleagues, and employer). Never forget that your team will mirror your actions, not what they are being told to do.
Most sales performance initiatives (sales training, CRM implementation etc) fail due to waning commitment to the new system – over time sales people gradually abandon the new sales methodologies and revert back to their old ways, similarly new technology will be aborted in preference to the old familiar system. Management must continually reinforce the importance of the new system by integrating it into their sales management processes (eg planning & deployment and performance management).
2. Communicate openly
Open communication is essential for building trust. You need to get everyone on your team talking to one another in an honest, meaningful way. It is only through communication that team members understand each others actions and motives – thus minimising conflicts of interests.
Conflicts between sales & marketing are a result of this lack of communication – each department works in isolation and performs activities which at best don’t support the others objectives. Customers as a result receive conflicting messages which often jeapodises relationships (and potential sales).
3. Personalise communication
Personalise team communications, and encourage the sharing of experiences and personal stories. All members of the sales team are able to contribute personal experiences of different circumstances/scenarios. Personalised communication benefits the team as a whole because it provides an opportunity to learn something new or reenforce existing knowledge.
4. Don’t Place Blame
In a dynamic team environment honest mistakes and disappointments happen, and it’s easy to point the finger elsewhere . It is always easier to blame the sales team or a declining market for not meeting sales targets …. besides addressing an issue takes work and puts your reputation at risk.
Rather than looking inward and assessing what they could have done better, many salespeople instinctively blame everything around them …. looking at where they lost the sale exposes their weaknesses. Often if a sale is lost they blame marketing for a poor lead or the personality of the prospect – losing the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
5. Discourage Cliques
Cliques can form within larger teams, often between team members who share common interests or work tasks. However, these groups can make others members feel isolated, stifle communication and undermine trust between group members.
In larger sales teams top performers tend to band together, often isolating other members. This scenario stifles communication and prevents mentoring of junior sales staff …. where the rest of the team cannot benefit from their experience.
6. Address problems promptly
Problems, like boils, if left to fester will grow and eventually erupt. Getting to the core of a problem in a prompt and professional manner, is paramount in managing a performance sales team. Attitudes are infectious, take care to monitor team behaviours and respond accordingly and promptly.
Sales managers are notoriously slow at responding to changes in attitude and/or performance, preferring to brush them off as ‘temporary anomalies’. Working along side team members to address problems demonstrates trust in their ability and concern for their well-being, as well as encouraging communication and defining expectations.
Without trust there’s less communication, collaboration, innovation, creative thinking, and productivity. People spend their time protecting themselves and their interests – this is time that should be spent helping the group attain its goals.