Have you ever felt that your team members are not committed to your latest sales initiative? Maybe you sense their lack of trust or confidence in you. You’re not alone. While rarely discussed openly, these are common insecurities for many sales managers and team leaders. Business and the workplace are constantly changing, so sales leaders need to adapt to these changes through continual development as a manager. Additionally, it’s important they ensure they are aware of the triggers that could lead to their sales teams losing confidence in their leadership.
Why Should Trust be a Priority?
As a sales manager, there are surely hundreds of concerns that need to be prioritised. However, trust should be at the forefront of them all. This is crucial, because a loss of confidence from your team can ultimately impact business outcomes, employee engagement, and potentially retention. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees who trust their employers are far more likely to stay loyal to their employer and be strongly committed to their jobs and the customers they serve.
It is clear that treating employees with respect and dignity should be the highest priority, so why is it so difficult for sales management to win over their team’s trust? Let’s explore the top five reasons that sales colleagues lose trust in their managers and how to prevent this loss in confidence.
1. Lack of Support and Communication
Without the right engagement, transparency and honesty, a sales manager will not be able to appreciate and address their team’s concerns. As soon as healthy communication is lost, trust goes along with it. Team members who don’t have a leader communicating with them about the direction of their team and their individual progress will certainly lose trust. It can be easy for managers to get caught up in focusing on sales results and forget to communicate their feedback and future vision with their team.
Employees care about having open channels of communication with their leaders, so creating a healthy environment where honest conversations can take place is essential to gaining trust. Communication includes everything from team vision casting to individual confrontations. Every team member must know their line manager has their back and is invested in their career and long-term development.
They need to know that it’s not just about the short-term, day-to-day objectives for their manager. This involves the manager understanding and discussing individual team member’s motivations. Most importantly, they’re ensuring there is adequate opportunity for providing them constructive feedback and recognising their training and development needs.
2. “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Culture
Managers must lead by example. When they don’t, trust and respect erode, with questions raised over their ability to do the job and provide strategic direction. When a sales manager gives orders that they wouldn’t or haven’t done themselves, team members are less likely to follow their leadership. Once doubt and discontent set in, there is a ripple effect whereby everything is challenged.
The best leader is one who leads by example, becoming a role model for their team members to look up to and follow. If you’re sensing resentment or hesitation from your sales representatives in following your lead, it may be that they need to see you dive in first. At London School of Sales, we follow a simple rule: we will not ask anyone to do anything that we are not prepared to do ourselves. Therefore, make it a priority to lead by example, and be sure that your team will follow in your footsteps with confidence.
3. Not Knowing When to Step Back
Trust is a mutual exchange, in which the sales manager must also participate. Although our focus is on gaining team trust, a sales manager must first show that they trust their team. More often than not, sales managers can become a “helicopter boss.” In other words, they don’t step back and give their sales staff room to make mistakes and learn from them.
Instead of stepping back into a managing role, sales managers may tend to step in to save the deal. However, this lack of letting go shows the team that their manager doesn’t actually trust their abilities to get the job done. This in turn leads to a lack of confidence in themselves and an even deeper lack of trust in their manager.
As difficult as it may be to let go of the reins, it is in the best interest of your team. Letting go may lead to losing a few sales, or more mistakes by your team, but in the long term, it will lead to stronger team cohesion and engagement. This aligns with our belief that the sales world is constantly changing, so a sales department should constantly be learning and adapting. As your team members learn from their mistakes and build confidence in their work, they will trust you as their manager as you trusted them.
4. Disconnect Between Business Objectives and Meaningful Sales Initiatives
When a manager forces their team to complete tasks without any context or understanding of their importance, individuals get distracted. In other words, when team members are not clear on how their work will help achieve greater sales, they tend to lose focus and think small, rather than in terms of opportunity. It is very common to give tasks without reminding your team of the larger picture, which leads to lack of motivation and trust.
It’s the manager’s responsibility to create the narrative that will help the team grow. They must first sell the vision to their team if they expect anyone to trust them as a leader. If an activity has no sales benefit, it is their job to challenge it and provide the necessary context and rationale before briefing their team. Every task should have a larger purpose, and when your team understands that, they will more willingly get the job done.
5. Lack of Care and Investment
Building and nurturing trust takes time. However, with impending deadlines and pressure from supervisors, sales managers are likely to lose sight of what their team needs most: care and investment. When employees feel as though their work and their contributions are not valued, they in turn stop valuing their work. This leads to decreased employee engagement, low productivity, and no team cohesion. Every sales manager longs to know what single quality differentiates managers and makes team members more likely to trust, follow and commit to them. We believe that every salesperson wants their manager to care and invest in them.
It might seem oversimplified or obvious, but caring is a powerful force for action. It demonstrates the manager’s commitment to the team and individual team members. It’s important to remember the highest-ranking sales performer doesn’t necessarily make the best manager. At its core, successful sales management is the process of having a sense of purpose to serve and support those that they are managing and leading.
Sales managers who are sensitive to their team’s development, wellness and focus are like gold dust. They will do what it takes in their quest to remove barriers and ensure their team members have what they need to succeed and grow. These managers are not thinking about self-preservation. Instead, they are selfless in their support of those around them. This focus on caring should not be viewed as a weakness but their greatest strength. It enables them to see the bigger picture and the opportunity in developing those around them.
Invest in Your Sales Team’s Development
The most effective way to not only win your sales team’s trust but also improve employee engagement and productivity is to invest in their continuous development. With the interactive Essential Sales Skills course from London School of Sales, your team can learn how to be the best sales team at their own pace, applying what they learn directly to the ever changing world of sales.
In addition, our Sales Management Toolkit is the perfect opportunity to learn how to be a trustworthy sales manager that leads efficiently and earns the trust of their team.