The relationships formed between salespeople and their managers is vitally important for businesses in the modern world. A good relationship can have a positive impact upon performance and job satisfaction rates, while a poor relationship can have the opposite effect. For this reason, sales managers training often places an emphasis on fostering a strong relationship with subordinates.
When it comes to developing a positive relationship, there are a number of important components, including the existence of common goals and mutual respect. However, one of the most important components is trust. So why exactly is trust so important to sales managers and how can trust levels be increased?
What Is ‘Trust’?
Trust can seem like an abstract concept, vaguely linked with ideas of belief and faith. However, in a study published in the Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, authors Karen E. Flaherty and James M. Pappas state that the concept of trust can be viewed as having two main components:
- Credibility – The extent to which a person can be relied upon and believed.
- Benevolence – The extent to which a person cares about the well-being of another.
It is often based on ideas of ‘truth and ‘honesty’ and broadly refers to the level of confidence one person has in another. When people have established a level of trust in their relationship, they are more likely to engage in effective cooperative behaviour and are less likely to enter into conflicts.
The Importance of Trust to Sales Managers
Having the trust of subordinates is especially important to those in sales manager positions, as it can lead to a number of key benefits. For example, a report published by the Great Place To Work Institute found that companies whose employees report high levels of trust also experience far lower staff turnover rates. This, in turn, reduces recruitment and sales training costs, while achieving greater consistency of performance.
Trust between sales managers and salespeople can help to increase employee commitment to an organisation, which can also improve performance. The presence of trust can also enhance the quality of staff learning, promote creativity, encourage collaboration, build confidence and influence decision making in a positive way.
Without trust, people assume self-protective, defensive postures that inhibit learning and performance
Communications coach and the CEO of Interact.
Through establishing trust, a sales manager can elevate themselves to role model status, which can help them to positively influence employee behaviour. Moreover, when a sales team has trust in its own members, it is more likely to inspire trust in customers; something which is vital for improving customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Building Trust As a Sales Manager
In terms of actually building trust, a sales manager needs to possess strong communication and listening skills. Authentic communication is key, so managers need to be open to feedback and able to inspire confidence through what they say. It is also important to be transparent, so that staff members do not feel as though they are being left in the dark, or as though they are being manipulated in some way.
Consistency is essential, as few things shatter trust quite like mixed messages, hypocrisy or false promises. Meanwhile, sales managers need to also accept the responsibility that comes with their position. This includes taking responsibility for shaping the sales culture, but also taking responsibility for any failures.
Finally, according to Colleen Stanley, the author of the book Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success, personal competence of sales managers is paramount.
A key role for sales managers is training and coaching. If you can’t demonstrate high level selling skills, a salesperson isn’t going to ask you for advice. Competent sales managers earn trust and develop sales teams that are open to following their advice and guidance.