One of the most difficult parts of being a sales manager is delivering bad news to someone on your sales team. I have seen it so many times. There is a sales rep who is not performing and a sales manager who is trying to work with them the best they can. They often try to take a friendly approach, not wanting to appear confrontational. After some time, the sales manager starts to get frustrated because their efforts seem to have no impact. What is there left to do for the sales manager? Deliver a difficult message to help the salesperson snap back to the previously winning ways.
Here are some tips for delivering bad news:
Anticipate Pushback – There is a very good chance that if you deliver bad news to a salesperson they may begin to defend their actions. Be prepared for possible questions and remember to stick to what actually happened and stay away from opinions.
The Facts vs. Emotions – One of the worse things I have ever seen is a sales manager trying to wing a serious conversation. The facts start to get cloudy and the impact of the message falls flat. Remember to outline your conversation and remember the words of Joe Friday “Just the facts.” Your emotions have little to do with the equation. Don’t excuse winging a conversation by trying to be “sincere.”
Agree on Next Steps – It’s a mistake to walk away from a serious conversation with no clear next steps. As soon as you have had an open dialogue, collaborate on ways to follow up. Empowering your salesperson will allow them to take ownership of their own development.
Remember, delivering bad news is a part of life and our jobs that we just can’t avoid. Even if we don’t like to do it, there is still a way it can be done effectively. If it’s done right the first time, you can avoid repeating the same conversations over and over.
Tell us some of the techniques you have used to deliver bad news in the past. You can leave your best practices in the comments section below.