Sales managers – underestimating the power of words

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Sales managers – words have power!

When salespeople get promoted to a sales manager position there are many traps to avoid and new things to learn from: analyzing CRM data, to conducting performance reviews to figuring out how you are going to find the time to coach.

These things get a fair amount of attention.  On the other hand, one “new thing” rarely talked about – perhaps because it may be classified as common sense hence no need to think about it cause it will just come naturally – is the trap of not realizing the power of your words.

What’s interesting about this trap is regardless of tenure, we’ve seen sales managers fall prey.  Sales managers are busy and all too often make off-the-cuff comments.  Why can that be a problem worth thinking about?  Here are three reasons.

  • Sales managers have positional authority – so what they say is taken seriously and that means off-the-cuff comments can have more influence than intended. Almost every sales manager with whom we’ve worked has share an experience where someone on their sales team took an unnecessary or inappropriate action based on an off-the-cuff comment.
  • Off-the-cuff comments from sales managers spread quickly and morph – from one person to another as they zip through the organization.  It’s the morphing part that can be particularly telling.  You not only have to think about what you say but how you say it.  The potential for morphing can be minimized.
  • What sales managers say can be interpreted as conveying an official company position – particular when a company is going through a period of change. This little problem can lead to inappropriate action and on a bad day get the manager in hot water.

The perils of off-the-cuff comments by sales managers are not at the top of the list of pressing problems that are degrading sales effectiveness.  But, at any given time, in any given company, five or six important things happening.  If you are a sales manager, someone on your team is going to corner you and ask, “”what’s going on?” How you respond – the words you use are important.

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©2014 Sales Momentum®

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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