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How New Sales Managers Can Build Trust With Their Sales Team

How New Sales Managers Can Build Trust with a Sales Team

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair. If you are a new sales manager, building trust with your sales team is your first challenge. Without trust, progress will be slowed and time is a luxury few new sales managers have. Trust is the foundation for building strong teams, creating a positive work environment, and producing winning results. In this article we will outline the key elements of trust and how a new sales leader can build trust within their new sales team.

If you have ever worked for a sales manager you didn’t trust, you know how stressful that sales role can be. When you work for someone who is unreliable, irresponsible, and inconsistent, selling becomes nearly impossible. Trust provides a safe place for sales reps to share their struggles as well as their ambitions. As a new sales manager, building trust with the team is priority number one.

To be an effective sales leader, managers need the trust of their team. As a leader, you want the people on your team to trust you. The best way to build trust is model trustworthy behaviors. How you, as the sales leader, act with your team will be duplicated by how your sellers act with their prospects. If you are a sales leader that cuts corners, your sales reps will cut corners. If you show up late to meetings, your reps will show up late to meetings. To install trust, leaders should focus on three characteristics:

Positive Relationships. Behaviors that leaders must demonstrate include:

  • Showing concern for others.
  • Balancing results with concern for others.
  • Generating cooperation between others.
  • Resolving conflict with others.
  • Giving honest feedback in a positive format.

Good Judgement. Leaders are recognized as well-informed and knowledgeable. This includes:

  • Using good judgment when making decisions.
  • Having valued ideas and opinions.
  • Others seeking their input.
  • Being knowledgeable to help achieve results.
  • Anticipating problems and avoid them.

Consistency. The last element of trust is the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do. People rate a leader high in trust if they:

  • Modeling positive behaviors and set a good example.
  • Keeping commitments and promises.
  • Following through.
  • Having a routine and sticking to it.
  • Going above and beyond what needs to be done.

These three elements may seem self-evident, but as a sales leader, every aspect of our behaviors is being watched. If the sales team watches their leader cutting corners, they will assume it’s okay. To earn your team’s trust, you need to be above average in all three areas. 

Everything Works Better With a Plan

Write down which of the 3 trust elements you are most deficient with. Make a list of things you can do to improve your ability to generate trust with you team. Write down whatever comes to mind. In the next section you will learn how to get very clear on building trust by using the notes you create here to organize your thoughts.

If your team does not trust you, they will constantly question your expectations of them. This is a key contributor to low performance. Above, we outlined the elements need for trust. Now we provide action steps leaders can perform to build trust.

Transparency: Being transparent is about giving constructive advice as well as positive feedback. If a sales rep mishandles a call and is not informed, they will believe their actions are okay. High achievers want to improve, which requires a transparent approach to leading. When you are transparent with your team, they will be transparent with you. If you make a mistake, admit it and let the team know.  

Respect: Show respect for your team’s ideas, opinions, and time. If you said the meeting starts at 8 am, don’t show up at 8:05. If you ask a rep a question, listen to the answer and rephrase it back so you understand their position. Always treat your sales reps the way you want them to treat your best customers. It’s okay to disagree but it’s not okay to disrespect the other person by ignoring them or discounting their opinion.

Unite: “Individual commitment to a group effort. That is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” is what football coach Vince Lombardi said about what makes a team. He knew the success of a team required the individual members working toward a common goal. It is important each team member understands that their contribution is important to the team’s success. 

Show: This one is simple; show your team you care. People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Until your team sees that you have concern for their best interest, they may view you as another supervisor who will punish them if they underperform. That’s an old-school, ‘my way or the highway’ approach that has no place in the modern sales environment. 

Team-Building Activities: If people like who they work with, they are more productive. Unfortunately, this does not happen by accident. In fact, most people are distrustful of others when they first meet. Remember, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. Michael Jordan said it best, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”

Joining a new sales organization as a sales manager can be challenging. There is a lot of baggage that can be carried over from the last sales manager. Gaining the trust of your salespeople will ensure a smoother transition. There will be multiple personalities, learning styles, and coaching preferences. Without gaining the trust of your team it will feel impossible to make improvements. But if you place trust-building as a top priority early, you will see noticeable improvement in all areas of your team’s performance. 

Has your organization recently hired a new sales manager? Is high turn-over effecting your sales culture? Janek Performance Group has helped hundreds of companies build trust with team-building activities, one-on-one sales manager coaching, and train-the-trainer workshops. If you think your team could benefit from our experience, schedule a call with us today.