Are You Afraid of Conflict With Your Inside Sales Reps?


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I would like to think of myself as approachable both as an employee and as a manager. Every boss would like to think they demonstrate that trait, but from what I’ve seen, that may not always be the case. Unfortunately, many managers want to believe they’re approachable, but their outward demeanor shows something else. These are generally the bosses who never seem to have their finger on the pulse of their people. As a result when something unexpected happens, they’re shocked. Because they feel out of touch, they lash out rather than getting to the core of the issue. 

Now while I understand that sometimes people demonstrate some raw emotion in stressful situations (I’ve certainly been guilty of this), what I’ve discovered is that I’m better off diagnosing the specific problem rather than letting that emotion affect what could otherwise be a teaching moment for an employee. Sure, this may be management 101 for some of you, but I think we’re guilty of missing those teaching opportunities when we’re caught up in our busy and sometimes stressful days.

I think a good example I’ve seen at previous jobs is the stern/frustrated/angry mass email we receive from a boss addressing a problem he or she doesn’t know how to handle. You know those fun emails that leave you thinking, “What the hell does this have to do with me?… I didn’t think I was doing that wrong… but maybe I am… maybe my boss doesn’t have any faith in me.” The reality is the email probably had nothing to do with you at all and it was intended to address a few select members of the team. Not surprisingly you go off to complain to everyone else wondering why your boss just opened up a can of whoop ass on you when you feel you’ve done nothing wrong. Not a great use of anyone’s time. Point is that this could all be avoided if the boss took the time out of their busy day for the one-on-one meeting that was necessary to address the real culprits. 

Let’s face it, we all innately want to avoid conflict but if it’s not addressed with the intended individual(s) head-on, you’ll more than likely create a bigger problem. I’m not saying you should be looking for a beef. Instead have a healthy discussion that effectively says “Hey, I give you plenty of autonomy; I’ve made your objectives very clear; I think I’m fair and I trust you. So why aren’t you doing what I ask?” Assuming you’ve created this kind of open environment, you end up setting yourself up for a very easy conversation.  The most common result from what I’ve seen is an admission that they could be doing better and you’re justified feeling the way you do. 

So how would you feel you represent yourself to your employees and peers? What kind of environment have you created? Is conflict something you avoid?

Inside sales is a metrics heavy role that can be unforgiving at times. In this job in particular, I’ve seen that you have to cognizant of the pressures and potential burnout your team faces. On the other side of the coin, they should know what they signed up for. Assuming you’ve created the kind of work environment described above the difficult conversations will be easy ones.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Craig Ferrara
Craig Ferrara is a Director of Client Operations at AG Salesworks. He joined the company in 2004 as a Business Development Manager, transitioned to Client Account Manager, and was promoted to his current position in 2007. Craig's daily responsibilities include inside sales team oversight, reporting, training, ongoing contact list development and refinement, and managing daily client engagement from a high level.


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