Another Sales Management Intangible Trait-Vulnerability

 Without a doubt this will be a tough post to write and maybe a tougher post to grasp. In the last couple of posts I’ve attempted to define certain intangible traits that I believe sales managers should have. I’m tossing vulnerability into the mix as another one of those wispy, hard-to-define, unquantifiable traits that good managers have. So, before I get into this here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Vulnerabilityis the susceptibility to physical or emotional injury or attack. It also means to have ones guard down, open to censure or criticism; assailable. Vulnerability refers to a person’s state of being liable to succumb, as to persuasion or temptation.

By my standards that’s a pretty damn good definition. So, how does this apply to sales management? Let’s approach it from this angle. Here are some adjectives and phrases that apply to people who may not show vulnerability:

  • Hard-nosed
  • Overtly aggressive
  • Demanding
  • Takes no prisoners
  • Critical
  • Closed

Vulnerability for a sales manager means:

  1.  He or she allows people to speak their mind even if the words may not be complimentary.
  2. When they coach salespeople they do it in a way that leaves the rep’s ego intact.
  3. They are “hard listeners” who want to understand the real meaning behind the words.
  4. They carry themselves with confidence and are not arrogant.
  5. They legitimately care about their salespeople and the rep’s families.
  6. They are goal oriented in a way that incorporates the whole sales team.
  7. They are supportive.
  8. They create strong relationships based on mutual respect.

Don’t mistake vulnerability for softness or weakness. Vulnerability implies a certain openness to others. The sales manager with this trait is approachable and people know it or sense it. There is no “gamesmanship” where the manager likes to send mixed signals or manipulates people to gain what they want.

I will tell you from experience that this trait opens up the avenue of communication to eight lanes in both directions! Salespeople will do almost anything for the manager who they can trust. A question worth asking is, does every sales manager have this trait? I would say not many. Can managers learn it? Yes, but who teaches how to be vulnerable? In my opinion either you have it or you don’t.

The Final Thought: All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” Galileo


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