As a parent, sales manager or coach I rarely used the tough guy approach to motivate people. (My son may disagree since I did bench him once, way back in youth baseball.) The great majority of people don’t respond well to animated theatrics, a bellowing voice or cynicism when they’re being critiqued. It’s bad enough getting critiqued much less from someone who is acting like the Marquis de Sade.
However, there are times when a sales manager needs to unload on a salesperson in order to shake them up. When are these times? When a salesperson:
- Badmouths inside personnel or other salespeople.
- Appears uninterested in their job. (Late for meetings, late with paperwork, misses appointments, late with expense report etc.)
- Misses target for more than 2 quarters.
- Exhibits anger or frustration with customer service or other inside personnel.
- Lies to, offends or in general makes life difficult for a customer.
All of these examples, given a specific situation, could be grounds for dismissal or probation. If a salesperson exhibits these in less volatile ways then a mere tongue lashing would do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sitting a salesperson down in a quiet room and telling them the truth about their attitude or performance. I can’t think of anyone that I have been associated with that hasn’t, at some point in their business career, been given the “come to Jesus” meeting.
If you ever have to do this (and you will) then do it in a constructive way. Whatever the salesperson has done recap it for the individual so he or she has no confusion about the event. State very specifically the impact the behavior had on people and the impact it had on the salesperson. Give the person an alternate way to handle the situation without using anger or frustration.
I know that there are some of you that think these behaviors should result in dismissal. As I stated above they could very well lead to that, given certain conditions or the repetitive nature of the action. But, I tend toward the less dramatic management intervention. You may have a good rep but they’re in a personal or business funk and don’t know how to get out of it. It happens.
I have two last bits of advise. Talk to the salesperson away from the office. There is no need to air this stuff semi-publically. Personally, I’d do it over a beer. Have the salesperson talk with the person they offended. There is nothing wrong with an apology.
The Final Word: He who ignores discipline despises himself, but he who heeds correction gains understanding. Proverbs 15:32