Jul 02 2018 • By

3 Behaviors That Could Be Limiting Your Ability to Communicate With Your Boss

This is PART 2 or a two part blog on communication, for Salespeople: Here are three behaviors that could be limiting your ability to communicate effectively with your boss! Click HERE for PART 1: Three behaviors that could be limiting your ability to communicate with your sales team.

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but across the country there are both managers and salespeople that have a hard time communicating with each other! Last month’s blog discussed 3 ways managers may be limiting their ability to effectively communicate with their sales team. Because I get to coach both managers and employees around this challenge, I am lucky enough to uncover both sides of the coin. This blog aims to help employees communicate more effectively with their leaders!

If you are perceived as doing any of the following communication hindering actions by your manager… you are hindering your ability to communicate with them! As a result, you may be creating a situation where your manager begins ignoring what you bring up, dismisses you, or even worse… avoids communicating with you at all costs. If this has already occurred, don’t fret. Not only will I shed light on the potential hurdles you may be putting up for yourself, and how to avoid them, but I will also give you tactical methods for bringing down those barriers that already exist.

Your interactions come across as negative or “whiny”

A strong leader knows that great morale and positive attitudes are key when it comes to an effective sales team. These amazing leaders are constantly trying to lift salespeople up after a challenging close, a lost sale, or even personal challenges. As such, this never-ending battle against low morale can wear on a manager. The pressure to keep the team motivated and high functioning can be surreal, and as a salesperson – you may not understand it yet. I am not saying to avoid approaching your manager. When you bring something to their attention, do so in a mood neutral way.

Let’s use the common complaint that it takes too long to get someone into finance. A negative approach usually goes along the lines of “Boss, my surveys are suffering because it takes too long to get customers into finance! My customers are in a hurry and they can’t wait this long.” First, kudos to you for being direct. However, the approach can certainly come across whiny or negative. If you complain about it to the other salespeople or finance managers, you can believe that it will get back to your leadership. This can cause you to be perceived as negative, whiny or even toxic to the work environment.

How can you as an employee, get this frustration off your chest, not be perceived as negative, and potentially help the situation get better? Let’s discuss a way we can recruit your manager to the conversation. Remember, you can’t win a battle with a one-man army. You need to recruit people to your cause! What makes people want to join you? There must be little or no barriers or resistance, and they must understand what they get out of the deal. The next question becomes, “What does my manager get out of the deal?” In this case, if customers were to go into finance faster, the benefits for your manager and dealership would be… Higher survey scores for the entire dealership, happier customers, more referrals and customer retention, the ability for you to spend more time prospecting to find more customers,and more money for finance as speed into the box can help them earn more profit.

Now that we know the gains for the manager, we need to start with that as a recruitment statement. “Boss, my goal is to help our store receive high CSI, more referrals, more finance profit, and more sales when I do more of the right activities. I believe there are some opportunities to improve the situation and I would like to discuss ways to improve them…” I will guide more on the recruitment statement later. Let’s say this works, and your manager agrees to a discussion around this challenge.

The next thing we need to do is take ownership by showing your manager that you are open to learning about what you personally can do to improve the situation. Imagine your manager agrees to the sit down, and the entire conversation is finger pointing by you. “Finance does this, the managers do that, etc.” Finger pointing almost always comes across as negative. Instead, a different perception can be created if you approach your manager in this way – “Boss, I am sure that I can play a part in improving the situation. Before we talk about what others can do to improve, I would appreciate your opinion and ideas about what I can do to improve the situation on my end. I believe that I am as responsible for the customer experience as anyone else at the dealership.” After taking ownership, receiving coaching from your manager, and creating a game plan on what you can do to improve; you have earned the right to ask your manager what can be done about the others, if anything.

In short, if you want to have good engagements with your manager and maintain your brand as someone who is positive, but honest – Follow these steps:

1. Ensure your approach is not stating the problem and walking away.
2. Avoid tri-angular communication, only approach the person who can help improve the situation.
3. Ask yourself, what does my manager get out of the deal? Approach them with those things first.
4. Take ownership and look in the mirror before pointing the finger at others.

You are randomly always asking for something

A homeless man stopped by our dealership one day. My manager asked me for my wallet. Me being the army special ops soldier who lived by blind obedience, and trusting my boss with my job skills and career, I did as he asked. He proceeded to pull three twenty dollar bills out of my wallet and handed it to the homeless person, who was later named, “The Good Luck Bum” by one of the salesman. Within an hour of the generous donation my boss was kind enough to make on my dime, then telling me, “Something good will happen to you now.”

I ended up selling a car and having one of the best deals of my career soon after. As a result, everyone, including myself decided to give this fella lots of money whenever he would visit, for a few days. His once sporadic monthly visit quickly turned into a daily drop in. He even came in two times in a day at one point! After about a week of this, people started avoiding him.

After two weeks, salespeople started running from him. After three weeks, the charity and novelty wore off, and someone even asked him to leave the dealership. Moral of the story, if you constantly have your hand out, asking for something randomly, you will drive away those willing to help you.

There are a few core employee engagement needs that are tied directly to a manager or senior manager’s ability to have regular ongoing interactions with their employees. Care being one, recognition and appreciation being the others. When employees feel undervalued or under appreciated, this erodes a teams’ ability to function at a high level.

Sometimes, it’s my job to uncover what is preventing this type of interaction to help improve engagement to in turn impact productivity! There are several reasons I’ve found this occurs, one of which happens to be the following: After asking a dealer, “What prevents you from providing the face time and conversation your employees expect from you?”

“Every time I start a discussion with X, Y or Z employee, or even walk by them, they randomly ask me for something that they want. This makes me want to avoid them because I didn’t plan for the discussion. Also, they don’t have supporting info or data to explain why this would help. I feel bad if and when I have to say no, which I usually do because of their approach.” The dealer explained this to me.

Your managers and dealers are very busy people. Every minute of their time spent has an extremely high value on it. Most everyone wants to improve their situation, and as hard as we work as salespeople in the auto industry, I know we earn every cent of that paycheck. That being said, just randomly asking for things will simply annoy and drive away your leadership from communicating with you.

1. If you believe something will improve your situation, do research to back up your claim before your meeting with the manager.
2. Ask yourself and have supporting data answer these three questions, “How does this benefit myself, my team, and my entire dealership?” If it benefits all 3, and you can explain how, you won’t come across as selfish.
3. Make deposits before you make a withdrawal. Asking over and over without giving is the equivalent of overdrawing your bank account. You can’t take out what you haven’t put in. Have you earned the right to ask for something? Have you had enough good interactions where you didn’t ask for things or is your hand always out?
4. Schedule the meeting. Instead of randomly throwing your wants or ideas against the wall when the boss walks by, hoping they will stick, reach out to them and schedule the meeting. Find out when is convenient for them. Go in with a meeting objective, benefits for all involved, research, and an agenda. This will help you be taken more seriously and earn respect.

You lack credibility and have damaged trust.

“You can trust me, I’m a car salesman!” is one of my favorite one liners. It almost always gets a laugh. While this joke is great, lack of trust between manager and salesperson is no laughing matter. Salespeople often withhold facades. A façade being information the salesperson possesses about themselves or their deal, which the manager does not have. Interestingly enough, because of the close proximity leadership in the auto industry has to their employees, and the high level of visibility and customer interaction these managers have with each deal and salesperson… these facades are often exposed at some point during or after the sale. When this happens, you can rest assured your credibility takes a hit.

When looking inward, and not blaming our managers, what prevents salespeople from being able to give all the open and honest answers that ensure trust and credibility remain strong? Here are some of the answers coaching front line salespeople has uncovered.

1) “I’m fearful of what the managers decision will be if I give them that piece of information.”
2) “I am concerned about being yelled at when I approach them when this happens.”
3) “I didn’t think they wanted or cared about that information.”
4) “I don’t want to let my boss down.”

All of these communication challenges are caused from a lack of knowledge, clarity and understanding. You need the knowledge to know how your manager’s decisions are impacted by each situation. We need to create clarity around the correct information that the manager wants to receive in each interaction. Finally, we need understanding of the consequences of withholding information and to weigh the potential outcomes of doing such things.
1. Sit down with your manager when you’re not in the game, playing to win and ask “why?” Prior to money being on the line while working a deal, seek to gain the knowledge of why certain information changes a manager’s decision. By understanding these decisions, it will help you be a more effective salesperson.

2. Discuss what information the manager does and doesn’t want during interactions at each stage in the selling cycle. I promise, by having this discussion you will uncover what is important to each manager. When you know what’s important to each manager, they will help you sell more! You will come to them more prepared which lowers stress levels.

3. Let your manager know how they should approach you, if and when you let them down, in a respectful and positive way. How should they explain what you can do better?

Imagine if you came to a mutual agreement with your company leaders. If you always knew what information they were looking for and why they wanted that information and how it affected your deal. What would it mean for you if your manager knew how to approach you and handle a challenge in a positive and respectful way every time that they had a concern? How would that grow the trust between you both, and what impact would it have on your results and career over time?

These are all coaching questions I ask the most communication-ally challenged salespeople. They are then able to overcome their fears and anxiety, approach their managers like a true professional. Respect, trust and growth occur at this moment! This growth happens on both a personal and professional level.

In hopes that you can communicate better with your manager and enjoy your career and succeed even more, I have shared some of the primary communication challenges with you. You now have some actionable methods for taking down these barriers which will ultimately help you achieve even more!

Know that I am always here to support your efforts for work satisfaction, winning cultures and career success. Feel free to reach out anytime if you need coaching around these challenges!

Sean Kelley #thecarbizcoach CEO of Car Motivators in Arnold Missouri helps sales leaders achieve great results through their people and technology, with a unique approach to coaching and people development. If you are interested in achieving these same results, email Sean@CarMotivators.com

#communication #thecarbizcoach #coachingthecarbusiness #coachingexcellence #winningcultures #sales