At the beginning of each year, we traditionally reflect on our past and set goals for the future.
As a sales leader, this is a good time also to reflect on our leadership and how we can build and drive a more successful sales team.
One of the key factors influencing a team’s performance is trust in the leader, a factor that has been demonstrated repeatedly in historical studies of leadership.
Trust begins with rapport. Having strong rapport is the foundation upon which trust is based.
What is rapport?
A close and harmonious relationship in which there is common understanding, based on authenticity.
Let’s break this down to identify how best to build rapport with our people:
- Be Transparent: Create a culture of transparency and authenticity with your team. To make sure the organization is successful, have an honest discussion about the most essential goals for this year and what strengths can be used to pursue them confidently. Also, don’t hesitate in expressing any concerns if a team member is not meeting expectations – open dialogue will foster trust, which is necessary for collaboration while creating an environment of openness and honesty.
- Understand Their Drivers: Uncover what triggers the best performance from your team by understanding each member’s unique motivations and ambitions. Dedicate some time to learning more about each team member’s personal aspirations, as well as professional goals, over a period of 30 days.
- Validate Their Uniqueness: Identify their strengths. Reinforce their potential and what makes them good in their role. Be vocal about their strengths and transparent about their key sales vulnerabilities you want them to work on. Coach them consistently to improve their weaknesses. This helps validate you really understand them. List your people and write their best sales strength and key sales vulnerability. Make this part of your next weekly call and create a coaching plan with them.
- Show You Care: Demonstrate your commitment to their success by being a driving force in the relationship, always striving for excellence and looking ahead towards mutually beneficial results.
Doing these four simple things can build rapport with your team and also rejuvenate existing relationships.
Having focused on rapport, does your team trust you to lead them? To be a world class coach and business leader, we need to demonstrate we are trustworthy:
- Be Reliable: We need to be reliable in delivering on our commitments to them, from being on time for meetings to the big things – such as keeping our word on confidential matters. If you say you are going to do something by a particular date, do it, and if you cannot deliver for some reason, be open as to the reasons why. Trust requires consistency in action and words. If you lose it, it will take a long time to rebuild it.
- Be a Great Coach: Have regular sessions every week. Keep your coaching positive but with known expectations from them too. Holding them accountable for their agreed actions helps build your credibility and in turn, their trust in you.
- Be Consistent: Treat everyone fairly – especially when it comes to practical yet emotional issues, such as territory allocation and commissions. Be open about the decisions you are making and why you are making them. If you need to deliver bad news to one of your sellers, then do it with empathy and caring… and most of all, complete transparency.
- Be Focused: Respect your sellers by being attentive. When in meetings with them, do not get distracted. Ensure they feel that every time you are dealing with them – that your single focus is on their success!
I encourage every leader to evaluate your rapport and trust with your team. Start 2023 by taking the actions above, remembering by investing in each team member professionally, personally, and emotionally, it will reap major dividends for them, you, and the business overall.
Create a list of all your sellers or team members – document their strengths, weaknesses, and actions you can take to build rapport and trust.