How good are you with those difficult conversations?

How good are you with those difficult conversations?

From time to time you feel the need to sit down with one of your team to have one of 'those' conversations. You know the type. The tough love conversation that may be a little uncomfortable but is absolutely the right thing to do!

It's one of those leadership activities that many sales leaders find difficult despite knowing that it is the only way to move someone from stuck to unstuck. Normally it's because us humans don't want to upset people, to appear unkind or make people feel uncomfortable.

Let's take an alternative perspective...

Imagine that you are unconsciously doing something that has a negative effect on the people around you. You have no idea that you are creating this negative impact. Nobody tells you because they don't want to make you uncomfortable or upset you but they are all feeling it and maybe even talking about you amongst themselves. How kind is that? How would you feel when you eventually find out?

Having that difficult conversation is the kind and right thing to do.

Give your sales person the opportunity to change

If you say nothing and hope the issue goes away by itself you are inadvertently saying that the behaviour you want them to change is acceptable. They will continue to behave in that way when they are triggered to do so. They often have no conscious awareness of the impact they are having.

By bringing it to their rapport and with compassion, you have a really good chance of shifting their perspective and their behaviour. You can agree on the first steps and a review date.

That way you can both leave the conversation feeling good about yourselves and each other.

Some pointers to keep you on track...

Convey your positive intent

Make it clear you are on their side. Always do this face to face...even if it's on Skype or similar

Describe only what you have personally observed

Never have a conversation about behaviour that you have not witnessed for yourself. Someone else's version will always be distorted by their viewpoint and could be wildly inaccurate based on their perspective of the person or behaviour...and how it affects them. Keep it specific and factual and about the behaviour...not them as a person.

State the impact of the behaviour

Increase their awareness of the consequences of their behaviour...for them and others. Use a supportive tone.

Ask your sales person to respond

Give them an opportunity to share their perspective. Do not interrupt. If you've done a good job they are unlikely to jump to defence. If they do let them air their thoughts and summarise your understanding back to them.

Focus on solutions

This is the whole point of the conversation. Get your sales person to come up with their own solution, first steps and review date.

Use coaching questions throughout

This is not your opportunity to show how much you know or to share how you would fix it.

You really are supporting and developing your sales people with every one of these conversations. Whilst they are not easy...the more of them you have, the easier they become. The best thing...the results always make it oh so worth it!

Until next time,

Leigh :)
Leigh Ashton
Leigh Ashton> website | all articles
Hi I'm Leigh Ashton of The Sales Consultancy

Whether you're a small business or a leading brand, an area manager or a Chief Executive, whether you're new to sales or an experienced sales professional. Even if you're not in sales at all but want to understand it, you've come to the right place.

The World of Sales is changing.

Today's conventional sales training doesn't address the psychological barriers that get in their way.

My approach takes your sales team through a process that:

* Helps them identify their psychological barriers and gives them the tools to overcome them
* Teaches them how the mind works so they can keep motivated and stay focused
* Gives them the ability to identify the psychological patterns of their clients and prospects so they connect with them at a deeper level and close more sales

And at a higher level...

* It creates more success in other areas of their lives so they are happier generally...and happier sales people generate more sales

Wherever you are on your personal sales journey what's the best course of action for YOU.

- Sales Training - that actually gets results
- Leadership and Management
- Personal Coaching and Mentoring
- Sales Mentoring Programme
- NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and how it can help you accelerate your success
- Keynote Speaking
  • /data/userPictures/56C99A90-1CCA-4342-98FD-BC0040157297.jpgSegun Medaiyese1/18/2020 5:32:41 PM
    I had one of such difficult moments with a colleague about 6 years ago, but i mustered the courage to do the needful .

    He was really having a very bad body odor and our other colleagues sometimes walked out of the office when he walked in because of the bad smell that colors the atmosphere.

    They complained to me and i decided to attack the issue head on. I called him in a one on one meeting and told him about the problem and why it should be corrected with regular showers, deodorants and antiperspirants as quickly as possible. He admitted he didn't even know he had body odor. Amazing !

    In 1-2 weeks, his condition drastically improved and i was glad i had to engage him in that brief chat.

    Thank you for sharing, Leigh

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton1/19/2020 9:12:03 AM
    That's great Segun. It's so rewarding when you choose to do the 'right and kind thing' rather than the 'easy thing'
    It takes courage but everyone benefits...especially the person you're talking with.

  • /data/userPictures/A995A3AD-5F53-45DC-8F04-317C34E9802F.jpgFidel Zamora-Valenzuela1/29/2020 1:27:44 PM
    Great advice. Using a supportive tone will hopefully keep the conversation positive.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton1/30/2020 5:22:35 AM
    If your intention is positive, your heart will align you in the right way for all concerned @Fidel ;)

  • /data/userPictures/ED7C5900-7FE4-4F9B-AFBD-0A4C1FE94A9E.jpgJacob Molnar2/12/2020 12:07:36 PM
    Great post Leigh, as someone who has had multiple college and high school employees working for my business while I myself was still a student provided multiple situations where I needed to intervene with what I experienced as difficult conversation in order to correct an issue. From what you stated about finding a solution to a problem, do you believe that an employee should get more than one chance to correct a fault after receiving a direct talking to?


  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton2/13/2020 12:55:10 PM
    'Direct Taking To' sounds a bit telling to me Jacob. Difficult conversations are a mutual conversation where you talk 'with' the person and not 'to' them. Telling never works. Get them to come up with their own solution and support them through the steps. It may take a number of attempts to break a bad habit and replace it with a better one. If someone is progressing that is still progress. Trust your instincts!

  • /data/userPictures/79A3E582-1EB2-4E42-BE3C-D1AF9E815D1A.jpgVaheed Shahnam3/26/2020 2:57:48 AM
    Great article! Food for thought.

  • /data/userPictures/3243AF74-6C14-4A30-9F93-4A87DE5AAC5A.jpgLeigh Ashton3/26/2020 7:29:45 AM
    Thanks Vaheed...delighted it triggered new thoughts :)