Is it more important for my staff to like me or respect me?  This is the question that all Smart Sales Managers ask of themselves.  Your answer will greatly depend on your management style.  I have another question – Who says you have to decide between the two?

This was a recent discussion with one of my online sales training colleagues in Edmonton.  The two of us have known each other for many years and have very similar philosophies.  Here’s what we decided upon.

The Smart Manager Chooses Both Respect And Like

When most people are given no alternative, they tend to choose respect.  The sentiment is that respect from your staff is an important part of being a manager.  When people respect you, they are making a statement.  You are worthy of their admiration.  For a manager, this is a personal endorsement that carries great impact.  It means that your staff will listen to you and take your advice and direction with credibility.   Very true!

Respect your Sales Manager’s role 

A Manager that lacks respect from his or her staff will find it very difficult to accomplish anything.  I have often told Salespeople if you don’t respect your Sales Manager, at least respect their rank.  He or she has a job to do and it doesn’t need to be any harder contending with someone who makes their personal opinion public knowledge.  This can be very damaging to other Salespeople who don’t need to be negatively influenced.   Taking the high road with professional courtesy shows character and self-discipline.

Don’t get too close to your staff

This is why many people will choose respect verses like.  Many Sales Managers feel that there should be specific boundaries within the relationships that you have with your staff.  Getting too close could mean that certain people would be treated with different rules than others.  In this situation, the Manager or the staff member themselves allows this to happen.  Should this occur, many management decisions will be questioned on the sales floor.  Unfortunately, this also gives people something to gossip about.  The smart Salespeople stay away from this because usually nothing positive comes from it.  Top producers focus on their relationships with their clients and meeting their needs.

The power of picking both respect and like

There is a category of top producing Sales Managers that have the made the decision to incorporate both.  They feel very strongly about their belief in this philosophy.  They will be quick to tell you why.   Let’s first acknowledge that the job of Sales Manager is challenging.  As a Salesperson, you’re accountable for reaching your sales target.   Your Sales Manager has the responsibility for everyone’s targets combined together.  General Managers, Sales Directors and VPs of Sales look to their Sales Managers to achieve and exceed those numbers.  While they expect Salespeople to be on target, they assign the overall number to the Sales Manager and let them appropriate individual budgets to their Salespeople.

The title of coach in professional sports

Coaches don’t score points or prevent the opposing team from doing so.  Yet, when the team records far more losses than victories, it’s not the players who get fired.  The job of coach is to lead, teach and mentor.  I can hear some Sales Managers saying “Yeah, but the coach doesn’t treat his players like his pals, does he?”  I guess that’s a personal decision that every leader makes.  Being someone’s pal and getting someone to respect and like you are two different things.

Here’s the benefits of the combination of both:

  • Sales Managers know that Salespeople who respect them and like them will work harder.   No one wants to make a great Manager look bad to their direct report.  I have yet to meet a great Salesperson who doesn’t push themselves harder when they know the boss of their well liked and respected Manager is watching.
  •  It has a major influence on employee retention.  Salespeople don’t want to leave a company where they respect and like their Sales Manager.  They are appreciative of their Sales Manager and feel they have much to lose by leaving when the competition knocks on their door.
  • It builds morale.  When a Sales Manager stands for respect and likeability, he or she leads by example.  The most amazing thing tends to happen.  The Salespeople follow the leader.  They feel good about their relationship with their Sales Manager and are far more likely to duplicate the same on the sales floor with their colleagues.  There are fewer fights over accounts and Salespeople make an extra effort to be nice to each other.
  • It builds winning teams.  Don’t trust me.  Take a look at the long term sales results of Sales Managers who are respected and liked.  You will not only find more success there, you will see a stronger desire by Salespeople to consider Management.  If Salespeople can actually believe that they can be respected and liked, they are more likely to think that Management is a professional and personal choice.

And here’s the best reason for Sales Managers to consider both

It’s simply more fun.  You can measure the atmosphere of a Sales Department by the amount of laughter you hear in a day.  If you want your Salespeople (or any staff members) to practise excellent levels of customer service, make your company an enjoyable place where they like to come to work.

One more thing…

When you, as a Sales Manager, have to deliver tough news to the team tell them that you don’t expect them to like it.  However, you think they deserve to know the reasons behind the decision.  It might  help them better deal with it.  Then, let them have a few days to get over it.  They will realize that there’s nothing they can do about it but get over it, move on and go make more client calls.

What do you think?  I’m always interested in your opinion.  Share your thoughts in the comments section.  If you liked this post, share it on your favorite social media platform.

Coming in 2016

Based on requests from individual Salespeople, we will be releasing our first online self-paced sales training program in 2016.  It will be very affordable and based on the content that you read in this Blog.  Stay tuned in the new year for more information on it.

Thanks for reading!

Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY 




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