Sales Management

5 Questions a Sales Manager Can Ask to Create a Culture of Trust

Ted was a successful producer with more than a decade of experience when he participated in a 6-month, virtual Beyond Insurance coaching, mentoring, and performance enhancement program.  His income was significantly higher than fellow program participants — and higher than even Ted had imagined he would earn.  But he wasn’t happy and could not figure out why.  He enjoyed selling but struggled to feel motivated.

As Abraham Maslow discovered in his Theory of Human Motivation, money is not enough to motivate people.  Maslow’s theory showed that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs – physiological, survival, safety, love, and esteem.  Since Ted’s need for money and survival were being met, why wasn’t he motivated?  Why was he so unhappy?

The real issue was that Ted didn’t feel an adequate level of trust or appreciation from his sales manager.  As long as Ted was meeting or exceeding his quotas, his manager left him alone.  The manager thought he was empowering Ted.  Ted, on the other hand, felt that his manager didn’t care about him, played favorites by meeting with other producers, and never recognized him verbally for his success.  As a result, Ted was questioning his future with the agency – and also in the industry!

To create a culture of trust and appreciation within your agency or team, it is essential to provide job enrichment and motivation for each producer while, at the same time, not micro-managing them.  It’s the delicate balance between encouragement and being over-controlling that stimulates peak producer performance.

The key to building this trust is to actively listen to each producer to help him or her achieve their goals. A Harvard Business Review article states that “a few progressive companies have been able to coax better performance from their teams by treating their sales force like a portfolio of investments that require different levels and kinds of attention.”

Schedule a meeting with each producer.

Prior to the meeting, review their goals and ask yourself:

  1. Which goal(s) will give each producer the most energy?
  2. What goal(s) is each producer most committed to?
  3. Which goal(s) will create the most value to each producer?
  4. What goals(s) are fully within each producer’s control?
  5. In three years, how important will this goal(s) be to him or her?

When you hold your meeting with the producer, share your observations about his or her goals.

Then start a dialogue with the producer and consider asking:

  1. What’s working for you? What goals are you passionate about?
  2. What‘s not working for you? What goals are you just not committed to achieving?
  3. What goals will create the most value for you this week/month/year?
  4. What can we do together to improve on what you did last week/month/year?
  5. What support is needed to help you reach these goals?

If you listen carefully to your producer’s answers to these questions and act on them accordingly, you will show that you genuinely care about them.  You’ll begin to create a culture of mutual trust, appreciation, and motivation.

What motivates producers in your agency to achieve higher levels of performance?

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