Shut Down Negativity Before it Shuts You Down

BY Kathy Crosett
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You’ve worked hard to build your team and your department’s reputation. The last thing you need is negativity, of any sort, to leak out to clients or competitors. Check out these tips from Colleen Francis at Engage and stop the negativity on your team.

Francis’ recent post focuses on a team’s negativity as it relates to the competition. Too many sales groups build cohesion by emphasizing what’s wrong with the enemy. The talk may start in a sales meeting where one of your members is blowing off steam, especially if she lost a big account to the competition. Frustration is understandable. But frustration can lead to negativity and competition-bashing.

Losing to the Competition

If you allow this to go on in your sales meetings, your team members may well take their negative talk out to the street and talk with clients and prospects. It’s your job as manager to turn that talk around. Acknowledge the frustration about losing the deal. Then focus on what your team can do differently next time. Maybe they need to highlight different strengths of your product or service when they’re up against that competitor. They may also need to talk with you about price flexibility or bundling their offer with extra services in order to make the sale.

Dealing with the Nightmare Customer

Another source of negativity in many departments comes from having to deal with a difficult customer. After signing the deal, some customers can turn into nightmares. They’ll start asking for extra training that wasn’t part of the original service agreement. Or, they’ll ask for the product to be customized because they’re not exactly happy with the way it’s working.

No matter what the specific problem is, these customers spend a lot of time and energy calling and emailing your team members and making demands. This situation can generate stress and aggravation and before you know it, your salesperson is complaining constantly. Even worse, the complaining may be going on at the local coffee shop where other professionals can overhear the conservation.

Francis relays a personal anecdote about a boss who fired people who spoke negatively about customers. As a manager, you need to turn around these situations. Remind your team members that complaining in private or public generates negative energy. It can also damage their reputation as well as the company’s. Work with your salespeople to help them use the customer’s complaints as opportunities for add-​on sales.

But you should also listen to the details of your salesperson’s encounters with the customer. In some cases, it’s the customer who needs to be fired.

As sales manager, it’s your job to insert yourself into these awkward situations before they get out of hand. Show yourself to be a leader by always maintaining the positive attitude you want your team to have.