Irrespective of how good a relationship you have with your sales team, there will be times when you have to have to have sensitive conversations with team members.
Whether it’s a performance issue or a behavioural discussion that’s required, introducing it effectively is vital if the person is going to agree to listen, understand and take the necessary action.
Whatever the reason, make the first part of the interaction effective by using sentences like these:
I have a sensitive issue that I’d like to raise with you. Is now a good time?
There’s no easy way to raise this, so I’ll do it the best way I can
I have one or two things to say, and it’s not going to be easy
I think it’s important for you to know what I have to say about (blank) so let’s have this conversation
This is one of the most difficult parts of my job and I could just let it go, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of us
We need to talk about a delicate subject and I need your co-operation in finding a positive answer to this. You Ok with that?
I’m sure that if I had an issue with something, you would like me to raise it, rather than leave it festering, wouldn’t you?
This is a tough subject for me to raise, especially with one of my better sales guys
Is this a good time for you? We need to cover quite a sensitive area, so I want to ensure we’ve got time to cover it
You’ll see that the conversation has to set off on an agreeable, positive and progressive note.
There needn’t be any blame attached right at the start (you’ve forced me to have this conversation) or an apologetic opening (sorry that we have to discuss this).
Instead, be aware that sensitive issues may be responded to with a defensive reply.
Help the person to recognise there is progress to be made if you both approach the subject with an adult frame of mind.
By starting with an appropriate and suitable opening for the specific discussion, you create the foundation to build on for the rest of the sensitive conversation and provide opportunities to progress at this difficult time.