Resolving sales team differences

September 1, 2000
Jeff Magee
Pharmaceutical Representative

Dealing with internal conflict.

Getting individuals to open up, engage and participate with one another in persuit of (mutual) account development, without igniting differences, is a major hurdle to sustaining the success of an organization.

The combination of strong wills, peaking personality differences, conflicting agendas and differing priorities all add to the volatile mixture of potential factors that can lead to the breakdown of a cohesive sales team.

So how does one work to minimize these differences or even avoid them outright?

There are simple action plans that can be followed that will help one work through potential differences and conclude with a positive resolution.

Whether you're the coach of such a team or the member of the team with an impending breakdown, consider these action steps:

Examine the basic relationship among the sales team participants. There are four cornerstones to every effective and healthy relationship (see figure). Determine which side is in danger and work to repair it, be respectful of it and reinforce it.

Establish the ground rules for how you like to communicate and how you like to be communicated to. Let others know this, as it will aid significantly in eliminating future breakdowns. Conversely, find out how those around you like to be communicated with and incorporate that information into your dealings with them.

When entering into engagements with other people, have a mindset that is open to possibilities and work to create an environment that is conducive to all possible interactions.

Look at the differences between individuals as an opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue, explore the flexibility of each participant and then find common ground from which positive resolution can be achieved. To do this, start by determining each side's position. Then, instead of debating those positions, find out why each party holds the position they do - in essence, what motivates each person to hold their respective positions.

Next, evaluate what your position and interest levels are, to determine what the acceptable actions are. Determine the flexibility within your position as it relates to your worst and best case scenarios. Do the same exercise for the opposing position. You may recognize that there are multiple acceptable outcomes on your side and the other party's side. These areas are common ground points for conversation among all parties. Differences are now coming into alignment and resolution is within grasp.

Establish an agreement and commit to implementing a solution that evolves from a commonality between each party - it doesn't violate your worst case scenario, and doesn't surpass your best case scenario. Now you have an acceptable resolution to a sales team difference! PR