You Have to Stop Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Difficult Conversations
Difficult conversations are as inevitable as they are necessary. These discussions, whether addressing underperformance, behavioural issues, or compensation adjustments, are crucial for maintaining a healthy sales environment and driving performance. However, a surprising number of sales managers avoid these critical conversations, a trend that undermines team potential and poses a significant threat to organizational success.

A Look at the Stats

Recent surveys and studies have revealed an uncomfortable truth: many sales managers regularly sidestep difficult conversations. According to a survey conducted by a leading sales consultancy, approximately 70% of sales managers admit to avoiding difficult conversations. Further data suggests that this avoidance is a pervasive issue, with nearly 50% of managers reporting discomfort when initiating these tough discussions.

Why the Avoidance?

The reasons behind this avoidance are deeply rooted in human psychology. Firstly, fear of conflict is a significant factor. Many managers worry that directly confronting an issue could lead to tension, damage relationships, or provoke retaliation. This fear is compounded by a lack of confidence in their ability to navigate the conversation effectively and reach a positive outcome.

Secondly, there’s a misconception that positivity is synonymous with a strong management style. Some managers believe maintaining a constantly positive environment, without any confrontational discussions, is the key to high performance. This belief often leads to unresolved issues festering under the surface, ultimately harming team dynamics and performance.

Additionally, a lack of training or preparation plays a crucial role. Many sales managers ascend to their positions because of their stellar sales records, not their managerial prowess or their ability to handle difficult conversations. Without the proper training or resources, these managers find themselves ill-equipped to tackle leadership challenges, including having difficult conversations.

The Cost of Avoiding Difficult Conversations

The implications of avoiding difficult conversations can be detrimental. Unaddressed issues can lead to a decline in team morale, as members often perceive a lack of action as indifference or acceptance of subpar performance. This perception can erode trust in leadership, diminish team cohesion, and lower overall productivity. Furthermore, ignoring problems doesn’t make them disappear; it often exacerbates them, leading to more significant issues.


The solution lies not in avoiding difficult conversations but in embracing them as a vital component of BOLD sales leadership. Organizations must invest in training programs that equip managers with the skills and confidence to handle tough discussions constructively. This training and coaching should cover conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and communication strategies, empowering managers to approach these conversations with a mindset geared toward resolution and growth.

Moreover, fostering a culture of openness and transparency can demystify the concept of difficult conversations. Encouraging regular feedback sessions, where both managers and team members can express concerns and suggestions, can help normalize the idea of addressing issues head-on. Such an environment facilitates more straightforward handling of challenging discussions and promotes a culture of continuous improvement and accountability.

Difficult Conversations

Avoiding difficult conversations is pervasive among sales managers, driven by fear, misconceptions about positivity, and a lack of proper training. However, the cost of avoidance is high, leading to diminished team performance, eroded trust, and unresolved issues. By investing in comprehensive training and coaching, organizations can equip their sales managers to handle these essential conversations, ultimately driving team success and organizational growth. In sales, tackling difficult conversations head-on is a critical managerial skill and can be a competitive advantage.

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Steven Rosen - Book a Call

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Steven Rosen 2022

Hi, I’m Steven Rosen, and I’ve been coaching sales executives for over 20 years!


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Steven Rosen - Executive Sales Coach


Steven A. Rosen

Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. His focused coaching helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager’s Success Guide.

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