Your sales reps might be bubbling cauldrons of new ideas and valuable suggestions, but you won’t know if they don’t speak up. While some people love sharing their opinions and thoughts, others find it difficult to share what’s on their minds. As a sales manager, you can help foster open communication and create a culture of dialogue.

Ben Brearley, founder of Thoughtful Leader, says leaders can take a few simple steps to persuade their team members to share their questions, concerns, ideas and thoughts. We share Brearley’s four strategies in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Involve your sales reps. You may be inadvertently omitting your team members by doing all the planning yourself. This leads others to feel left out and not part of a cohesive team. To correct course, Brearley encourages sales managers to involve their reps in planning conversations, talks about roles and responsibilities, and even discussions about how to improve the team. Over time, your sales reps will begin to see that you value their feedback.

2. Make yourself available to your team. If your sales reps rarely have access to you, they probably won’t feel comfortable engaging with you. That’s why Brearley recommends scheduling meetings specifically to get your reps’ input or booking time during the day for them to reach out to you. When you stay consistent with these times, your sales reps know when they can come to you with ideas or concerns.

3. Make each meeting a safe space. Your employees may hesitate to bring up issues regarding the team because they fear getting in trouble or being seen as the problem. To help encourage them to speak up, you must reassure them that they can safely discuss whatever is on their mind. This takes trust, which you can build over time by avoiding blame, intentionally asking for input and offering different forums. Remember that not everyone likes to speak up in big meetings. Look for other ways to connect with your team members, whether that’s through a one-on-one video call or an informal meeting at a park near your office.

4. Directly ask your employees what is on their mind. Brearley says sometimes managers need to push some buttons to get their employees to speak up. Ask something like “I saw you looked upset in the meeting the other day. What’s up?” or “How are you and [person] getting along lately?” While this shouldn’t be the first approach, it’s worth a try if your team members aren’t coming forward, says Brearley.

Building a great sales team means ensuring that each team member feels comfortable and empowered to share their ideas. Managers can help establish a culture of trust and open communication by showing their team members that they have their best interests in mind. Be sure to involve your sales reps in meetings, directly ask for their input if they hesitate to share and aim to be visible and available to your team. Remember that teams that speak up are teams that succeed.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Ben Brearley is the founder of Thoughtful Leader and is an experienced leader, certified coach and MBA.