Tips for having challenging conversations with managers & leadership
You can not keep things from your boss. They are in that position for a reason, and you are the one who gets to tell them the good, bad and the ugly! One of my favorite managers I worked for wanted the information straight. No corporate double-speak, no flowery language, and NO LIES! “Regardless of your results – or lack of them – you’ll fare a lot better if you are open and honest about why you’re falling short of the necessary standard.” (Insights for Professionals)
Your product or service is literally everything your company is. In order to effectively sell you have to understand it, inside and out. If you are not clear on what you are selling, speak up! Go over your previous copy, emails and social media posts and bring examples to your boss that don’t make sense.
“Could this be more clear?”
“If I’m confused by this, so is our audience.”
Whatever you unearth, communicating your concerns & opportunities to your boss can be nerve-wracking! No worries, we’re here to help walk you through exactly what to do to prep for your meeting with leadership.
1. First Things First – Know Your Stats
If you’re on a sales or marketing team, you know the word “funnels” all too well. Especially for sales teams, the bottom of funnel (BOFU) is where your customers decide to buy your product or service. If your BOFU is light on leads, review the middle and top funnels to identify where customers are being lost. “Understanding how to guide consumers through the buyer cycle is at the core of every sales team’s success.” (Insights for Professionals)
Bringing this to light will give you and your boss a solid jumping off point to adjust course. Another bonus, you will be able to talk to your team with more clarity and give instruction confidently on where things are lacking & how to get to the path of success.
Keep reading to learn 3 more steps to take before talking to your boss about underperforming sales.
2. Prep a visual aid, like an Infographic
Now that you know your stats, make a visual aid to help guide the conversation. Keep in mind you reviewed the data for awhile and your boss could be hearing this information for the first time! Give them an easy way to digest and understand your analysis.
Not sure where to start? Kroma offers tons of plug & play infographics you can use as a jump-off point. Just download and enter your information! This is an impactful way to visually express your concerns and discuss solutions.
Why are visual aids helpful during challenging conversations?
- Immediately Level Set – What you’re meeting about with your boss is just one portion of their jam-packed week. Help them understand what’s happening more quickly with a visual tool.
- Clarify & Consolidate – You might get nervous in a challenging meeting with your stakeholders. Having something drawn up will help you clearly & concisely show your analysis.
- Propose Next Steps – If there is a problem, your boss will be impressed that you have already laid out action items to help course-correct – a visual aid shows preparedness & helps drive the conversation to the true goal – what to do next.
3. Stay Focused on the Data
Numbers do not lie. Sticking to factual information – like data – while meeting with leadership can help guide the conversation away from “I feel” or “I think” statements. There is always time for those interpretations after establishing the baseline, but make sure to continually point back to your numbers & data when pointing out any potential pitfalls or areas for opportunity.
Numbers speak volumes, use our data visualization decks to create stunning slides showing the current numbers and where the numbers could be with a few shifts in approach. Remember to focus on the opportunities!
“(Using data) softens the blow of the criticism and also shows that you are aware of both the positives and negatives of the given situation.”
4. Go ALL-out with Regular Presentations
Don’t let yourself get taken off guard with a random “Hey, can you put a deck together for this?” request from your manager – schedule monthly or quarterly sales presentations so you can keep track of progress & make realistic goals and reasonable pivots as data comes in.
Our go-to power punch? Combine insights and data into one epic slide deck! Fully flesh out your thoughts and tell the story with upscale visual impact. Impress your boss so thoroughly they will forget they are upset about underperforming sales 😉
“If a problem is recurring, or if your concerns have not been met with recognition, don’t be afraid to get support. Assuming the problem affects more than just you, ask your coworkers to voice their complaints in a similar manner.” (Inc.com)
Extra Resources to Keep You Landing and Expanding!
Some extra mini tips you can use when preparing to meet with you boss:
- Schedule your meeting with your boss at a convenient time.
- Give yourself plenty of time to present your findings.
- Send them the infographic, data deck or presentation ahead of time.
- Never blindside your boss! “Focus on the facts, and come to your boss with a solid reasoning for why the problem needs to be addressed.” (Inc.com)
Add a Brag Book Entry for Yourself
Being prepared is your best friend in these situations. It will put you, your boss and your team at ease when the issues can be spoken about competently. Make sure to keep your deck and notes on how it went as well as results for your Brag Book!
When issues are addressed and everyone is on the same page the deal-flow can continue! We know talking to your boss is easier said than done, but your boss, your team and your company will benefit from you speaking up! Using these Kroma tools will help keep your thoughts organized which increases your confidence during the discussion!