Don’t Only Focus on Customers: Improving Internal Relationships

Sales culture is often hyper-focused on relationships with potential clients, but the truth is that internal relationships affect work performance just as dramatically, if not more so.

In their 2014 Employee Engagement & Organizational Culture Report, TINYpulse found that peer motivation was the top source of motivation to excel in the workplace. Unfortunately, they also discovered that only 21% of employees feel valued at work.

Many times, we become so focused on making a sale that we forget how much easier it is to do so with internal support–especially from our superiors. So here are a few strategies for improving internal relationships so that your company morale and productivity stay in tip-top shape.


Clear Communication

Just like any other relationship, communication is key in the workplace. When expectations aren’t communicated well, it becomes practically impossible to meet them, which will result in an unending cycle of dissatisfaction.

If you’re delegating tasks, make sure your instructions and expectations are specific and crystal-clear. You don’t want to be seen as overly demanding, but you do need to be direct.

If you’re working under the authority of someone else, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Asking questions demonstrates that you are invested in doing your work well, and a reputation of sincerity will carry you well into the future.


Practicing Empathy

It’s important to practice the soft-skills of sales not just with your clients and prospects, but also with your co-workers. No matter where you lie on the business hierarchy, empathy is key.

Yes, that includes empathy for your superiors. It’s all too easy to fall into resenting the people in charge, so it’s important that you take the time to put yourself in your boss’ shoes. Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, tells Forbes that we must resist the inherent friction of the boss-employee relationship. After all, “they have a job to do, just like you, and there’s a lot about their job that you don’t know or see.”

Meanwhile, you should also make a conscious effort to empathize with the rest of your workplace peers as well. Sales does have a high turnover, which makes it more difficult to maintain relationships. However, those peer relationships are integral when it comes to maintaining a productive and happy workplace.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition

TINYpulse’s survey revealed that 44% of employees give peer-to-peer recognition “when they have an easy tool to do so.” Yet, so many people still feel undervalued at work.

Be intentional about recognizing the accomplishments of your peers, even if it’s just a comment in the breakroom or a cupcake to celebrate a sale. If there’s not a good tool in place, don’t be afraid to advocate for one.

Bosses, this means incorporating tools for recognition into your company culture. There are many options to incentivize or implement a peer-to-peer feedback system, which will make it much easier to stay motivated.


Give and Receive Feedback

Feedback itself is another component of healthy internal communication. Seek feedback from your employees and your co-workers, and actually listen. This promotes open communication in the workplace, as well as an avenue for improving internal operations.

However, it’s also important to recognize the difference between unsolicited feedback and constructive feedback. Give feedback when it is asked for, and don’t shy away from accepting feedback yourself. Not all of it is fun to hear, but when your coworkers see you taking it into account and responding accordingly, they’ll feel heard and appreciated, which ultimately boosts morale and productivity.


Under-Promise, Over-Deliver

This is something you’ll see leadership experts promote over and over again. It’s tempting to make promises. We have all had those moments where we accept a task automatically without considering if we actually have time for it.

It may sound cynical, but it’s better to do what you can to ensure expectations of your work are realistic. That way, instead of disappointing someone when you don’t deliver the ideal work that you promised, your work is valued for what it truly is, and will more than likely exceed the original expectations.


From the Inside Out

Overall, the better relationships are inside the workplace, the easier it will be to cultivate better relationships with clients and customers and thus make more sales. Also, sometimes it’s just nice to look forward to a day at the office.