When dealing with people, there will always be rough patches to navigate. Here’s how.

How to Manage Relationships When Things Get Tough

Amy Volas
9 min readAug 7, 2022


Relationships done well and right are the backbone for a long-lived career in sales. And as a sales leader, relationships are mission-critical to what you do daily.

Think about the power of relationships for:

  • Hiring
  • Retention
  • Team building
  • The buyer journey
  • Having hard conversations when things get tricky in startups
  • With Founders
  • Missing a quarter
  • Performance management
  • Partnerships

I firmly believe that the tone and expectations start at the top. As a sales leader, it’s your job to set the stage early and often for your team, the Founders, Board, and your colleagues. You can never lose the ‘sum of our parts’ mindset as a sales leader — it’s virtually impossible to do anything without the right people, in the right roles, and doing the right work consistently.

This quote from McKinsey captures this well:

“The people you are leading have big expectations of you. They want you to be perfect and often forget that you are human. But the more human you are with them, the more trust and empathy they lend to you.”

To be an effective leader, you need to establish trust, and healthy relationships are at the foundation of that trust.

When you establish trust with your team, you become someone that they’re eager to work with and help whenever possible. And that absolutely parlays to the buyer’s journey and experience as well.

Navigating internal and external relationships is key to a happy and productive team and results that move the needle in your career and the company.

Now comes the fun part… relationships are complex. They’re not one-size-fits-all, and they can be difficult and, at times, borderline maddening. When things get tough, it’s important to be ready to handle those conversations with respect, an open mind, grace, humility, and honesty.



Amy Volas

Helping SaaS startups hire executive Sales and CS leaders without the cringe ⋆ Personally closed $100MM+ ⋆ Founder/CEO ⋆ 2 Exits ⋆ LP ⋆ Sharing lessons here