5 Tips for Managing Your Sales Manager
Consider yourself lucky if you and your sales manager have a great relationship. And if your relationship doesn’t fall into that category, then it’s your challenge to make it work to your advantage as much as possible. There are times when salespeople don’t get the quality of sales management that they need and/or deserve. Accepting that situation is actually unacceptable. Why? Because it’s going to be more difficult to grow and prosper if you “go along to get along.” Mediocre sales managers tend to breed mediocre salespeople. Since you aren’t in a position to get rid of your sales manager, you can either seek another sales position, or take steps to have a workable relationship with the one you have now.
Here are some of the key steps that you can and should take:
- Be clear and open with your communication. Any healthy relationship between two people requires two-way sharing of information, ideas, opinions, etc. It’s almost impossible to know what the other person is thinking unless you can share those thoughts and concerns with each other. Through some blend of email, meetings, phone calls, and texts, a savvy salesperson will build strong lines of communication with his or her sales manager. Obviously, the tone of your messages needs to respect the position, but the content of those messages should give your sales manager a clear understanding of whatever is on your mind.
- Make it clear that you take full responsibility for your actions. Taking charge of your business doesn’t mean that you’re a maverick or a renegade. It means that you “play by the rules” but that you hold yourself accountable for the results of your work. The “rules” are what they are and it’s a salesperson’s responsibility to figure out how to be successful without breaking them. Too often, salespeople will blame “the rules” for their failure to meet a goal or achieve a designated objective. Making it clear that the buck stops with you generates professional respect from any sales manager!
- Suggest your own goals for growth and revenue development. Don’t wait for your sales manager to start this process. It’s inevitable that you will be having periodic discussions about your growth and revenue targets, and taking the initiative is much to your advantage. It’s consistent with Tip #2, that you’re once again taking charge of your business instead of waiting for someone else to do so. Stepping up on this one also demonstrates your understanding of the “bigger picture” that your sales manager deals with on a regular basis. And would you rather have goals that you defined or ones that are defined for you?
- Anticipate and respond to requests in advance of them being made. This is a skill that applies to clients and sales managers alike. Being able to see where things are going before your sales manager gets there will make your professional life much simpler and more enjoyable. It’s being on the offensive in a positive and proactive way. It also shows your sales manager that you’re on top of your game, and not oblivious to the critical pieces of the mission. It’s worth the extra time and effort to “read the tea leaves” and act accordingly.
- Always present your sales manager with a solution and never a problem. Most sales managers, regardless of their own abilities, resent the idea of having to constantly solve their salespeople’s problems. Bringing nothing but problems to their attention also undermines any confidence and/or respect that sales manager may have had for a given salesperson. Having a conversation about your suggested solution is much more productive and once again shows that you, the salesperson, are taking charge of your business.
Healthy business relationships are built on mutual respect. You don’t have to be “best friends” with your manager to be successful. Defining yourself as a reliable, creative, and productive salesperson is the winning combination!
About the Author
Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.