On our sales leadership blog, Carew CEO and CSO give their tips, advice, and inspiration for effective leadership. They talk in-depth about the latest trends and insights in leadership, how to overcome common leadership challenges, and how to get the most out of individual team members. Today, let’s flip the script and discuss how sales professionals can get the most from their sales managers.
Sales professionals may not always consider their role in the quality of sales leadership they receive. Many of us assume the nature of our relationship with our managers is determined solely or mostly by them, and we put ourselves in a subordinate position. If you’re a Carew training program graduate, you may be thinking of the dependency-subordinate relationship model, where one party yields all the power and influence and dictates to the subordinate party. But sales professionals have a huge role to play in this dynamic and can take steps to reshape the relationship with their managers in a way that adds to their job satisfaction and meets their specific needs.
Consider these guidelines to get the most from your sales manager:
Invest in the Relationship. Your relationship with your sales manager is not unlike your relationship with customers or anyone else. It requires care and cultivation to be productive and mutually beneficial. Continually look for opportunities to provide value to your sales manager beyond your sales/revenue contribution. One consideration is how you approach your manager with problems or customer situations. When you raise a problem, do you also provide thoughts, insights, and/or ideas for potential solutions, or are you just looking for a solution by dropping the problem at your manager's doorstep? Playing a productive role in problem-solving develops your capabilities and reduces the number of times you need someone else to solve the problem. This increases your value to your manager, your company, and, more importantly, to your customers. You will find you are much less often in that dreaded mode of, "I will have to get back to you on that," while your competitor may be solving the issue for you.
Communicate Your Needs. To some degree, it is human nature to hide or downplay our challenges, failures, or lack of adaptability, particularly to our boss! But these challenges are also significant development opportunities that can reignite your engagement with your company and your customers. By not working with your sales manager, you not only allow these challenges to continue and grow, which reduces productivity dramatically, but the practice also cheats you out of the benefit of your manager's insights, support, and learning opportunities for you. The sales professional who takes their own development seriously becomes a strategic force both internally and externally. Just as making customers part of the solution gets them invested in a successful outcome, the same is true of engaging your manager in your professional success.
Respect Your Manager's Time. The number of sales reps supervised by each sales manager can be large. When you respect the time of your sales manager, you will find it easier to get their time in the future for the important things. Upward delegation reduces your productivity, position with the customer, and position within your own organization. When you have the benefit of your manager's time, always come prepared with the issues of the day or week, your proposed plan of action to resolve them, and the specific things you need for success. Start on time and finish on time. If your manager tells you they can give you 30 minutes, wrap it up within 25 minutes. Look for ways to reduce the number of things that are awaiting manager approval and be action oriented. Your customers will love it, and your manager will appreciate it.
The dynamic of your relationship with your sales manager is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. View your sales manager as a valuable resource, and that is the role they will provide.