5 Secrets to Managing Your Sales Manager Productively

Many people believe that the main reason for representatives leaving their organisation is that of money in that they leave for a bigger salary. In fact, the biggest reason why people leave organisations is that the role they are doing is no longer offering any challenge or excitement. The second reason is due to the behaviour and capability of the immediate line manager. More often than not, the two are strongly linked with the manager taking little interest in the representative's development and as such the representative feels under valued and bored due to the lack of attention and challenge.

Often the blame is laid at the manager's door, but the representative must take a share of the responsibility also. The trouble usually arises when expectations are not laid out "on the table" with both parties unaware of each other's needs, motivations and expectations. The end result is often a lack of trust and respect between the representative and manager which leads inevitably to conflict. A good manager will ensure that a "contract" is created between the manager and the representative and that this contract is "two-way" but unfortunately this rarely happens and if any contract is put in place it is 2one-way2 with the manager outlining what he or she expects from the representative and not the other way around.

So how can you avoid this conflict and start to work productively with your manager? Act on these five secrets and watch the relationship with your manager grow.

Secret 1: Learn about behavioural styles and find out what your own is and your manager's. Compare the two and if there are differences then work on these differences by matching your manager's body language very discreetly. Match their tone and volume of voice, remembering not to mimic only discreetly match. Look at their eye movements and do similar. Again, do similar with body movements. When you start to discreetly match their body language you will be amazed that they start to match yours also. This is the start of the rapport building process and this goes a long way to start the building of trust.

Secret 2: Contract with your manager by getting agreement about how best the two of you are going to work together. Ask questions such as:

"What are your specific expectations of me as your representative?"

"What are my specific objectives and how am I going to be measured?"

"What behaviours annoy you?"

"What motivates and de-motivates you?"

"What reports do you want? When do you want them? What content?"

"How often do you want to visit me in the field?"

Contracting is all about managing expectations. A good manager will always outline his or her expectations and will ask you about yours. Once you both are clear about what each other's expectations are, then this is another building block in the foundations of trust and respect.

One of the hardest lessons I learned was when I did not contract with a senior sales manager. We had completely opposite behavioural styles, which meant that we didn't get off to the best start. He thought I was too energetic, flighty and too much of a risk taker and I though he was too detailed with no personality and constantly stuck in front of spreadsheets. We were in constant conflict because he asked me for reports that I could see no reason for and I was frustrated when he ignored my pleas for more training budget. If we had contracted and discussed our similarities and differences and how best to work with them, we may not have had the conflict that we did have. The result of this "personality clash" was that there was little trust and respect between us and very little communication. Meetings between the two of us were, to say the least, fraught!

Secret 3: Ask for regular feedback on your progress. Ask your manager to coach you. Be pro-active and do not wait for your manager to come to you. On the other hand do not always be seen to be reliant on your manager and give them space. Agree this area of support in your contract. A great time to enlist this support is on field visits. Ask your manager if some time can be "protected" during the field visit to discuss your progress and for them to coach you through any ideas and, or, challenges you have.

Secret 4: Be seen to be a support for your manager. Management can be lonely and stressful particularly if the manager isn't managing their boss particularly well or if the company and/or team results are not doing as well as expected. Be supportive and offer to take on extra tasks. These tasks will not only make space for the manager to work more productively and strategically they will also enable you to develop your own capabilities. Be careful to ensure you manage your team-mates expectations here too. Being seen as supporting the manager can be taken the wrong way by some of your colleagues and on occasion, the less enlightened representatives can see this behaviour as threatening.

Secret 5: Go with your instincts! If you feel that the relationship with your manager is starting to go sour, then immediately call a meeting and openly discuss your feelings. To make this easier than it may sound, again build it into your contract right at the start. Something like, "If I feel our relationship is not what it should be, can I address it immediately as opposed to letting it linger?" Do not where possible discuss your feelings with all of your sales team. You will find some people very supportive and helpful but you may also find that some may go out of their way to reinforce the feelings you have thereby making it more difficult to address with the manager. Always best to tackle these feelings head on without referring to your team mates. If you have a coach, then they are often the best people to enable and support you to handle these situations.

Relationships between managers and representatives usually deteriorate because there was little trust in the first place and as a result openness is not usually achieved. Follow the five secrets and you will go a long way to ensuring a lasting and productive relationship with your manager.

Allan Mackintosh is a professional management coach who after 19 years in the pharmaceutical industry started his own management coaching consultancy, Professional Management Coaching. He is a successful speaker and has recently turned author, having had his first book, "The Successful Coaching Manager" published in August.

Allan can be contacted on 01292 318152, e-mail [email protected] or visit his website at http://www.pmcscotland.com

In The News:

Show Up and Serve  Business 2 Community
Seven Key Questions Sales Managers Should Ask Their Reps  Radio & Television Business Report
King Koil Expands Senior Sales Team  Furniture World Magazine
Digital Marketing Analyst  Charlotte Agenda
Art Dickerson  Employee Benefit News
Leistritz Hires John Ross as Sales Manager  Pumps & Systems Magazine
Pier 1 closings involve prominent Wilmington retail spaces  Greater Wilmington Business Journal
Talent Success Manager  Charlotte Agenda
Derichebourg reports declines in sales and earnings  EUWID Recycling and Waste Management
Senior Digital Product Manager  Charlotte Agenda
Sales and Marketing Management  Business 2 Community
Seven Reasons Why A Sales Manager Can Fail  Radio & Television Business Report
How to Improve Sales Performance  Business 2 Community
Relationship Manager  Charlotte Agenda

Management by Osmosis

Sales managers are an interesting breed, effective sales managers are... Read More

Hire A Six, To Consistently Produce Sales Success

For many years as a sales manager, I would only... Read More

Retail Operations - Effective Branch Manager Support and Guidance

Performance and behaviour management is by far the most difficult... Read More

The Boss from Hell: Quick to Criticize, Slow to Praise

So you have a boss who dumps all over you... Read More

Sales Tactics to Beat Your Competition

This month I want to share a success from a... Read More

Set Yourself up for Trade Show Success

Of the many mistakes small business owners make, a big... Read More

3 Steps To Getting A Sales Meeting

The best way to get a new customer is to... Read More

Is Your Forecast Too Sunny? How to Improve the Accuracy of Sales Forecasts

As spring moves to summer, the forecast should be for... Read More

Speed-up Your Sales Cycle

This week's article is my response to a question by... Read More

Project/Program Management Best Practices for Success in ANY Industry!

Where is our success? Although there have been improvements, over... Read More

Sales Marketing: 12 Sneaky Tricks To Help You Outsell Your Competition

Business can be like war sometimes.You may have to fight... Read More

The Differences Between A Commercial Collections Agency & Lawyer

If your letter writing and phone calls have all failed... Read More

Leadership - How To Turn The Vision Into A Reality

Be clear about where you are now. Audit your strengths... Read More

To Increase Your Sales and Revenue Make Sure To Add Value

What are you and your company's services and products worth... Read More

How to Write a Business Plan Sales Section for a Mobile Service

We all agree one of the most important parts of... Read More

The ACCOUNTABILITY Challenge for Today?s Business Management

In today's 24/7 driven business word, accountability is becoming a... Read More

How We Build a 90% Failure Rate into the Sales Process

I recently began doing training in the banking industry. Across... Read More

Investing in Your Sales Team

While there's no easy answer to this question, there are... Read More

Increase Retail Sales With Meetups

I recently attended the monthly Italian language Meetup here in... Read More

The Top 5 Issues Facing VPs of Sales

A recent study of 2,663 sales organizations by Think Training,... Read More

How Do I Manage Workplace Conflict?

Workplace ConflictConflict is an inevitable part of business life and... Read More

Building Trust For Lifetime Success

Trust.One word.One very powerful word that can increase both first... Read More

Beyond the Golden Rule

There are several types and sub types of people in... Read More

Profitable Relationships: Is It Amateur Hour or King of the Hill?

"We're in the relationship business?...airplanes are what we use to... Read More

Sacking Clients: Brand Power Wheel

Remember in the last message we talked about your directional... Read More