Welcome to Kara’s four-part “Manage your manager” guide. Each section will have a different focus, but in general, our guide aims to help you structure your objectives and communicate clearly with your manager and team, guiding you to sales success and improving workplace relationships.
Today’s chapter is about managing your sales manager. As salespeople, it’s normal to feel like your manager just doesn’t get it or is on an entirely different page. Whether or not the relationship between you and your manager is decent, average, or terrible, there are ways you can improve it. With a little bit of understanding, better communication, and a deep look at yourself and your own goals, finessing a better sales/manager relationship is a feasible goal. Read on for the best ways to do so.
See the big picture
We often see our managers as the enemy. They can seem like the CRM police, insisting we complete tedious, mindless tasks like data entry and sit through long, boring meetings when we’d rather be selling.
If you find this frustrating, it’s time to consider the why. Why is it that managers insist on the CRM data being accurate? It’s so they can best predict and analyze sales goals and numbers for the year. Your success depends on the accuracy of their predictions. After all, if your company can’t accurately predict its gains and losses, you could be out of a job. Just as what you do is important, what your managers do is important. They have their reasons for making you sit through boring meetings. So try to sit back and take in the bigger picture. You may realize that your manager’s job isn’t an easy one, and have a little empathy for them.
Remember, you can only control your reaction to things, not the things themselves. The best salespeople we know are those who put themselves above the drama and stay calm and focused. If you need to get emotional, do so at home, later. Stay as serene as possible at work, and rise about whatever irritating situation may be going on. Sign your deals, find your prospects, and just keep doing your job.
Focus on joint communication — and take responsibility
Many salespeople complain their manager sucks the energy out of them. But maybe it goes both ways. You might be surprised to learn your manager thinks that you suck the energy out of them! Regardless of who is taking energy from who, try to take responsibility for your part in a complicated sales/manager relationship.
Acknowledging that poor communication is at fault and the responsibility of both parties involved will help you be part of the solution and not just the problem. Remember, the best way to grow within your company is to gain respect from your manager, so working on your joint communication skills can help you both in the long run.
Approach your manager in the right ways
It’s also important to think about how you communicate your ideas to your team and manager. If you want your ideas or proposals to be taken seriously, presentation is everything. Don’t just rush into a meeting and announce your plan. Instead, dig in, do your detective work, take surveys, and slowly put together your ideas in an organized proposal or report. Then, reserve a time slot or a special meeting to present your ideas in a concise, proper way.
If you imagine your manager as a client, it will make sense to come to them with a complete, well-researched proposal. Doing so will ensure you’re taken seriously. After all, if you solve a pain post in a cost-effective way, your (and the company) ROI will only be higher.
Make yourself indispensable to your organization and your manager, and watch as your opportunities grow.
How to grow (with the help of your manager)
Not everyone’s goal is to be a manager. And that’s perfectly okay. But you may want to grow within your company, role, or in sales in general. Whether it’s from SDR to salesperson, salesperson to manager, manager to CEO, become a consultant, or start your own company, think about your goals and interact with your manager and co-workers accordingly.
Using your manager as a resource will only help you. Managers can teach you a lot. Namely how to be a manager, but also more about the industry. They have the power to offer you new opportunities or recommend alternatives to you. So consider your goals, and instead of fighting your manager, use them to help you succeed.
Know that if you follow your manager’s guidance, you’ll improve professionally, and be an asset to them. They’ll be more likely to recommend you for new positions or speak highly of you. Plus, for the time you’re at your current position, your relationship with your manager will improve, which is always a plus.
Being a salesperson is already exhausting, and taking energy to despise your manager is a big energy drain. Stop fighting it — consider dealing with your manager as part of your job (for better or for worse) and accept it. Part of your job is selling to external clients, and part of it is “selling” internally — namely — making your manager happy.
Make sure to check out the other articles in our “Manage your manager” series.