The Sales Rep and Sales Manager: Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Oil and vinegar. Red Sox and Yankees. Tastes great and less filling. Some things will just never get along. They will never understand each other. They see the world only through their eyes. You can add salespeople and sales managers to that list.
Take one simple scenario and view it through two different lenses. A sales rep goes out on sales calls. A sales manager sits in the office. Seems simple enough. But the lack of understanding and communication can create a great deal of frustration needlessly. Let's look at it from both sides as each party e-mails in with their perspective.
Dear Bill and T.J.,
I have a big problem and need your help. I think my Sales Manager is crazy. He is certainly showing all the signs. Yesterday was a classic example. Here's what happened:
Forgoing a trip to the office, I decide to spend the morning prospecting. The night before, I had gathered all of my necessary materials and made a detailed list of the route that I would take. You see, I took your advice and decided to build around an appointment, augmenting it with calls on accounts I've been attempting to reach but hadn't had any luck. Both before and after my scheduled appointment, I stopped by these various locations. As you pointed out, they are not quite cold calls.
As such, I had some success in gaining entry and, subsequently, some outstanding conversations with potential new clients! Excited and optimistic, I returned to the office...to a boss standing at my desk, arms folded across his chest and clearly upset. Before I could open my mouth and share the good news, he bellowed at me, "Where the heck have you been? It's noon time and you're just coming to work? This kind of work ethic is not going to make you successful."
And, then, he ended the conversation by walking away and throwing this gem over his shoulder: "You can't sell anything sitting here!"
I am telling you guys, this man is crazy! What am I to do? Clearly he doesn't understand how hard I work.
—Exasperated Sales Rep
Dear Bill and T.J.,
I have a big problem and need your help. I think my Sales Rep is a slacker. He is certainly showing all the signs. Yesterday was a classic example. Here's what happened:
I get in to the office in the morning at the usual time: 7:30 a.m. No sales rep. Nothing but an empty chair. Okay, not a problem and not a big deal. I go to my office and get to work. At 9 o'clock, I go for more coffee. At 10, I walk through the plant. Each time I go by his cubicle, I peer in and it's more of the same: no sales rep and it begins to bother me more and more. What a slacker! I mean, where is this guy?
It's a beautiful day out, so perhaps he is golfing. Maybe he is having a leisurely breakfast with his wife. The fact that I don't know drives me crazy. Finally, he strolls in, and at the crack of noon. Noon!!!
I can't help but question him on where he has been all this time. The rest of us have been working. Shouldn't he be doing his job, as well? Guys, what am I to do? Clearly he doesn't understand the requirements of the job.
—Exasperated Sales Manager
Some advice for the both of you:
• To the Rep: We understand your frustration. But it is your job to let your boss know exactly what you are doing. Never assume that he knows and always assume that he cares more than he lets on. Managers are constantly asking the question, "Is my rep doing his/her job?" To find the answer, they will look first for tangible results, i.e., sales! After that, they will look for some sign that you are doing your job.
If they have a production report showing that you have a lot of estimates in-house, you are fine. Devoid of those signs, however, they will manage with their eyes and that can be a problem. I suggest that you make certain they are keenly aware of all of your selling activities.
A quick e-mail or phone call should do the trick. Perhaps all it would take is a note that summarizes the week's activities, either for the week ahead or the week just finished. How many sales calls did you make? How much work you anticipate coming in? How was your time spent?
You know you work hard and you know you are doing your job. Create and send something to your boss that communicates what's going on.
• To the Manager: We understand your frustration. But you need to do more than just manage with your eyeballs. Overseeing salespeople is not your only job and, truth be told, you would much prefer it if the rep owned his or her job and you did not need to get involved at all. We get that. But that is not the case and, as such, you need to keep your finger on the pulse of his or her sales activities.
We have spoken to your sales rep and given some suggestions that should alleviate your frustrations. You can expect more and better information moving forward. But here is what we need you to know: People go into sales for the lifestyle, the chance to make an income that is directly proportional to their results and for the freedom.
If you truly have a bad sales rep, do the Dr. Evil thing and press a button on your phone that opens the floor below him/her. But don't ever forget that you need to let salespeople make their own hours if you want to keep them around. So, don't overdo it. Everything in moderation.
Come on people! Can't we all just try to get along? PI
About the Authors
T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales Inc., a marketing and PR services company that has served the sales growth needs of graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning" and eight other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or email@example.com. Bill Farquharson is a vice president at NAPL. Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.