No One Else Is Gonna! Advocate for Yourself
I was feeling a little bit nostalgic today for the way things used to be back in the “old days,” which for me would be the early 90s. Most print shops had sales managers, many even exclusively, meaning their ONLY job was to manage a team of salespeople, and they did not even call on their own accounts. Hell, some of these sales managers even served as a trainer, mentor and strategist for their salespeople. Do you remember those times? A great sales manager showed you how it was done. A great sales manager had been in the trenches, had done the sales job and done it well, and had been moved up the ranks of the company into a coveted leadership role. Many of you out there might be able to name your first great sales manager.
And now it’s 2015. What? I can’t remember the last time I heard of a sales manager today, who wasn’t also managing key accounts, heading up marketing, recruiting and on-boarding all the salespeople. So where does that leave you, grasshopper? Who do you go to when you need advice, to vent or to set your goals for the year—or for your whole career, for that matter?
You gotta do it yourself. But that does not mean that you are alone. Here are some ideas on how to advocate (VERB) for yourself. To get your hands on some of the good juju out there to help you succeed.
- Get a mentor. It could be a senior colleague, a competitor, a client or someone you met on LinkedIn. But you need a sounding board. Sometimes this can be a formal relationship in which both parties acknowledge that they are mentor/mentee, or it can be something as simple as having a person you can go to when you have a sticky situation, need advice or need to blow off some steam about how hard your job is and what jerks your customers are. Ask for it. It would be almost unheard of today for someone to offer this to you, but if you meet someone who looks like they might fit the bill, ask him/her if you can buy the first round and see about getting some commiseration going.
- Ask the boss for support. If your company is like most and you are now reporting to an owner, there is a good chance he might not feel like he has a lot to offer you in the way of coaching, strategy and the day-to-day grind of engaging with customers today. If you can get him to admit that and guarantee that if he hired someone to help you, even just for one day, you could get more sales, then you could engage the services of an industry expert to help steer you. Ask for this. Be ready to put some skin in the game in the form of increased sales or you will pay some of the fee yourself. Likewise, if you are spending too much time on admin tasks, keep asking for another CSR or estimator. Be that squeaky wheel til you get what you need.
- The Outside World—I have always been a big advocate of your public library being a great source of information and resources like free access to ReferenceUSA. I just recently had a situation where a client’s library did not offer any of the databases that most do. If I were him, I would be requesting a meeting with library leadership to get those services. As a taxpayer, you deserve for your library to provide you with basic services. Go ask for them.
I could go on and on, but at 624 words, I’m cutting myself off!
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.