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When Your Sales Manager Sucks
Blog / Sales Management / Mar 27, 2018 / Posted by Meridith Elliot Powell / 2984 

When Your Sales Manager Sucks


4 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What

I was 27 years old when I got my first job in sales. I was thrilled to finally be given an opportunity to make some “real money.” After years of working in customer service, I had talked my supervisor into giving me a chance to make sales calls and earn what in my mind was some hefty commission.

My only challenge was that I had no sales experience. While I had done a great job of taking care of our existing customers, I was not sure how to go about actually making a sales call. And as luck would (not) have it, my sales manager had no clue about how to actually go about training a sales person.

From the first day I started, my sales manager (I use the term loosely) made it very clear what sales goal I had to hit, but beyond that he provided no coaching, no support and no training. He would certainly call me every day to see how much business I had closed, but never called to offer advice or keep me motivated.

For the first three months, my life in this new role was rough. Again, I had no clue what I was doing, and to say that I was struggling was a major understatement. When I finally worked up the courage to ask for help, my sales manager looked at me like I had lost my mind. He responded instead by increasing my daily accountability. Rather than choosing to coach me or help me, he just increased the number of times he asked how many sales I had closed.

I think we have all been there, any of us that have been in sales. We have all had those sales managers that lack in the skill of coaching, and those that well actually just suck. Sorry to be so crude, but honestly that is the perfect description. They provide us no support, no coaching but plenty (over-the-top) accountability. In fact they tend to micromanage. Unfortunately, in the world of sales I often find there are more bad sales managers then good sales managers.

So what are you supposed to do if you have sales goals to hit, deals to close and clients to serve, and you are cursed with a less than stellar Sales Manager? Sales is luckily one of those skills you can learn, and if you take a little initiative it is one of those skills you can learn on your own.

What To Do When Your Sales Managers Sucks

4 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What

  1. Embrace it – first, and probably most importantly you need to embrace it. You need to just accept the fact that your sales manager is not a going to give you the support and help you need. Understand that complaining, whining or blaming your sales manager is a complete waste of your time and your very precious energy. Time and energy that you are going to need to get the training and support you need to learn to sell.
  2. Be Bold – take charge and be bold. You need to find the courage to ask for what it is expected of you, and what your sales manager needs from you to be successful. You may not get the support and help you need from your sales manager, but you still need to find out what they expect of you. One of the biggest challenges, and one of the biggest reasons salespeople fail is because they are unclear of what is expected of them. You may know already know your sales goals, but you need more than that to be successful. Sales managers are different, and they want different things. Different things when it comes to reporting, number of sales calls made and tracking systems updated. You need to know, you need to be clear, and you need to deliver on your sales manager’s expectations.
  3. Find A Role Model – now that you have accepted that your sales manager is not going to be your best coach, you need to find someone who can. You need to find a role model, someone who is not only good at sales, but someone who is good at the system of sales. Take the initiative to look beyond your sales manager, maybe others on your team or even in other fields. Find a good sales professional, and then ask them for help. It can be as simple as an interview to find out how they got so good, to asking them for advice, or suggesting they give you feedback on occasion. Most really good salespeople will not only say yes, they will love to help you. Why? Because most likely somewhere along the way someone helped them, and they have been looking for the opportunity to return the favor.
  4. Become The Master – you have what you need, and now your only step left is to master this process we call sales. Dig in, and invest the time to learn how to sell. Yes, to be good at sales you need to learn how to sell, and without a good sales manager you need to teach yourself. You can read books, watch videos and read articles about the skills it takes to up your sales game. So commit to become “The Master,” and invest time weekly to learning new skills, asking better questions, and how to follow-up and follow-thru.

It took me two more sales jobs to figure out that a good sales manager is hard to find. And while I spent longer than I should have struggling in sales, I finally found a good role model. Well, he actually found me—a top producer on our team who witnessed my frustration reached out to ask me to lunch. Over a sandwich and a cup of soup, he changed my view about sales, Sales Managers, and who is responsible for my sales success. He shared these four strategies, and helped me take control of my sales career.

Yes, in a perfect world we would all get the perfect sales manager—the sales manager who is truly invested in ensuring we get what we need to excel at this sport we call sales. However, as we all know, the world is not perfect, and sometimes your sales manager sucks. If you find yourself in this position, and believe me at some point you will, deal with the problem directly and use these 4 strategies to succeed at sales no matter what.

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About Author

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch, Meridith Elliott Powell, CSP, is an award winning author, keynote speaker and business strategist. She helps her clients decrease stress and increase profits through her work in sales, leadership and employee engagement!

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