Sales reps are the engine that drives business, and the sales manager is the mechanic that keeps that engine running at peak performance.
Top sales reps do not need their sales manager to micromanage their activity or close deals for them. Instead, high performing sales professionals want their manager to help clear obstacles from their path so they can sell more.
Let’s look at 3 different types of sales managers and how their leadership styles can restrict your ability to sell more:
1) The Control Freak
The Control Freak sales manager takes control of the sales call, answers prospect questions, overcomes objections, provides client references and asks for the order. The salesperson is relegated to a secondary role in the process.
The Control Freak struggles with ceding control of the sales process to their salesperson and assuming a coaching role where they observe and debrief after the sales call.
The Control Freak’s behavior is motivated by their fear of losing the sale and not making their numbers. Unfortunately, their behavior can become a self-perpetuating downward cycle.
The Control Freak manager believes they are helping, when in fact, they are sacrificing long term skill development of their sales team for short term sales results.
Ironically, the more they control the sales process, the more they weaken their team and ultimately lose control of their team’s performance.
2) The Glory Hog
The Glory Hog manager is often a top-performing sales rep that was promoted to manager and is addicted to the feeling of winning new business.
At their worst, the Glory Hog manager also wants the recognition for closing the sale and over-quota achievement at the expense of the salesperson and other team colleagues.
During team meetings and individual account reviews, the Glory Hog uses “I,” “me,” and “my” rather than “we,” “us,” and “our” when communicating about sales success.
It’s only when the Glory Hog is unable to participate in a prospect meeting, that the post-call debrief is peppered with questions about what “you” did or did not do – especially if the opportunity didn’t advance or close.
The Glory Hog is first cousin to the Control Freak, the behavior is the same and produces the same result – an underdeveloped sales team. The only difference is what motivates this behavior.
3) The Number Cruncher
The Number Cruncher sales manager leads by tracking metrics (number of calls, proposals submitted, sales closed) and rigorous pipeline management. They know every sales figure (individually and team aggregate) and all of their communications tend to focus on moving the needle on the metrics they track.
This behavior is usually caused by a lack of confidence in their own field sales skills so they hide behind their spreadsheet rather than riding shotgun on sales calls to observe their sales team in action.
Not surprisingly, the Number Cruncher usually has a prior background in non-sales roles like finance or sales operations. Thus, the Number Cruncher is more comfortable with running and analyzing reports than field coaching to develop sales skills.
Here’s how you can overachieve your sales goals even when your manager exhibits these traits:
1) Carefully Define Your Role For Each Call
Enlist your sales leader’s help in pre-call planning with a proposed agenda. Together, decide who will handle specific call topics and the order in which they will be handled.
Use a whiteboard to create the pre-call plan with your manager. Having them write the agenda will satisfy their desire for control. This will also keep the Control Freak manager from taking over the call when you meet with the prospect or client.
2) Recognize Your Sales Leader For Their Specific Contributions
Acknowledgement for a job well done is a basic human need. Top performing salespeople are recognized for their achievements in a variety of ways. Large commissions, Chairman’s Club trips and other perks serve to reinforce this. Your Glory Hog sales leader craves recognition for their contributions too.
Share your appreciation by being vocal (or via email) about how your manager helped you succeed. The key is being specific in your thanks. Include other colleagues and management in your acknowledgement, if appropriate.
3) Validate Your Financial Data and ROI With Your Manager
While you’re at it, invite them to present the financial analysis and ROI during the sales call.
Place your Number Cruncher manager in a position to address pricing questions or concerns in real time. Their authority will help move the opportunity forward.
Just remember to do everything you can to ensure your manager’s behavior doesn’t impact your sales performance. When you are selling, you have more clout within your company, as nobody wants to see a top rep walk out the door to the competition. If you let it take you off your game, you will likely diminish your standing in the company.