A shared objective of sales managers all over the world is to develop teams of appropriately effective and efficient salespeople who are able to meet their performance goals.
Sales management is the most challenging job in a sales organization, and the manager plans a pivotal role in the success of any organization that seeks to grow.
Given just how important the sales manager’s role is to the success of an organization, one would think that we sales managers get a lot of love from our employers, from our customers, and from our salespeople.
We don’t. At times, our employers undervalue us, and they do not always give the credit we are due. Our customers don’t necessarily appreciate the role we play in ensuring our customer-facing salespeople do right by them. Worst of all, though, is the way that some of our very own salespeople look at us.
At times, it seems our salespeople flat-out hate us. The fact that some salespeople do not respect, listen to, take coaching from, or generally want to follow their sales leaders is a huge obstacle to achieving peak performance in a sales organization.
If you plan to be a successful sales manager for a long time, you have to get over the fact that you won’t be a fan favorite amongst your salespeople all of the time. There is no way around the fact that you will eventually get under some reps’ skins by asking them to do something they do not want to do.
But there is a way to alleviate the frustration that you and your salespeople feel from time to time. It starts with identifying the root causes and sales manager behaviors that cause salespeople to lose respect for, block out, humor, or… dare I say it, despise us.
Why Your Sales Team Hates You
The following are the most common five ways you’re making your sales team hate you, straight from the mouths of salespeople themselves:
1) You waste my valuable time, boss.
We have too many unstructured and ineffective sales meetings. Just last month, we had four weekly meetings to review information that was plainly available to everyone on our CRM platform. We basically read reports back to one another for an hour each time we met. What conclusions did you want me to draw? What did you want me to gain from the conversation? What did you want me to do next? And please don’t complain that I’m not making enough calls. You stole four hours from me last month that I will never get back.
2) I don’t agree with the feedback you give me.
After the last client sales call we went on together, you gave me some feedback on my performance that I could not put into action. In fact, I have no idea what specific behavior I am supposed to change, and yet you seem intent on having me change something. What is it? What do I need to stop doing or change the next time I am in a situation like the one you observed last week? If you can’t tell me clearly and plainly, then leave me alone!
3) You swoop in at the last minute to “close the sale” that I was getting ready to close!
You took credit for the hard work that I did over several months to develop this opportunity. Did I handle things perfectly? No. Was the opportunity going to close without you? Possibly, but we’ll never know now because you came in, stepped on my toes, and claimed victory for us in the last lap of the race. Thanks a lot, boss.
4) You tell my colleagues and me what to do, forgetting that we’re adults who prefer to discover the best path on our own.
You treat us like children, and despite the fact that you may be right more often than you’re wrong, I hate when you tell me my job before I’ve had a chance to consider it for myself. Ask me some questions. Let me think about how to address problems or opportunities. I might just figure out the answers on my own once in a while.
5) You don’t appear as committed to your craft as a sales leader and coach as you expect me to be committed to mine as a professional salesperson.
Are you somehow above or too important to learn anymore? How arrogant!
And here’s one more that will cut to your core …
6) You seem to have forgotten how hard it is to be a salesperson.
I don’t have a magic wand to make great outcomes and sales appear from thin air, and I can’t manufacture more time for all of the secondary tasks that you load on me. You were once one of us, and now, you act like those senior managers who make totally unrealistic demands of us and expect us to take it. I hate that.
If we sales managers are to execute our pivotal role with excellence, then we need to do two important things. First, we must focus on the fundamentals of effective sales management — for more content on this subject, visit my website, United Sales Resources. Second, we need to stop doing things that anger our salespeople.
How to Heal Your Relationship With Your Sales Team
Here are five strategies to be valuable to your salespeople (and as an added bonus, earn their respect):
1) Treat their time like gold.
Prepare to make meetings really useful, and have a clear set of conclusions you want them to draw and actions you want them to take.
2) Give them clear feedback based on real-world observations.
Be direct with them about what they’ve done well and what they haven’t done well. Give them one specific thing to work on, and review progress with them as they work on that one thing.
3) Let them do their jobs.
If they are paid to close deals, let them close deals. Your help is most valuable to them in the early stages of an opportunity’s development anyway, not the late stages.
4) Don’t forget that you were one of them not too long ago.
Whether they’re on the road all the time or in inside sales, selling is physically and mentally draining, and not feeling supported by one’s manager can cause even the best of salespeople to check out.
5) Set the bar high for your own personal development.
If you preach a message of development and growth to your people, then be the ultimate exemplar of personal development. Take your craft as a sales leader more seriously than your people take their own craft. Be the most credible voice for development, preparedness, and discipline that your salespeople know. The positive impact you make on your own career will only be rivaled by the impact you make on the development and careers of each member of your team.
Matt McDarby is the founder and President of United Sales Resources (“USR”). USR provides training, coaching, actionable intelligence and practical advice to sales leaders, so they can drive better sales results.