Getting the right support and feedback from your sales manager can often be the difference between being a top earner in sales and wining the proverbial “third prize“.
Salespeople: Take Responsibility.
My advice to salespeople is simple. I’ve worked for great sales managers and I’ve worked for ones who could have been featured in Horrible Bosses, but no matter how good or bad at managing your sales manager might be, they were undoubtedly promoted because they were really good at sales.
Take advantage of this valuable resource and use it to your advantage. Instead of dreading your weekly one-on-one, be prepared and drive the conversation. Remember, your manager can’t help you unless you come prepared with areas you want to improve on or things you want to improve. Your sales follow-ups, perhaps using a tool like Spiro, will benefit from what you learn in these meetings.
Here are six questions that I highly recommend you ask during your meetings with your sales manager.
1) “Which deals do you think I should be focused on?”
A key function of your manager should be helping you understand which accounts and opportunities are right for you and your product by providing valuable context.
For example, you might think that Staples is a great opportunity because they’re one of the biggest companies around. Your manager will be able to draw on her experience to tell you if you even have a chance at winning in the retail sector and how past attempts to sell to that particular vertical have turned out.
2) “Why do you think we lost this deal?”
Often salespeople don’t want to bring up lost deals, because frankly, we don’t want to look stupid. However, your boss already knows you lost the deal, and it is a key learning moment so you can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. If your manager wasn’t involved in the sales process at all, bring recorded calls or email exchanges to your one-on-one so she has a full understanding of how the deal played out.
3) “How do I get this prospect to get back to me?”
Don’t be afraid to ask for specific help like this. Your sales manager has the benefit of works with a full team of salespeople. She may have tricks up her own sleeve, or she might be hearing about strategies that other salespeople have been using successfully.
4) “Which meetings can you join me on?”
Don’t dread the ride-along or get self-conscious at the expense of your personal performance. Even major league baseball players have hitting coaches who watch them hit.
A small adjustment in behavior, word choice, or even voice tone can make a big difference in your sales game — it never hurts to get an objective second opinion to point out bad habits you don’t even notice.
5) “What are my other team members doing that I’m not?”
You might think you know everything that your teammates are trying out on prospects, but your manager can tell you which strategies are actually working. Learn a few new best practices each week and you’ll stay on top of the leaderboard.
6) “What else going on at our company that I can tell my prospects about?”
If you’re going to reach out to prospects, you always need a good reason. Company news like new wins, new products, or features released can always be turned into a call or email to start a discussion. Strategize with your manager to help find the best message of the week.
Use It or Lose It
Your sales manager can be a great resource for you, and it’s your responsibility to get the most out of her. Stop thinking of your manager as someone whose job it is to please the leadership team, and turn her into your secret weapon. Your bank account will thank you.