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 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 my first day, my Sales Manager (I use the term loosely) made it very clear what sales goal I had to hit. 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. 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 most of us in sales have been there. We have all had those Sales Managers that lack in coaching skills, 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 of (over-the-top) accountability. In fact, they tend to micromanage. Unfortunately, in the world of sales, I often find that there are more bad than good sales managers.
So, what are you supposed to do if you have sales goals to hit; deals to close; and clients to serve; but you are cursed with a less than stellar Sales Manager? Luckily, sales is one of those skills you can learn. And, if you take a little initiative, it is one you can learn on your own.
What To Do When Your Sales Manager Sucks
4 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What
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 time and very precious energy. Time and energy that you are going to need to get the training and support you need to learn to sell.
Take charge and be bold. You need to find the courage to ask what it is expected of you. And, what your sales manager needs from you in order to be successful. You may not get the support and help you need, but you still need to find out what they expect of you.
One of the biggest challenges and reasons salespeople fail is because the expectations are unclear. You may already know your sales goals, but you need more than that to be successful. Sales Managers vary, and they want different things when it comes to reporting, making sales calls and tracking systems. You need to know, you need to be clear, and you need to deliver on expectations.
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 ask them for help. It can be as simple as an interviewing them to find out how they got so good, to asking for advice, or suggesting they give you feedback on occasion. Most really good sales people will not only say yes, they will love to help. Why? Because most likely somewhere along the way, someone helped them. And, they have been looking for the opportunity to return the favor.
Become The Master
You have what you need. Now the only step left is to master this process we call sales. Dig in, invest the time in learning 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 and articles and watch videos about the skills it takes to up your sales game. So, commit to becoming “The Master.” Invest time weekly to learn new skills, ask 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 actually, he found me. A top producer on our team, who witnessed my frustration and reached out to ask me to lunch. Over soup and a sandwich, 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 ideal 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. Use these 4 strategies to succeed at sales no matter what.