Posts belonging to Category Mentoring

Are You Managing Your Sales Manager?

This is the most important relationship that you are going to have in your career!  Don’t flinch because of the title, managing this relationship is the key to your success.  Invest the time to make it work for you while making sure that you take the time to “guide” it correctly!


I am a believer in this topic.  Managing your manager is the way to success.  I was a sales rep, and a sales manager, a vice president of Marketing (that managed sales managers), and know this topic from a variety of angles!

There should be no negative implications for a topic like this.  We attempt to manage time, territories, expenses, production, and performance outcomes as a natural course in our jobs.  I would hope that understanding how to “manage” your sales manager would be just as important.

“Managing” your sales manager involves important issues such as training, performance evaluations, potential merit increases, territory allocations, participation in sales calls, and the allocation of valuable resources such as prospect distribution, house accounts, and major accounts.

This is not anything nefarious, yet is respectfully making sure that you get the attention and resources that you need, and in some cases the space you need to do your job to the fullest.  It also would be designed to give you resources you need in a competitive atmosphere to be the premier sales professional in your unit.

As a Black sales professional, you are quite visible.  You need to be calculated in your performance, and how you frame that performance.  Your manager should be active with you as well as an observer in your performance and work activities.

Relationships Count

The most important relationship you have at your job is the one you have with your manager.  Your ability to ask questions, seek assistance, and suggest improvements should be natural.  Likewise, your ability to get feedback, accept criticism, and be generally evaluated should be a given.

This relationship is a give and take.  He or she is still the boss, and you have expectations of each other.  You need to work at this relationship if you are not the premier performer.  The premier performer has his/her results to support the relationship.  Until you get to that status, you need the manager a little more.

‘Fair Game’ Tactics

Here are some ways to effectively manage your sales manager:

Communicate Upward – Keep your sales manager knowledgeable of your activities, and the status of major clients and prospects.  Your managers should always be kept abreast.  Sales managers communicate upward to their managers regarding major prospects and clients, sales projections, and goal attainment.  The last things they want are surprises.  By communicating these things frequently, it will keep them from making projections and claims that cannot be met.

Request Assistance and Sales Manager Presence – Request your sales manager’s help for profile and difficult prospect/clients.  Remember, you will be in the boat by yourself to get the attention or negative attention depending on the results.  Sharing the attention when you win is better than ending up with the sole negative attention “spotlight” if you blow it.  You can more easily manage your sales manager if you make him or her look good.  Have the sales manager attend calls that you need help on, but also calls that put you in a good light.   You can choose calls that display the strength of your relationships, showcase your strong technical abilities, and calls that reveal your technical sales ability.

Be The Expert on You – Your manager can have as many as 12 direct reports, and the responsibility for getting results from them, and a particular territory.  He cannot possibly know you, your accomplishments, and your strengths, the way you want.  It is easier for the focus to be on your weaknesses.  You must be the expert on you!  Know the following:

Know Your Sales Manager – Knowing as much as you can know about your manager without being invasive is good business.  It will help you understand the motivations and better be able to answer questions and complete tasks.  Know where your manager went to school and the composition of his/her family.  Know his/her previous jobs, and what motivations are present.  A sales manager who was formerly a financial person may have a focus on the numbers and metrics, and you should know this.  The more you know, the better off you are.  Know the background and feel comfortable discussing it with him/her.  You will notice that the manager will be flattered.  Information from Linked-In, or your company’s website can help you here.  You may even use Google for this purpose.

Volunteer with a Purpose – Every manager needs some help, and you should be prepared to give some assistance and learn in the process when it benefits you.  I certainly am not suggesting that you be ‘oily’ and kiss “you know what”, yet when you can add something you should step-up.  Those that don’t step-up will probably get the items they would not have chosen.

Always be Prepared – Repeat after me “I will never go into a meeting with my sales manager and be unprepared!”  This is important.  When you go in to any meeting with this most important relationship you have at that company, you should go in with a solid agenda.  No rambling and no scrambling but a meeting with a purpose that you requested and are in control of. Have your questions written down, and stick to your appointment time.  Your manager will realize your efficiency and effectiveness.

Always Perform

Here is where you start to make the distinction between you and your counterparts.  To be most effective at this, you need to consistently produce sales results.  It is a given that you need to be in good standing, yet it always helps to be exceeding goals and be a sales leader.

If you do this, you will be “shining” the light on yourself.  This type of self-promotion is totally ‘legal’.  Make sure your managers sees what is necessary and knows your value.  This is something that you can do without seeming like a “weasel”.

‘Manage” this relationship wisely.  It can make a difference in your compensation and your future.

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Are You Jealous Enough to Be in Sales?

Jealousy, the “green eyed monster”, lives in the hearts of many sales professionals. Don’t think that it is something abnormal, it is truly human nature!

Whether it is jealousy about income, managerial attention, or one of the worst ones – jealousy regarding recognition, it exists in many professional sales departments whether it is outside sales or inside sales.


You can be the object of such jealousy, or you may have jealousy in your own heart. I can relate as we all have been there.  I won’t be critical, but I will advise what you might want to use the jealousy to fuel your everyday activities.

Used correctly this jealousy could help you as a catalyst to propel you to do the things necessary to be the best.

There is Always a “Target”!

I once work with a sales professional, I’ll call him John L, who was flat out just better than anyone else in our sales office. He dressed the part, he had the sales training, and quite frankly even his name was associated with being the best.

There was no one that had the respect of all the different functions or departments like this individual did. He had management’s ear, and if he suggested a change or program, it was probably going to be implemented.

Alas, no one was jealous of this individual, as he was the standard.  So it is not always the best that is the target.

The target for jealousy is normally someone who is “the upstart”, the individual who is breaking away from the pack and making individuals of like tenure and abilities look bad. This individual gets to be the target of professional jealousy, in most cases whether it is deserved or not.

What Can You Do?

A quick review of some of the reasons for the professional jealousy will shed light on the issue.  Professionals get jealous because of the following:

Management Attention -In sales it is human nature to covet managerial attention, as that attention is a limited resource. Your sales manager tends to focus attention on the individuals who are getting results. Even if you are wanting for assistance, if you’re not getting results, and don’t show the potential to get results, the attention to you may be scarce.


  • Get Your Sales Manager Involved In Your Business – From the simple ‘ride-along’, to negotiating and pricing.  Give him a ‘franchise’ in your operations and you will be surprised the level of commitment that can take place.
  • Schedule ‘status’ meetings with your manager – Don’t wait to be asked about key or major prospects, keep your manager up front and in the loop.  If you want the manager’s attention, tease out the attention by giving information and facts that provoke interest.  Always have something going!
  • Review Black Sales Journal 6/14/12 – 6 Simple Ways to Manage Your Sales Manager This post will help you ‘manage’ your sales manager.  These points will work, if you couple them with doing the other activities that requisite to the job!
  • General Sales Success and Recognition– We’ve all been an office here ‘rising star’ changes the game.  This individual may put together a string of sales, land the big one, or gets the manager “knee-deep” in a string of new prospects that makes the manager feel needed. Note that the manager feels needed, not only because they’re being asked for help, but also they see potential and get a good feel for what’s going on.  Additionally, the more information the manager gets about your prospects, the more close to a sale situation he or she is in, and the more they will help you close the sale.


  • Be in the Top 20% - Pareto’s Principal would suggest that 20% of a sales force garners 80% of the sales production.  You have got to be there.
  • Read Black Sales Journal 8/22/2013 Be in the Elite – Crack the 20%! – Realize that sales success is hard work, technique, and desire, and you need to be a sales leader, even if you are not the top producer.  Read this post and give it some thought!
  • Always be the Professional! – Remember that you have got to look the part as you seek to be in the 20% (see Persona below).  There are many sales professionals who a manager believes success is imminent, and just around the corner.
  • Income/Lifestyle In this most measurable of professions, there are individuals who have been able to change their income, and resultantly their lifestyle and their family’s lifestyle in an amazing fashion.  The ability to work a compensation plan to perfection is what singles out sales professionals from many other occupations. Sales professionals used to measure success by some rather simple milestones, such as making six-figure incomes. Although this may still be a yardstick, there are many sales professionals whose six-figure incomes dwarf the theoretical threshold of $100,000.  They make enviable (notice that word) high six-figure incomes, buttressed by compensation schemes and benefits that include long-term compensation factors as well as other benefits.


  • Know How You get Paid! – Master your sales compensation plan. Read Black Sales Journal 9/17/2012, It’s About That Paper – Know How You Get Paid!.
  • It is All About How You Manage Your Money – I was once told that a man making $25,000 could live like a man making $100,000, and a man making $100,000 could look like a man making $25,000.  It is all in how you handle your money.  You know what I mean.
  • Act Like You Have Been There – Spend your money wisely with an eye toward the future.

Develop Your (Sales) Persona

John L, individual I mentioned to start the article had a sales persona, in concert with a aura of success.  In addition to looking and dressing the part, his vehicle was spotless.  There are things that you can do that will give everyone around you confidence in your ability and your decisions. When you add to it business maturity, your persona is enhanced.


In Sales, Some Jealousy is Healthy

Many of us are motivated by jealousy, even if we don’t know it.  If you are burdened by jealousy instead of motivated, then endeavor to use it to your advantage.

Just like in a good relationship, some jealousy is healthy.  I am talking about the healthy jealousy that pushes you to be the better (or even the best) and seek the appropriate levels of attention and recognition.

Your comments are welcome.  You can reach me at  Always be the best.