Sales Managers Need To Give Up Control

Most of you will remember this either as a kid or parent. I don’t recall exactly when our kids started riding 2 wheel bikes but I remember the process. Training wheels, helmet, bell the whole thing. Then, the training wheels come off and the parent holds onto the kid until they get the feel of riding 2 wheels. There is that point, however, when as a parent you just don’t want to loose control so you keep holding on. Both our kids finally said to the old man, “let go”. Letting go that first time is extremely hard!

So let’s flash across the years to when you’ve become a sales manager. There is a lot of “letting go” in this job. Let’s take the most obvious example-the sales call. This is one of those intangible situations that call for a tremendous amount of self control. Your job as the manager is to sit next to the salesperson and listen and observe the sales call and not talk. And you have to do this regardless of how much you want to add your two cents.

If you are new to sales management and no one has taught you to shut up during a sales call with a rep, consider yourself now aware of what to do. And there is a reason why you have to wire the mouth shut. Your number one job as a manager is to observe how the rep executes the sales call. How do they handle objections? Do they overpower the prospect with product knowledge? Do they talk more than listen? And on and on. And you are evaluating the salesperson against a common sales language that you, as the manager, introduced into the sales department. How can you evaluate the rep when you do more talking than the salesperson?

Is there a time when a sales manager needs to bail out the rep? Yes. If the salesperson is spouting incorrect information about the product or promising unreasonable delivery dates then it’s time to interrupt. My rule of thumb was to let the rep go as long as I could before I had my say. At least half the time the rep wold back track to set the record straight. If I was in a position to make eye contact I might also give a little head nod to indicate to the rep that they were on the wrong track.

As a salesperson you should never allow the sales manger to take over your sales call. If it happens let it go for the duration of that sales call. My advice is to not vent your frustration immediately after the call. Let a couple of hours go and then bring it up to the manager. How do you bring it up? Directly and professionally. I would say something like this. “Jim, I value having you work with me mainly because I like to have someone give me some feedback on how I do a sales call. On our next call here is what I’d like you to listen for.” And, hey, if he or she doesn’t get that subtle hint then give it to them straight.

The Final Thought: Control is never achieved when sought after directly. It is the surprising outcome of letting go. James Arthur Ray.

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