Are You A Tough Manager or a Pushover?

One of the things I thought about when I was promoted to sales manager was, what should my persona be? Should I be:

  1. Distant
  2. Tough-nosed 
  3. A pushover
  4. A buddy
  5. A taskmaster

I certainly had had enough managers to use as examples, both good and bad. When I got right down to it there really was only one that I wanted to emulate. He really was a “developer of salespeople”. He was patient, supportive, a realist and more. I will never forget that after I was hired he invited my wife and I to his house where he and his wife hosted a dinner party for just the four of us. Here I was, a raw salesperson in his first sales job and this gentleman was treating me like a peer! I never ever forgot that. That was always a goal when I hired salespeople; always, always take the rep and his or her significant other out to dinner.

So back to the question. What should your persona be when you are first promoted to sales manager? The best reply I have is don’t change who you are. There must have been something in your style, work ethic, general demeanor that people above you thought would fit with the role of sales manager. If you try to change who you are to fit some imaginary person then you will lose the strengths you have to be successful in the job. I asked myself what the salespeople I inherited would want from a new manager. Here is my short list of the sales rep needs:

  • Consistency. For the salespeople their business lives may be OK so why mess with success.
  • Listen to what the salespeople need.
  • Improve the rep’s areas of weakness through solid coaching.
  • Availability. Sometimes, salespeople need to discuss business or personal issues.
  • Avoid any large demanding projects until you know if those projects are really needed.

It seems pretty obvious that “staying the course” is a pretty decent philosophy until you, as the manager, get a feel for what the salespeople need but I have seen new sales managers walk into their first meeting with their reps and come across as completely different people than they were as salespeople. In my opinion that is a stupid move.

The caveat! I know, there are always caveats. If your first sales team is a ragbag group of colossal misfits then waiting to make changes will only worsen the situation. The chances are you’ve already been told to clean the situation up so sooner is better in terms of starting.

In general, however, I wouldn’t do much more than observe for several weeks or a month before I decided to make changes and if there aren’t any obvious situations that need changing then don’t. Enjoy the ride!

The Final Thought: Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.  

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One thought on “Are You A Tough Manager or a Pushover?

  1. it’s a great article

    but for myself I am a friendly man and I just hired as a executive manager in a company so my top manager is asking me to be tough and not to be friendly with my orders. but I’m not that guy.

    so what do you think I should do?

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