An EcSell member made a very insightful comment during our call this week. He said, “it’s amazing how much work gets done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” His statement got me thinking about how the competition for recognition can get in the way of a sales manager making the right decisions. More specifically, does a need to show our own value to clients sometimes keep us from setting up our reps to shine instead?
Personally, I’ve worked for both types of managers – those that would gave me great platform to succeed and supported me behind the scenes and those that would compete with me in front of the client. As you can imagine, I found the latter kind of manager much more difficult to work with because I felt I was not only trying to meet the needs of my client, but I was also simultaneously trying not to bruise my manager’s ego. Indeed, I felt like I had to manage both the client and my manager at the same time. And believe me, if that manager didn’t insist on joining my client meetings, I never chose to have them present.
As a sales manager, we were likely promoted to a leadership role because we excelled as a rep. And those talents that made us successful as a rep (competitive, driven, opinionated, etc.) can sometimes make it difficult for us to step out of the spotlight when we are dealing with clients. However, if we do not step back and support our reps behind the scenes than we can easily create the perception in the eyes of the clients that we, as the sales manager, are the only one that can really meet their needs. Essentially, we diminish the standing of our reps so that the clients start to believe we have to be directly involved with their accounts to get the best deal, service or support.
One of the best ways to combat this tendency is to create a pre-call plan with your reps before client visits to ensure your role on the call is clearly defined. In general, you should default to being there to support your rep, not take the call over, if you want the client to perceive the rep as credible. Pre-call plans can also help you and your rep anticipate issues and plan how the rep, not you, can address the potential problems. Overall, the more you can give your reps the spotlight in front of the client, the more you can remove yourself from direct client service. And ultimately, this frees you up to spend your time coaching your reps and helping them build their sales skills so they can succeed on their own.