There is no relationship more important to get right at work than the one you have with your boss. They can make work fulfilling and exciting…or a confidence-sapping exercise in misery.
Your sales career is quite literally in this person’s hands, so it’s vital to get it right.
Luckily, it’s in your hands to create a good relationship right from the start. And don’t worry; even if you’ve worked with your sales manager for a while, the majority of the following hints can also apply to someone who is trying to improve relations with their manager too.
1. Show that you’re open to feedback. Nothing gives a manager a bigger sigh of relief than when an employee shows they can take constructive criticism. You’ve just made their life easier and they’ll respect you for it. When it comes to selling everyone has their favourite tip or technique they love to share. Be proactive and ask them what it is first and then…. use it and let them know how it went; you’ll have a friend for life.
2. Identify their working style. Do they want everything in email, face to face or both? Long meetings or short? Are they impatient and short on time and niceties? If they write short sharp emails, respond in kind- don’t waffle. Also note when their productive times of day are- do they get right into work as soon as they get in the door, or do they take time to settle in? Match your style to theirs.
3. Try to hand in reports and data early. Even if only by a few hours, completing tasks before the deadline shows you are in complete control. Sales and BD pros have a reputation for being poor at admin; show people that isn’t the case and you will be respected more than you ever thought possible.
4. Know the competition and know your data Don’t just say ‘I’ve heard it’s more effective’- say ‘A study by Harvard business school shows it’s 60% more effective…’. Few sales people utilise facts at hand and this always impresses the ‘powers’ that be in any organisation.
5. Admit when you’ve made an error. There’s just no other way to maintain respect. Admit it and a make your own suggestion about how you will put it right and by when.
6. Ask questions, but not every two minutes. It gets in the way of their work and makes you appear completely uncertain. Only ask urgent questions as they come up; for the rest keep a running file open on your computer and ask questions all at once.
7. Keep them updated on your accounts. If your manager is frequently asking for updates, it’s an excellent sign that you’re not keeping them properly informed and they’re worried enough about your progress to check up on you.
Even if your sales manager is more hands-off, be sure to say to them that ‘the ACME account is going well- let me know if you want a progress report.’ This reassures them that you’ve made quantifiable progress and that they were right in trusting that you don’t need micromanagement.
8. Be 10 minutes early as a rule and dress smartly. This shouldn’t really need to be said, but for some reason people still miss these basic rules of how to impress the boss.
9. Don’t bolt for the door at 5 every day. Work late without complaint when you need to. However, be wary about always staying late- firstly, staying late is a dangerous precedent as it will often become expected (and you risk being taken for granted), but it also indicates that you can’t get your work done during work hours.
10. Don’t complain unless you have a solution. There’s no point bringing a problem up with your sales manager unless you have a clever solution to offer.
It’s never too early or too late to create a strong working relationship with your boss that’s based on mutual respect. Why not start today?