Most newly appointed sales managers express surprise and frustration with the amount of their time getting taken up by salespeople and their seemingly petty problems. Prior to the promotion, these managers pictured themselves strategizing with the reps on large deals, or making bold recommendations about the compensation plan to upper management. Yet, a salesperson wanders into their office and asks a question such as: “I like Cindy personally and think she’s a great rep. I don’t want any issues between us, you know what I mean? But all day long she hums under her breath. I worry my customers will hear it and it distracts me like crazy. Could you talk to her about it? Make it sound like a general complaint – OK? – you know like a lot of the reps have noticed and would like her to stop it.”
You care about this rep and how he feels. That humming might really be throwing him off his game. As his manager you need him producing. But problems like this – ugh.
Sometimes you wonder what a sales management position is all about – and how to decrease the number of complaints and interruptions. One idea – reach out to them on a regular basis. Give reps a call. Stop by their desk. Ask them what’s on their mind. Find out what – if anything – you can do to help sell more effectively. A problem like the salesperson mentioned above has with Cindy, gets discussed and resolved differently when you seek the rep out versus their having to approach you.
Though new sales managers don’t believe it at first, reaching out to reps proactively slows down the office drop-ins.
Another good response: “I have 10 minutes now and all the time you need after 5pm today.” Those who just want to vent will steer clear -- preferring to get home on time. Reps serious about discussing an issue will get to the point quickly, actually brainstorming rather than just complaining. They want to get home too.
Reps approach sales managers with issues – big and small. That won’t change. These ideas might help you spend less time dealing with them.
What do you say or do when a rep approaches you with an issue or problem that’s more personnel than completely sales related?