I’m with you gang! I have had sales managers that were horrible and made being successful as a sales rep almost impossible. Heck, early on in my career as a manager, I may have been that guy myself! That said, today let’s focus on what you can actually do about that challenge that can be productive. What we are not going to focus on is how to change their behavior but on what we control … ourselves.
So, here are 3 questions I want you to ask yourself that my experience tells me can go a long way to helping you become successful in spite of having a bad boss!
Question #1 – what can I learn from my boss? Even the worst boss in the world has something, at least one thing, about them that has allowed them to get to the position of being in charge that we can learn from. What are those qualities that they have that we can learn from? Maybe it is perseverance? Perhaps they got to the top because of their skills in managing their manager? Perhaps, while we don’t like it, they have a style of selling that rubs us wrong but that has made them successful? What is it in them that has contributed to them getting to that position and what can we learn from it? More than anything, I want you to cultivate the ability to see the best in everyone, even a bad manager, you come into contact with. That skill will serve you well daily in business … and in life!
Question #2 – do I know what my boss values in a sales rep? One of the things we teach in our sales training courses is how important it is for us to know what it is our client values? What is it they expect from our company, our product/service and what do they expect from us, their sales rep. If we know what our client values then all we have to do is consistently deliver it and we become an asset to them and their organization. To be successful with our sales managers, good or bad, we should treat them just like a customer! Yep … find out what it is they value and consistently deliver it to them on a consistent basis and watch how the dynamics of the relationship change! They may still be a jerk but they will be a jerk who values us differently than the average sales rep!
Question #3 – is there anyone else on the sales team that my boss gets along with well? If the answer is no then we can at least take their poor behavior out of the “it’s personal” category! If there are people they get along with well then what I would recommend, and have done in the past, is study what it is about the reps they like. Then I would see if there are things they do that I can authentically duplicate to better get along with my boss. I don’t want you to do something that lacks integrity nor do I want you to be a phony but if there are things that would help and you can do them then look at it as if you are adding another tool to your skill set. Now, here is the tough part, if most everyone else gets along with the boss, if the top sales performers get along with the boss, if the staff gets along with the boss and we don’t … then perhaps there is something wrong with us that needs some work! I know that isn’t likely but it bears consideration!
At the end of the day, if none of this works then we have to make a serious decision about our career. Taking in factors about how long we would have to deal with the situation, how bad is it, and what options we have available to us can help us decide if staying is worth it? At one point in my career I had just such a difference of philosophy with one of my bosses that I came down to me making the decision to moving to a new company. That was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Bottom line? This career as a sales professional should be fun! If it isn’t and you have tried everything you can, including asking yourself the 3 questions above, and it doesn’t get much, much better … then make the move. Life is too short!