Are You Allowing Your Sales Reps to Control You?
Having a grip on your sales team is a delicate balance between authority and responsibility. While it is important for Sales Managers to exhibit a certain level of control, it is also good practice to give your team a healthy amount of leeway. When executives haven’t effectively established expectations or implemented ongoing coaching, their team may begin to take advantage. Here are four ways that sales reps manipulate their managers, and what you can do to avoid it.
1. Sandbagging – Your sales rep has done pretty well this month. They reached their quota early, and now they’ve just made another big sale before the month’s end. But they’re wondering if next month will be as prosperous for them, or if they’ll have to scramble to try to meet their quota. So what they do is hold back that extra sale for a few days, not submitting it until the first of next month. That way it goes towards next month’s numbers, even though it was made this month. Not only is this dishonest and manipulative, it delays fulfillment of the sale and inconveniences the customer. It also poses a problem when you are attempting to forecast sales accurately. Make sure that all sales reps submit their sales as they receive them.
2. Locking the Manager Out – Your sales rep has a big client they’re working on landing, or one whom they brought in and now sell to regularly. You want to talk to this client and find out a bit about what they’re like, so your company can serve them better. But the sales rep says no. This client refuses to deal with anybody but them, the person they’ve come to know and trust. It sounds plausible on the surface, but all this really does is lock management out of the process, giving the rep free rein to do what they like with regards to this client—even if it’s dishonest or against company policy.
3. Keeping the Manager In – The other side of the coin is that some sales reps deliberately put their managers on calls with them and their clients, even when it’s not necessary. This keeps the rep from having to learn the ins and outs and technical specifics about the product they’re selling. Instead, they can just coast their way through with their manager’s continued assistance. Have a company policy that limits the time that managers spend on calls for sales reps, so that they have to do the work for themselves.
4. Making Promises – While some manipulative sales reps refuse to let managers talk to their clients or prospects, others promise them that they absolutely can, even when they don’t really need to. They tell them that the manager will be there, either in person or on a call, at a certain time, to assuage their fears or help them with a problem, or whatever it is that they need. They promise the client, but don’t clear it with you until afterwards. Then, you have to be there to meet with them, regardless of your own plans, or risk losing the client. Management meeting with clients sometimes is fine, and can be a necessary part of the sales process. But make sure that the sales rep includes you in the process, so that you can decide if a meeting is necessary, and schedule it on your terms, not the rep's.
Strong Sales Teams Have Confident Leaders
The most successful sales teams will be unified toward a common goal, and will look with confidence and respect to their leader. When sales reps manipulate to gain a personal advantage, they are not focused on the greater good of the company—and this attitude is incredibly damaging to the culture of your organization.
This manipulation reveals that an individual is in need of immediate coaching, or in some cases has reached the point of no return. Make sure you are establishing expectations for your sales team and have a solid plan for your Sales Management process.