Managers: What Are Your Reps Saying Behind Your Back?


It goes with the territory.  Not long after your get promoted to a management position, the office salesmanagerfolks you used to hang out with start treating you differently. You might be worrying secretly that they’re calling you management slime or nitpicky behind your back. Should you do anything about this, and if so, what?

As Michelle Vazzana points out in her recent Do Your Reps Think You’re a Pain in the Neck post on sellingpower​.com, there are only certain things managers can control about their sales reps. Of course you can’t control what they say about you. And Vazzana says you can’t always manage the outcome of their selling efforts.

But, you have your own numbers to make and in order to achieve that goal, you have to rely on your reps to make their numbers. To optimize the outcome, it might help to think of yourself as a coach.

Your reps, unless they’re very new to the world of selling, know exactly what they need to do on a daily basis. Some days, things will go well and other days, they won’t. That last thing they want to hear is a directive about what they should be doing.

Instead, Vazzana suggests you engage your rep in a conversation and steer the conversation so they end up telling you what they’ll be doing in terms of call volume in order to achieve their goals. A good manager will then agree with them and offer to check in on a regular basis to learn about any problems the rep is encountering. At that point, the same style of conversation should take place.

Managers can offer themselves up as sounding boards for their reps. As the reps hear what they are saying and suggesting to their managers, they’re much more likely to buy into their goals and the department’s goals. They’ll also be less likely to make unwelcome comments when you’re not in the room.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.