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Are You Managing Your Manager?
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Jeff's Selling & Success Newsletter
November 2006

Dear Jeff,

Thanksgiving has passed and as we look forward to the end of the year most of us are thinking about finishing this year big and starting off 2007 with a bang! In fact, unless you have a highly transactional sale, 2006 is already a memory. With 5 weeks to go until New Year's it's likely that you've already started the sales cycle on any sales you expect to close between now and December 31. Unless your sales cycle is less than 4 weeks any prospect you begin working with now won't close until after January 1.

With that in mind, NOW is the time to be taking stock and planning for next year. What did you do right this year? What will you do differently next year? What goals did you set this year? Did you achieve them? If so, how? If not, why not? What goals will you set for 2007 and what will be your plan for reaching and exceeding them? If you think it's too soon to have to "worry" about that type of thing I can assure you that New Year's Eve will be here in the blink of an eye.

One of the things I suggest all salespeople take a look it is their resources. Ask yourself the questions: What resources are available to me? Am I making the best use of them? What can I use to be better organized? What's available to me in terms of ongoing training and development? What can I use to keep me focused? What tools do I have to help me get to where I want to go?

A tool that salespeople frequently overlook is your sales manager. Yes, that's right, I said your sales manager is a tool! No, I'm not talking about "tool" in the sense that Beavis and Butthead might have used it in. I'm talking about your sales manager as a valuable resource to help you reach your goals. Used properly there may be no greater resource in your arsenal.

Don't get me wrong. I know that not every sales manager is brilliant, talented, caring and giving. Some are, some aren't. But what almost every sales manager has in common is the sincere desire to help you make more money. Let's face it, typically when you make more money your sales manager makes more money so even if they don't really care about you personally, they do care about themselves. You can use that caring (for you or themselves) to help you excel in the coming year.

Let me give you some things to think about regarding your manager. One thing you should know is that most managers would like to devote more time to training and mentoring. Smart managers know that the more time they invest in your development, the better the chances are of you selling more. Unfortunately, training and development is not the only thing on your manager's list of things to do. They have meetings to attend, paperwork to fill out, more paperwork to analyze, strategizing to do, recruiting and hiring and a million other things that keep them busy. As much as your manager probably wants to spend more time training you they often can't, simply because there aren't enough hours in the day. Here's something else to consider, especially if you're an average sales rep or a superstar. The person who usually gets the most attention is the poorer performer because they need it the most. While your manager wants to help everyone on the team improve, they have to choose where to spend their time carefully and that often means that those reps who aren't doing poorly are left to fend for themselves.

So, given that your manager probably wants to help you but doesn't have the time to be proactive about it, how can you "manage" them better? My first suggestion is that you arrange a time, between now and the end of the year, to sit down with your manager and discuss the past year. Ask them for help in analyzing what worked and didn't and ask for suggestions on how you can improve. Let your manager know you sincerely desire to do better next year and that you're very open to any constructive criticism they have to offer. (of course you then have to actually BE open to their criticism) Don't wait for your boss to come to you and suggest this meeting, you make it happen.

Next, I suggest that you arrange a weekly sit-down with your supervisor. Explain that you understand how busy he or she is but that you are committed to improvement and would like feedback and advice on a weekly basis. Set up a weekly 15 minute meeting where your manager and you can discuss current problems or situations and possible solutions. Regular meetings are one of the keys to successful coaching so make sure that you and your manager both keep this meeting each week as sacred time.

Finally, I suggest you use your manager to hold you accountable. Most of us know the things we need to do to be successful. If you don't, run (don't walk) to your manager and ask for advice. If your manager doesn't know what it takes to be successful, talk to your manager's manager. Go to the president of the company if you need to. Call me, I'll help. Find someone who knows what it takes to be successful at your job, get their advice and follow it. Once you know what it takes to succeed at your job you need to make promises to do those things. Yes, I said make promises. It seems like we shouldn't have to promise to do the things we need to do to be successful but it's human nature, for most of us, to do things that we enjoy, things that are easy and often almost anything other than what will make us succeed. Usually, the things that are most likely to make us more money (like constant prospecting, for example) are the things we enjoy doing the least. By making promises to do those things we are far more likely to do them. My personal experience has shown me that when I promise to do something I almost always do it BUT NOT WHEN I MAKE THAT PROMISE TO MYSELF. Make promises to your manager and ask him or her to hold you to your word. I've found that while I'm often willing to break a promise to myself I almost never break my word to someone else. I'm a member of a 4- pperson group comprised of business associates and friends that I greatly respect. We speak on the phone once per week and make promises to each other about the professional and personal things we'll do in the coming week. When we speak the following week we report on what we did, or didn't do. I can't tell you how many times it's been one hour before the weekly call and I am frantically doing the things I promised to do the week before so that I can get on the phone with my friends and tell them, proudly, that I kept my word that week. While I always feel low when I break a promise to myself, I'm crushed on the occasions when I report to my colleagues that I didn't keep my word to them. Your manager can be a valuable "listener" for your promises and, if you're anything like me and my three associates, can help you to keep your word simply because you know you made your promise to someone other than yourself. (by the way - if your manager truly isn't a good person to do this with find someone else who you respect and make regular promises to them)

Use your manager to help yourself from now until New Year's and beyond. As someone who has had as many as 45 direct reports (in a previous career) I can tell you that it's often as simple as the squeaky wheel getting the grease. If your boss doesn't normally offer you the time and attention you need, let them know what will help you and grab it. Be committed to your own success and enroll your manager in it too.

Finish off 2006 strong!

Make It Happen,


Are You Managing Your Manager?
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Jeff Goldberg & Associates is a sales training, consulting and professional speaking firm specializing in helping salespeople at all levels sharpen their skills, close more business and make more money. The training and workshops are based on Jeff's 33 years of experience as a sales trainer, salesperson and sales manager.

Specific areas of concentration are: How to get more appointments, How to shorten your sales cycle and How to close more business. We offer programs that help sales managers be more effective leaders as well as workshops on customer service, selling in a retail environment, presentation skills and many others.

Besides our standard programs we have the ability to create custom workshops designed to be more closely aligned to a specific industry or culture. Jeff is also available for keynotes and other speaking opportunities.

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Jeff Goldberg & Associates | 76 Troy Avenue | Long Beach | NY | 11561