Learn how to show off without bragging, how to talk about your team, and how to talk about your customers.
- Everybody wants to impress the big boss. One of the things we know about successful managers is that they use their face time with senior leaders very wisely. So, let's start with a what to do and what not to do. Imagine two sales managers are both attending the company leadership retreat, and over the course of the meeting, each one of them gets five minutes of casual face time with the CEO. So, one manager said, I'm so excited about next year's products.
You watch, my team is going to blow the doors off our number. But then, they proceed to tell the CEO about what a good job they've done this year and they go into detail about all of their biggest sales. This sales manager spends the majority of the interaction talking about the specifics of his accomplishments with the CEO. Now, he's trying to impress the boss because he wants to move up, that's a good thing, and if he has good results he will probably eventually get promoted, but now let's look at another way to handle this.
The second manager takes a little bit more of a strategic approach. She's read the company's annual report and she knows that they're going into new markets. So, instead of just jumping in to talk about her results, she says to the CEO, I saw your comments about the new markets we're going into next year. My team and I have been talking about this. I know we have some stiff competition in those markets, how are we going to handle that? She then spends only about 50% of the time talking, much of it is asking questions, and she ends the conversation very boldly by saying, if there's an ever an opportunity to do something new, I would love to be part of it.
My results speak for themselves and I'm ready for a bigger challenge. Now, think about this. It might seem like a good idea to recount all of our successes, but a senior leader can't remember all those details. You have to keep in mind, he or she is besieged by people who are sucking up most of the time. Now, in this case, the second manager is going to be a little more memorable because she's established herself as a strategic thinker, she's eager for more responsibility, and she wasn't shy about asking for it, yet she did so graciously and she did it after she had established her credibility.
So, there are three rules when you're dealing with a senior leader. Number one, ask strategic questions. You need to know the business and you need to talk about the things that the senior leader cares about. Number two, upride your own team. Great leaders know you're only as good as your team. So, when a senior leader sees you giving credit to your team, they know you're creating better results. And number three, don't be shy about showing your passion for customer success.
As a sales manager, you need to be on fire for customers, and you need to be excited about the impact that you can have on them. You want to be known as the guy or the gal who lives and breathes customer success. Now, that doesn't mean you have to go into tons of details, just make sure you connect the dots in a positive way to customers. And one last thing I'll say, if you're communicating with a senior leader by email, by all means, keep it short. Focus on the broader impact and spare them all those nitty gritty details.
You only get so much face time or screen time with the higher ups, use it wisely.
- Understanding your role
- Setting the tone as manager
- Recruiting the right people
- Dealing with inherited bad talent
- Making sales meetings count
- Working with marketing, accounting, and product
- Communicating with senior leaders
- Dealing with failure