The Risks

Sales reps, are your sales managers playing favorites? And Sales Managers do you play favorites among your reps? If the answer is yes, you need to reevaluate the way your company is run. Because if you have a favorite or if you are a favorite, there is a price to pay.

If you are a sales manager with a favorite rep, your other reps may feel under-recognized and unsupported because the favorite rep is getting all of the attention.  You will find that resentment will build and the other sales reps will not perform to their potential because of hurt feelings; they will lose motivation to perform if they are not getting the same recognition that the favorite gets.

On the other hand, if you are a sales manager and you are the favorite of your boss there will possibly be resentment from the other managers.This could result in a number of consequences and it is just not worth it. It is not good to be the favorite or to have a favorite.


Lose Objectivity.

If you’re a sales manager playing favorites, you tend to lose all objectivity. Because of this favoritism, you begin to look at somebody in a different way.  For example, if you have a favorite rep and they make a mistake you tend to overlook it because you are no longer objective.  The mistake does not get dealt with or another rep suffers the brunt of the effects and then there is more resentment.


How it ends

Favoritism always ends in an ugly way.  If you are the boss’s favorite and your boss leaves you will be at the mercy of a new boss.  If the new boss does not see you as a favorite your career could take a turn very quickly; you may not get as many accounts, you may be reprimanded for things that could slide before, and you may even lose accounts or territory.  It can be very dangerous to rely on one person within the company just because you are a favorite as that could change quickly and without notice.


Unreasonable expectations

If your sales manager is playing favorites and you are the favorite,  you may get projects dumped in your lap with unreasonable expectations.These higher expectations will eventually set you up for failure. This will also cause resentment on your part as you will feel like you are doing more work than the other reps.  Now being a favorite does not seem to have as many benefits when you feel like you are working twice as hard for the same pay.  If you are a favorite, people will use you.

You do not want to be in the position of being known as the teacher’s pet and you do not want to put anyone else in that position either.


Get Over It

If your sales managers playing favorites, it’s time to work around it. For example, if you have a special relationship with someone above you then they may share inside information with you.  They will tell you things and you may want to share it with others on your team but it is not a good idea to leak information.  Private conversations should be kept private.

Keep in mind that if you are a manager with a favorite rep, the same thing may happen.  If you share information with a rep that information may get out in the open if they share it with other reps.  Don’t be surprised if you tell a rep something and then find out that the rest of the team knows the information as well.

In order to avoid being a favorite or having a favorite, you want to develop relationships with as many people in the company as possible.  Develop relationships with more than one senior level executive and develop relationships with all of your sales reps.  It is important to be objective and learn from others in the company.

Sales reps do not need to learn everything from one sales manager.  Every manager has strengths and weaknesses; if a rep needs help with something, steer them toward the expert in that area.  If you only deal with one or two people you are hurting your own career.


It’s About Your Career

Even if your sales managers playing favorites keep in mind, your career is the most important thing here. When you play favorites, one person owns your career.  If you are your boss’s favorite and they leave the company, they may very well be taking your career with them.  If you have been a favorite and have only dealt with one person above you and that person leaves, things can change very quickly.  A new person coming into the position may have different ideals and if you are no longer the favorite you will see if your success was really earned or if it was given to you. So, it is always good to have a relationship with more than one boss.

Every sales rep should have the same opportunity for advancement as long as they are performing to standards.  All the accounts should not go to one person because they are a favorite and everyone should be given equal opportunity to be successful and prove what they have to offer the company.

You are not doing anyone a favor by playing favorites and if you are the favorite it is not necessarily to your advantage in the long run.  You need to have an open mind and never overestimate your power and influence.  Being a favorite does not make you more powerful, in the end, it takes away from you as being a favorite is usually to your boss’s advantage and not yours.  You need to protect yourself and not become a favorite by making sure you forge relationships with several people in the company both above and below you.  You want to develop good relationships but it is risky to get too close.

Remember that you should be the one in charge of your career.  Do not rely on others to have the career you want to have.  Develop relationships and treat everyone with respect and dignity and you will achieve your own personal goals.


Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.


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