Danger Zone

As a sales manager, oftentimes, you end up as the middle man between the sales reps and executives in the office. However, this is what I like to call the danger zone.  If your sales reps are talking to executives on a regular basis, they may be trying to go around you and it will be very hard on your relationship with the team as a whole. So, keep an eye on how your team is interacting.

As a sales manager, it is your job to shield your sales reps from the downward pressure.  You deal with the executives and then the sales reps deal with you.  This is the best way to keep your team working together. Don’t skip a step and have your reps go directly to executives with every problem they may have.

If you are a new manager it is expected that there will be some micromanagement from above at first.  It is your job to prove yourself and gain the trust of the executives so that they will deal with you and not directly with the sales reps.  To earn their respect and their trust, work hard to make the numbers and take accountability for what your team is achieving.  Once you have proven yourself you should be given the leeway to manage the team on your own.

As a manager, take cues and learn from other good managers.  Once you have shown success with your team you will gain the respect of the executives and they will give you more room to do the things you need to do to grow your team and ensure their success.  It is your job to make them confident that you are capable as a manager.


Setting the Stage

As the middle man between the sales reps and executives, you need to set the stage. In other words, the executives will have certain expectations of you as a manager and you will have to prove that you can work to those expectations.  Work hard, hit the numbers, and their confidence in you and your abilities will grow.

You will earn their respect by showing them that you can manage the team and achieve the goals that have been set.  You need to be accountable for what is going on with your sales team and you need to reach the outcomes that the executives expect of you.



Because you are the middle man between sales reps and executives, you need to be able to effectively communicate. Again, you need to learn from the good managers.  There is a delicate balance of communication up and down the chain.  You need to communicate with the executives and you need to communicate with the sales team.

Make sure that your team keeps you informed and that you are transferring information as needed to the executives.  If you hold regular pipeline and forecast meetings and all information is regularly entered into the CRM, the executives should have the information they need at their fingertips.  One issue is that they need to have trust that the CRM is accurate.

In order to gain this trust and have them know that what they can see in the CRM is what is really going on, invite the executives to attend some of your meetings.  Make sure they have a connection to the sales reps and can see that they are doing their job and keeping you informed on a regular basis.  Have a sales process in place and make sure the executives are aware of the process so that they can see what is going on at any given time.

Keep in mind that it is your job to manage the pressure from above and it should not be dumped on your team.  If you provide accurate forecasting and ensure that you are going to hit the numbers that you need to then the pressure should be manageable.  If there is some reason that the number will not be met you should know in advance and will be able to communicate with the sales reps and the executives about what needs to be done.


The Sales Rep

Sales reps are responsible for hitting their numbers. Which means, even as the middle man, you need to hold them accountable. Senior managers tend to look for people who are underperforming so that they can ensure that everyone is doing what needs to be done to get to the goal.

If you are a sales rep and you are underperforming, get to the front of it and figure out what is wrong or where you need help.  Talk to your sales manager about any coaching you feel would be a benefit and how they can help you get back on track with your sales.  Make sure you are in constant communication about what is going on and how you are going to reach your goal.

As a sales manager, you need to shield your reps from the emotions or whims of the executives.  Find out what your underperforming reps may need and provide them with what they need to be successful.  If the rep is honest and upfront about what is going on, you will be able to offer help.

Communication is key and you have to have a plan for success.  If the plan does not work and the rep is still underperforming, you may have to let him go.  Make sure that you have something in place in case this happens.  You should have other people in the pipeline that you will be able to hire and train so there is not an empty spot on the team.

In any case, do not let panic rule the day.  You will have the constant push/pull of making decisions and it is your job to do so.  If an issue comes up, deal with it and do not panic about it.  If you are a rep, talk to your manager about what you need and if you are a manager, talk to the executives about the steps you are taking to deal with current issues.


Everyone Plays a Role

Everyone in the company plays a role and it is important to maintain communication and do your own job.  Do not try to do the job of someone else just because an individual comes to you with an issue; direct them to the proper outlet for dealing with the problem so that everyone is performing the role for which they were hired.


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 jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.


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