Talking to figures of authority can be intimidating, especially if it’s your boss. This doesn’t get any easier when you are also in a position of authority. Today on The Funnel we talk about how sales managers can learn to avoid the mine filed of talking to their bosses, promoting healthy communication by learning the ropes, what to do, and what not to do. As always if you have any questions please schedule a free 30-minute consultation and i’ll do my best to help in any way I can.


What we’re going to cover:

  • Learn the ropes
  • What to do
  • What not to do




Learn the ropes


Slippery slope

“When you’re learning the ropes understand it’s a slippery slope. You have downward pressure from executives, you have upward pressure from your reps and you’re trying to manage the middle. You’re protecting your team to some degree and you’re depending on them to preform for you because you have performance standards that your boss is looking for. So, there’s a lot of pressure there.”


Build up your credibility

“Just because you’re a manager doesn’t mean you have full authority to do whatever you want. A good boss is going to provide you with some rope to make decisions on your own but they’re not going to give it all to you because you have to build up your credibility, you have to earn their trust to do more.”

“The best way to earn trust is to succeed and results provide that. And building up credibility helps because you can point to previous success as an indicator of future success.”


Understand your boss

“You need to understand your boss more than they need to understand you. I talk a lot about understanding your sales reps, how they learn, how they communicate, and the best way to manage them, but doesn’t necessarily mean your boss is going to do that with you.

To combat that, I would turn around, face the boss, and do the same thing with the boss that you’re doing with your reps. Try to understand who they are, what they like, what they dislike and their style of communication.”


Style of communication

“A lot of communication is nonverbal so mirroring somebody is a great way to communicate. Now, if your manager screams and yells, don’t mirror that. But you need to understand who they are, their style of communication, and build up your credibility before you can really jump in feet first.”


What to do


Provide possible solutions

“When I deal with reps and managers they tend to come and dump all of their problems on me. That’s not what I want, what I want is possible solutions. I don’t want the perfect answer because you wouldn’t be coming to me if you had the perfect answer. But I want you to have a possible solution.”

“You asked me for some time, I’ve given it to you, now you’re just dumping problems on me. Don’t make your problem my problem.”


Collaborate versus me, me, me

“If it’s a company problem you need to think about what that possible answer could be. Collaborate with me verses ‘me, me, me, I have this problem now fix it for me.’ Instead, let’s work on a problem solve.”


Do your homework

“When you talk to your boss make sure you have all your ducks in a row. The worst thing you can do is say something that’s not true because you didn’t do your homework or you weren’t prepared for the possible questions that he or she might ask you.”

“Instead, be prepared for any possible question you could get and work through some of those answers. You don’t have to be perfect so don’t get nervous here, they are your boss, they hired you for a reason.”


Use softer words.

“Try saying: I need help, I need guidance. Instead of getting worked up on emotion, they are not your therapist. Don’t go in there when you’re angry and slam the door, Use your head, collect your thoughts, relax, and move forward.”


Focus on the issue at hand

“Don’t corner them with 20 issues, focus on the issue at hand, and exactly what it is you want to talk about. Don’t add 3 or 4 things because there’s a tendency to want to do that when you have their attention.”

“Because what will happen is they will start avoiding you because they know that you say you want to talk for 5 minutes and 35 minutes later you’ve put 10 items on their page. Or they push back on you and say I don’t have time for that right now and then you feel like an idiot when you walk out.”


Be aware of the time

“Be cognizant of their time. If you said give me a half hour try to get it done in 20 and give them back 10 minutes, then move on.”


What not to do


Data dump every idea that’s floating inside your head

“I’ve said this before but don’t bring every idea that’s ever floated inside your head and let it come puking out of you. Keep it focused, stay on task.”


Look for your boss to provide the answer

“Guidance is one thing but looking for them to provide that answer is not. Instead, let me guide you on the things that you can do to help yourself. That’s how you learn, that’s how you teach, and if you have a good boss you’ll learn a lot.”


Make others look bad

“Don’t ever say anything negative about somebody else in your bosses’ office and don’t make other people look bad, especially your peers. First of all, it’s bad practice and it’s rude. Second, it makes you look bad and it destroys your credibility.”

“Keep in mind: If folks are willing to talk to you about other people, what are they saying about you when you’re not around? What makes you so special that they wouldn’t do that do you?”


Give credit

“There are managers out there that take credit for everything their sales rep sells. It’s ridiculous, they are a reflection of you, it’s your team, give them credit where credit is due. And if you have a boss that doesn’t really understand that and puts more value on what they’ve done- go find another job. And if you have to take credit for somebody else’s work to say employed, go find something else to do.”


Take credit

“Give credit where credit is due not only to your sales reps but to yourself. There’s a lot of people that take credit for your work so don’t be shy about taking credit.”

“Be professional about it don’t start hooting and hollering and popping champagne in the office because you did something but make sure you take credit for the things that you do when you do it well, that’s important.”



“What is said in that room stays in that room. If your manager says, ‘I don’t particularly like that rep’  Keep that to yourself. Private conversations are private conversations. Don’t go spreading rumors or gossip.”


Don’t make fun of your boss behind their back

“Don’t make fun of your boss behind their back to other people, yes people do that.”


Stay positive.

“Stay positive and upbeat, don’t hold your head down, don’t get negative.”


Recognize what they do for you.

“Recognize their performance when they do something worthwhile. Here’s what happens with people: they get advice from their boss, they move on, and then they continue with their day . But they never think to go back to their boss and say, ‘hey you know what I tried that and it worked thank you so much, that was great, you were a huge help in coming up with a solution for this.’ Don’t forget, they’re people too.”


Keep the lines of communication open

“Don’t avoid them. Talk to them on a regular basis and the comfort level and the credibility will increase. The more they know, the better they’re going to feel. The more open and transparent you are about what’s going on the better they’re going to react. Open up to them about what’s happening on your team.”


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.


sales candidate assessment free trial


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *