As sales professionals, we tend to think of our customers as the people who buy from us, but when it comes to our career, our sales manager is in a sense a customer as well. As sales professionals, we have the tools in place that we use to manage our "customers" and when applied towards our sales managers, we could also manage up, manage expectations and have a strategic approach to developing our career.
This article will explore the similarities of managing our customers and our sales managers and using the same tools that we use to gain business to manage our career with our direct boss. The benefit in doing so will help you gain your career objectives and to deliver exactly what your sales manager is looking for in their sales people.
YOU ARE THE PRODUCT
Think of yourself as the product or service and the sales manager as the buyer. When you approach your customer in a strategic selling model you seek to gain information on their critical buying concepts and their expectations. The service you are providing in this case is sales for the sales manager's team. Try approaching the sales manager as you would your customer with the same set of questions, planning and follow up to gain your objectives. If you are looking for a promotion or raise, look at the criteria for each key stakeholder and sell yourself as the product that deserves the buyer to purchase. Think about it.
In sales we use tools to manage our accounts, relationships and customers. A popular tool is software called customer relationship management (CRM). Managing your internal customers such as your sales manager is also a management of relationship and is a great strategy to use the same approach you take with your call notes, important dates, previous discussions, key topics, etc. and to use to manage your relationship with your boss or other key stakeholders within your organization. You might want to look at some free online CRM tools such as, Relenta, or Zoho. Both of these tools come with a free option and provides enough space to manage your internal customers.
In sales, the pre-call plan is important before entering in a sales call with your customers. The same goes with working with your sales manager or other leaders within your organization. There are many different approaches to pre-call planning, but use the one that works for you or the one that you are currently using on your own customers and apply it towards your sales manager to prepare your work day or meetings to be more effective and work towards your own sales career goals.
It is important to have career goals and working towards achieving it takes time and a well thought out plan. Like goals and objectives with our accounts, our sales career is in a sense similar and having set goals and objectives will help us to accomplish the goals we have for our career. Some fall into the bad habit of not managing their career and taking an active approach, but if you want to progress in your sales career, attention is needed on an ongoing basis to ensure that you are working towards achieving them and working with your "customers", and in this case your sales manager or other key stakeholders that have an influence on your career progression.
In sales, we close for action commitments to reach our sales quotas and goals. The same goes with our sales career. The sales manager is key influencer in your progression to a promotion or raise, so by setting clear action commitments from your sales manager, you can track your progress towards reaching your career goals. A good example is asking for the criteria and what the sales manager wants to see demonstrated for achieving the highest possible salary increase or promotion to a senior sales position. Remember, that it takes time to climb in your career but as you use action commitments, you can track and show proof of you meeting the criteria and asking your key stakeholders to take action if you meet those needs.
As you can see, managing your sales manager is a skill you already use on a daily basis with your current customers. By shifting the focus to those who have a key to unlocking your career progression, you can use the same proven techniques used in moving sales to moving towards your sales career goals.