Monday, September 30, 2019

How to Piss Off Your Sales Manager

Recently I wrote an article entitled “Modular Housing Sales Managers Typically Last Less Than 2 Years on the Job.” It explained why many sales managers don’t last long in that position and gave several reasons, many of them shared by just about every modular factory.

One reason some sales managers don’t see a long tenure in that role has nothing to do with a lack of training for that position. That reason is simply a sales team with some members that know how to piss off the sales manager. They’ve done it so long under other sales managers and at different factories that it’s almost second nature to them.

While most sales reps do a very good job and would never do anything intentional to piss of their sales manager, there is always an inclination to do it even if you didn’t know you were doing it.

How many of you have lied to your sales manager about your sales forecast? You may know some of your builders are going to be signing a contract, just not this month but you list it anyway so you don’t get singled out.

Sales managers are expected to keep management abreast of future production needs and that comes from monthly forecasts supplied by the sales reps. You keep pushing, hoping you can get them to sign a contract but the builder’s customer is in no hurry to sign and help you meet your forecast. “Bad Customer!”

If you told your sales manager a builder contract was going to close, but unexpectedly lost out to another factory, not telling your manager what happened right away and deciding to withhold the bad news until the last minute could have serious consequences for the production line, especially if slots on the line have been reserved.

During the weekly/monthly sales meeting, while your sales manager, who is really trying to help you with the problems you will face with your builders and offers some training, you just sit there and pretend to listen because “What does he know about my builders?”

Since you never actually took any notes, how will you ever implement any changes to your selling process your manager suggested.

And let’s not forget qualifying a new builder. Your factory expects you to bring in new builders that can actually sell and finish new homes. While that is the goal, it doesn’t happen as often as the sales manager likes.

I remember a lead my first sales manager gave me for a builder in Pittsburgh that wanted to buy modular homes from us. I called, got his address and some background information and off I went with my thermos of coffee and a map.

Turns out it was a roofer that just wanted to know if I helped him sell houses and got a deposit from the customer, how long could he keep it before he had to actually buy a house from us. If I had not vetted him personally, he could have cheated people out of thousands of dollars and my factory and I would have gotten a black eye.

Today many sales managers require you to use a CRM program where you enter all information about your builder along with every contact you have with them. To us old time cowboys that seems like a lot of work for nothing. This means your sales manager never knows what you’re working on and also makes it impossible to track any long-term patterns in your sales process.

I knew one sales rep that only put the bare minimum into the company’s CRM but kept meticulous records on his personal CRM program. He did that in case he was ever fired or quit and he could get hired by another factory and take those detailed notes with him.

The sales rep that misses meetings and continually uses the excuse of having to meet with one of his builders will soon become suspect to the sales manager. Don’t be surprised if the sales manager tells you to attend the meeting and then you, the sales manager and the builder will get on a conference call/video where the SM will quickly learn you were simply trying to dodge the meeting.

There is usually one sales rep, the lone wolf or the lazy guy, who thinks they are above those boring and mundane sales meetings and beneath their dignity.

Let’s not forget about the work needed before you try to contact a new builder or call a current builder about a problem.

If you’re about to call on a prospective new builder, simply looking them up LinkedIn is not enough. Put some extra work into learning all you can. Check their FB page, Google news about them, look for connections you share and then contact them. A little extra work and investigating will pay huge rewards.

One of the biggest ways to piss off your sales manager is to either withhold a builder’s problem, minimize it to the SM, forget to get back to the builder who then calls your SM or the absolute worst thing to do, lie to your builder.

If you see yourself in any of these areas, you have probably pissed off your sales manager and need to find ways to get back on their good side.

Gary Fleisher is a housing veteran, editor/writer of Modular Home Builder blog and industry speaker/consultant.


Anonymous said...

I worked wiht a guy that loved nothing better than piss off the new sales manager. He was with the factory for a really long time and knew he would never get fired. There were 3 new sales managers while I was there but this guy always turned down the offer. He was a real ass that nobody really liked.

Anonymous said...

Here is another point of view... Having held the SM position in this industry a couple times through-out my career... The common issue I have found in this industry was that upper management seemed to always view that position as more of a glorified baby sitter instead of a position of actual management... There was neither any direction or authority given to the position... The SM was supposed to oversee and boost sales but had very little authority to do anything to accomplish those very goals, not to mention that upper management seemed to struggle with company direction as a whole... The main concern is always just fill the line with orders, be profitable, and keep us out of trouble... Although these are, and should be, the responsibility of the SM, this is a monumental task if you are sent into battle without any ammunition... In speaking with others in the industry this seems to be a common thread... This scenario always ends with the sales force losing faith/respect in the SM because their hands are always tied... This creates all kinds of dissension in the ranks... It doesn't take long for an otherwise able SM to become frustrated and either step down, or get relieved by the very people who put them in a losing position to begin with just simply because they are not given the proper authority and/or tools needed to do their job... So although I agree with the issues you have raised I also think that the short time frames for this position are sometimes created by the frustration level involved when someone is given a task to perform but not given the tools or authority necessary to accomplish the assigned task...Just a point of view from the other side.