The job of a sales manager is to provide a succeeding environment for salespeople. Part of that is the provision of intrinsic competitive value in the product or service being sold. Beyond that, it’s providing viable territories and targets, proper support levels, tools for training and enablement, demand generation leadership, and the removal of internal roadblocks.
What more could possibly be asked? Well, for me there is actually one more thing–positive leadership and values. Success occurs as a partnership, and for a team to be effective all elements need to be in place. When everything comes together, synergy is amazingly powerful stuff.
But, bluntly, life is too short for working with individuals you neither respect or like. The first boss that I fired was a decent person, and we remain friends to this day. But he was not able to provide me with a viable territory. It wasn’t really his fault; he’d been instructed to hire a salesperson for the purpose of “dominating the white space”…LOL! I made the painful discovery of what the “white space” is–the part of the market that is already being serviced by competitors, or where there’s little need for your product or service to begin with.
Prior to having that difficult conversation about our future together, I worked diligently for 6 months “trailblazing our value proposition” into a new vertical. I performed the analysis through sizing the market, finding the industry influencers and profiling potential clients. By working closely with marketing, I ran demand generation initiatives. I met with industry leaders. To overcome resistance that we were encountering at mid-levels, I adopted a top-down selling approach.
I am committed to success, and felt I had earned the right. I told my boss: “You’re either going to fire me in 9 months for poor performance, or I’m going to fire you within 60 days because you haven’t provided me a territory in which I can succeed. If I’m to make my number I need additional territory while building this new vertical which I’m happy to do.”
Seriously, when you’re being interviewed, you should always ask, “What is my territory going to be, and how valuable is it?” You might also want to ask, “Why is this role available? Why wasn’t my predecessor successful?”
Before we continue, have a smile watching this video about Joshua Peters and Michael Blunt from my book.
The following is an excerpt from my book The Joshua Principle.
“Success is a 50:50 proposition. By this I mean that you bring fifty percent of the potential for success and your employer represents the other side of the equation. You know that companies look for Competence, Commitment, and Character or Cultural fit when hiring someone and you should also consider these same things in evaluating your potential employer. In addition to the three Cs, you need them to discuss the three Ps. You should evaluate the potential for success within their organization based upon their response to the following topics: People, Proposition and Patch. Your employer has an obligation to provide an environment within which you can be successful. This means that they need to have people you are proud to work with (competent, committed and of good character), and a value proposition that is uniquely differentiated in the market; and a territory – patch – that is viable with an achievable quota.”
Another good reason to fire your boss, or client for that matter, is when there is misalignment of values. An immutable law of selling is that people buy from those they like and trust… they also stay and work with those they like and trust.
Is your boss a person of integrity? The best boss I ever had was a woman. I think we need more female leaders because they are naturally wired for better relationships and better morality. People who are trying hard need to be nurtured, not napalmed with flame-thrower forecast pressure from lunatic managers seeking to manage what cannot be managed – revenue. Jason Jordan will convince you this is true.
Another boss I fired was the regional VP and I was country manager for Australia. He was a slippery soul, very cunning and good at self-optimization. He was happy to bold-face lie to staff about them being okay, and then instruct me quietly later to fire them. He happily abused his expense account and travelled internationally for his own personal purposes, staying in the finest hotels with limousines driving him everywhere. I didn’t handle it at all well but I learned much about how not to fire your boss.
The last time I fired my boss was after receiving an email telling me to fire 40 percent of my employees in 48 hours by booking 15 minute back-to-back appointments before office hours in a hotel lobby. I was then to hand them envelopes and advise them they were locked out of the office and all systems. It was suggested that I follow the script and tell them that someone would be in touch to make a time for them come and collect a box with their stuff in it. At the time we were the most profitable region in the world – #1 amongst 40 offices globally. But when acquisitions happen, strange decisions get made. This true story is featured in an upcoming book on leadership written by Anthony Howard entitled Humanise, Why Human Centred Leadership Is The Key To The 21st Century.
So as you consider your current career; does your boss care about you, is he committed to your success? Is she competent? Do you have aligned values? Choose those with whom you share your life; especially with your work.
Video was produced by Joel Philips who also plays role of Joshua Peters. Joel is a man of many talents… musician, actor, producer and leader.
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