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September 16, 2021

Are You a Demanding or Developing Sales Manager?

My first real corporate job started in retail. I begin as a merchandiser, tracking goods, and moved up the ladder to sportswear buyer. Looking back on the corporate culture, I easily could complain about my early boss because he wasn’t emotionally intelligent. My stories about him also could include how demanding he was and how much he expected from his team of buyers.   

Today, I look back with a different perspective. 

My boss was demanding. He also was developing my talents, work ethic and ability to be accountable for actions and results.

It was not unusual for my boss, Tony, to drop into my office with no notice.  He’d drill me on what merchandise was selling or not selling in the stores. His questions were pointed and he expected answers.   

  • Why was a garment selling?
    • He wanted me to know why success was happening so I could repeat it.
  • Why wasn’t a garment selling? And why aren’t you marking this garment down in order to move the merchandise out the door?
    • Tony wanted me to recognize that taking no action only creates bigger problems.  
  • Why did I purchase a “dog” item? (Sorry for all you dog lovers.)
    • Again, Tony was pressing me to think and solve problems in order to not repeat the same mistakes.

Tony didn’t send an Outlook invite for these types of discussions. He expected me to know my business and numbers at all times, not just once a week.  

Was he demanding? Yes. 

Was he developing my skills? Double yes. These are skills that I use, appreciate and teach to sales organizations today.

Know your numbers!  Understand your numbers.  Make adjustments based on the numbers.

Note that Tony didn’t pull my sales reports. He didn’t analyze the data, interpret it and then share the information with me.

He expected me to do that activity because that is how you develop a person’s thinking and problem-solving skills. He was a demanding and developing manager.

Let’s take a look at sales and sales management. It’s easy for good sales managers to be perceived as demanding. They expect a lot from their sales teams because they recognize prospects EXPECT more from today’s sales professional than just taking orders.  

For example, a salesperson thinks a sales manager is TOO demanding because she:

  • Expects a salesperson to track, report and achieve leading and lagging sales activity metrics. You aren’t being demanding. You are helping your salesperson DEVELOP good sales habits. What gets measured improves. Consistency of good habits results in consistent wins.
  • Expects a salesperson to follow a sales process. You aren’t being demanding. You are DEVELOPING a salesperson’s ability to apply proven principles of emotional intelligence, psychology and selling skills. The mastery of these skills creates sales success, sales satisfaction and happy new clients.

Thanks, Tony, for those early lessons in business. I no longer see you as a demanding boss. Yes, you could have demonstrated more emotional intelligence.  However, your high expectations helped me achieve a higher level of performance. 

Good Selling!

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