Three Reasons Why Sales Managers Micromanage

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Posted: October 20, 2016

“I don’t like to be micromanaged” salespeople say. And who can blame them? No one really likes someone constantly checking in or double-checking their work. But here’s the big question: Are your selling behaviors creating a micromanager boss?

Last week, I ran a two-day course teaching sales managers principles and concepts on building high-performance sales cultures. One of the concepts is the trust model from Stephen Covey. In his book, “The Speed of Trust,” Covey shares traits of trustworthy people.

Salespeople demonstrating these characteristics decrease the need for sales managers to micromanage them.

Apply the EQ skills of reality testing and emotional self-awareness to see if you’re the problem. Look at the actions that create trust and see if you are creating the need for your sales manager to hover over you. Trust me: Your sales manager would rather lead and guide than look over your shoulder. 

1: Consistency. This shows up on several levels. A salesperson charged with business development should be consistent about calendar blocking and booking time each week for new business development or account management. The consistent salesperson builds a sales activity plan and executes the plan every week. This salesperson increases trust and reduces the need for micromanagement.   

The inconsistent salesperson shows up at the office on Monday with no specific plan. They prospect when they feel like it. They miss prospecting targets because they haven’t carved out a specific time to reach out to prospects and clients. This lack of consistency leads to micromanagement. It also lowers your sales manager’s trust in your ability to finish the job.    

The high-trust salesperson also is consistent in how they show up to work.  Regardless of what is going on at home, they bring their “A” game.   

The inconsistent salesperson keeps their sales managers guessing about which personality type is going to show up to work that day. Is it the effective salesperson or the one that emotionally reacts to every adversity in life and brings it to work?  

Are you consistent? Can you be trusted?

2: Competent. $20 billion is invested in sales training each year. Sales managers invest hundreds of hours in teaching and coaching their teams. The competent and committed salesperson learns the sales playbook.  When the sales manager asks this salesperson to share specific value propositions or talk tracks, the competent salesperson demonstrates sales expertise. Trust goes up and micromanagement goes down. 

The incompetent salesperson shows the opposite behaviors. They stumble and bumble through role plays, further eroding their sales manager’s trust. The pressure to perform increases and the salesperson complains about, yes, micromanagement. 

The competent salesperson takes the time to thoroughly understand the business of business. They understand how their customers make money. They learn how their products and services support their customer’s key objectives. As a result, their customers trust them.

The incompetent salesperson can’t demonstrate sales skills or share subject matter expertise. Customers have lots of choices today. And while they may really like you because you are personable and likable, customers need to work with a partner that adds value to their world.

Are you competent? Can you be trusted?

3: Character. More than one sales manager has dealt with salespeople fudging numbers in their sales pipeline report. I quickly correct these managers to call it “lying,” not “fudging.” The numbers and opportunities are either real or not. 

Salespeople that fudge any kind of data demonstrate low integrity, which leads to low trust and results in, you guessed it, micromanagement.   

High-character salespeople report the real data. If they are falling short of the plan, they don’t wait for their sales manager to approach them with the problem. They eliminate excuses and present their plan to correct their course. The sales manager listens, gives advice and sends them on their way. No need to micromanage. 

Are you a salesperson of character? Can you be trusted?

The next time you feel you are being micromanaged, stop and look in the mirror.  Ask yourself if your selling behaviors are creating this type of management style. Trust is a two-way street. Make sure you are paying attention to your side of the street. 

Good Selling!