5 Keys to Building a Better Relationship With Your Sales Leader

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In any relationship, it takes two people to make it work. The Manager-Employee relationship is no different. Some of us are blessed to be able to work for someone we respect and admire. In those instances, we are motivated to do our part in creating and maintaining a positive working relationship, often going out of our way to ensure the relationship strengthens over time.

But like family, we often don’t get to choose our leaders (without a job change) and not all leaders are created equally. Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to work on this relationship and drive positive outcomes. Here are five of them:

    1. Be Prompt. Whether it’s being on time for a weekly sales meeting, sending in your traffic report Sunday evening or submitting a quarterly competitive analysis consistently without being asked, being prompt creates a positive perception that you can be counted on to do what is needed when it’s needed.

    2. Be Prepared. Having a prepared list of topics ready to discuss with your manager during your one on one meetings displays not only you are disciplined with your time, it shows you respect others’ time as well.

    3. Be Proactive. Most customer issues occur because of poor communication and unmet expectations. Sometimes we are to blame. But sometimes the customer doesn’t communicate well. Be proactive with your communication to your Sales Leader. You can’t control how they are going to respond to you, but if positioned properly, the response will be better if you communicate sooner rather than later. Try this: “I know this is going to make our lives more difficult in the short term but I’m letting you know now that XYZ happened in the hopes we can avoid an even bigger problem down the road.” Lean on your manager: “I could really use your guidance on how to fix this so the company and the customer is least impacted.”

    4. Be a Partner. Managers are often overworked and under-appreciated. Just like we are getting pulled in a thousand directions by customers and chasing down paperwork, our managers are getting pulled in a million directions trying to meet the needs of their team, their own manager and oftentimes, angry customers. A good manager won’t let you feel the pressure they themselves are feeling. But just because they aren’t exhibiting stress doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling it. Sometimes a simple “How can I help you?” or a surprise Starbucks can go a long way with people. Everyone needs to feel like they are appreciated…even your manager.

    5. Be Polite. Let’s face it. Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. As a manager, we’ve done things and delivered messages in ways that I came to regret. People make mistakes. At some point, everyone deserves a second chance. If your manager isn’t having a great day and takes it out on you, don’t take it personally. Be polite. Listen to what they have to say rather than how they say it and do what only you can do: Control your response. No one ever got into hot water by being polite and even if your manager isn’t the type to apologize (and to be clear, they should absolutely apologize), you will sleep better knowing you were the bigger person and acted with grace.

Keeping these five habits fine-tuned will help you prepare to be a better leader yourself someday. Be straightforward, be honest and remember the 5 P’s outlined above in managing your professional relationships.

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