Not happy with the way your sales department is run? Got an idea that could make it better? If so, you'll have to sell your idea to your sales manager. And that's not always easy, because sales managers know all the tricks. Even so, selling to a sales manager is not impossible, providing you follow this recipe:...
- STEP #1: Keep an open mind. You wouldn't assume that your customers are stupid just because they didn't buy a certain product. Similarly, don't assume that your sales manager is clueless simply because he doesn't agree with you. Give him the benefit of the doubt; he may very well have experience that can help you hone your own ideas.
- STEP #2. Focus on what's realistic. If you think that you're going to change everything in your selling environment, think again. Instead, focus on a goal that's modest and achievable. For example, rather than trying to get your sales manager accept a new sales model, try to get him to spring for some new Blackberries to help everyone stay connected.
- STEP #3. Ask questions, then listen. Sales managers, just like everybody else, approach their jobs with preconceived ideas, concerns, needs and constraints. If you're going to make a positive change, you'll need to know exactly where the boss is coming from. Ask probing, thoughtful questions - and then really listen to the responses.
- STEP #4. Match your "selling" to the manager's needs. Find a way to adapt your ideas so that they satisfy your manager's concerns more effectively than whatever approach the manager is currently taking. During the discussion, use your sales skills to overcome objections and move the "sale" forward. Just like you would with a valued customer.
- STEP #5. Close the deal. As with any sales call, the end result is to make the sale. When negotiating with your manager this means getting a firm commitment to whatever change you like to have made. HINT: Have an implementation plan in hand, so that the manager need merely say "Yes" in order to make the change happen.